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Djerba island, Czech hops region added to world heritage list

By AFP
September 19, 2023

TUNIS: Unesco announced on Monday it was adding the Tunisian resort island of Djerba to its list of World Heritage Sites because of its ancient ruins, whitewashed villages, mosques, churches and synagogues.

The United Nations cultural organisation took the decision in Saudi Arabia, during its 45th world heritage committee meeting. “The committee meeting of Unesco member states has just approved the inscription on the World Heritage List of the island of Djerba,” the organisation´s regional director for the Maghreb, Eric Falt, said.

Djerba covers an area of 514 square kilometres, and is the largest island off North Africa. It combines desert areas bordering the Mediterranean with agricultural land growing palm and olive trees. Unesco´s website says “the distinctive human settlement of Djerba demonstrates the way local people adapted their lifestyle to the conditions of their water-scarce natural environment”.

Djerba is considered to be the mythological island in Homer´s “Odyssey” where Ulysses and his companions encounter the lotus eaters. It also featured in “Star Wars” as parts of the planet Tatooine.

Tunisia´s culture ministry on Monday welcomed what it called the “final acceptance” of Djerba, saying the Unesco decision “does justice to the joint efforts” of both the authorities and civil society.

Meanwhile, the United Nations cultural organisation on Monday added the Czech town of Zatec, which is renowned for a local hops used in beer production worldwide, to its World Heritage List. “Just inscribed... Zatec and the Landscape of Saaz Hops, Czechia. Bravo!” the cultural organisation said on X, formerly known as Twitter.