From the World Heritage inscription:
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon covers 100,200-hectare and numbers 445 uninhabited limestone islands of volcanic origin. Many of them display unique mushroom-like shapes in turquoise lagoons surrounded by coral reefs. The aesthetic beauty of the site is heightened by a complex reef system featuring over 385 coral species and different types of habitat. They sustain a large diversity of plants, birds and marine life including dugong and at least 13 shark species. The site harbors the highest concentration of marine lakes anywhere, isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers. They are among the islands’ distinctive features and sustain high endemism of populations which continue to yield new species discoveries.
I visited the rock islands of Palau back in 2007. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list on July of 2012.
There are few places that were more deserving of World Heritage status than the rock islands of Palau. Despite being one fo the smallest countries in the world, the rock islands feature some of the most unique landscapes on the planet. It is home to my #1 ranked dive spot in the world and my #1 ranked travel experience (swimming with jellyfish).
Not shabby for a country with under 20,000 people!
My only real question is why this wasn’t listed as a World Heritage site earlier.
View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.