In the South east of Venezuela lies 30,000km sq Canaima National Park. The park was established in 1962 and protects the north-western section of the Guayana Shield, an ancient geological formation that Venezuela shares with Brazil, the Guianas and Columbia.
The park was originally 10,000km in size however in 1975 decisions were made to increase the land in order to protect the watershed function of its river basins. At that time it made the park the largest in the world and a similar size to that of Belgium.
In 1994 UNESCO declared the park to be a world heritage site due to its extraordinary scenery and geological and biological values. UNESCO has four seperate criterias that can allow an area to be protected as a world heritage site and Canaima managed to fulfil all four qualifications.
The biggest characteristic of Canaima is the flat top mountain formations that surround the area. There are also a large amount of fauna and flora in the site with one third of the plants being particular to this area.
The site is currently trying to stop the latent threat of gold and diamond mining in the area as the land has enormous mineral wealth. Mining is currently prohibited however several illegal booms have occurred in recent years.
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