Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape

South Africa World Heritage Sites

Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape

Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape © UNESCO
Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape © UNESCO

Mapungubwe is set hard against the northern border of South Africa, joining Zimbabwe and Botswana. Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape is an open, expansive savannah landscape at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers.

Mapungubwe developed into the largest kingdom in the sub-continent before it was abandoned in the 14th century. What survives are the almost untouched remains of the palace sites and also the entire settlement area dependent upon them, as well as two earlier capital sites, the whole presenting an unrivalled picture of the development of social and political structures over some 400 years.

Justification for Inscription: Criterion (ii):
The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape contains evidence for an important interchange of human values that led to far-reaching cultural and social changes in Southern Africa between AD 900 and 1300. Criterion (iii): The remains in the Mapungubwe cultural landscape are a remarkably complete testimony to the growth and subsequent decline of the Mapungubwe state which at its height was the largest kingdom in the African sub-continent. Criterion (iv): The establishment of Mapungubwe as a powerful state trading through the East African ports with Arabia and India was a significant stage in the history of the African sub-continent. Criterion (v): The remains in the Mapungubwe cultural landscape graphically illustrate the impact of climate change and record the growth and then decline of the kingdom of Mapungubwe as a clear record of a culture that became vulnerable to irreversible change. (Source: UNESCO)

Mapungubwe National Park:
Out of the mist of the mysterious past rises the Mapungubwe National Park. Located at the confluence of the mighty Shashi and Limpopo Rivers, this envisaged transfrontier park embracing South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe gives tangible proof by way of the rich fossil deposits, Bushman rock art and gold artefacts of ancient civilisations that once flourished here. The giant baobab trees, riverine forests and associated flood plains provide an intriguing mix of habitat for a tremendous diversity of creatures, among them the rare Pel’s fishing owl. Here herds of elephant and buffalo roam, and the roar of the hunting lion, chills your blood as it stills the night. Its location puts it at the meeting point of Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The area is intended to become a Transfrontier Park linking Mapungubwe with Botswana’s Tuli Block and the Tuli Safari Area of Zimbabwe.

Most of Africa’s big game still occurs in the area and the bird, reptile, invertebrate and plant diversity is still rich. While the park currently has limited facilities, visitors to the area can make use of privately run facilities. The highlight of the park is the Mapungubwe Archaeological Site. This location was a precursor to Great Zimbabwe and Thulamela. It was also the location where the Gold Rhino and many other artefacts were uncovered ... See additional info at Mapungubwe National Park.

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Did You Know?
World Heritage Sites recognise and protect areas of outstanding natural, historical and cultural value. Given South Africa's diverse culture and history and her spectacular natural resources and wildlife, it is not surprising that South Africa boasts 8 World Heritage Sites.

With 20+ National Parks (including two of the world's most famous wildlife reserves, the Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) and countless private game reserves, your trip to South Africa would be incomplete without experiencing a South African wildlife safari ...
Information about the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in Limpopo (Northern) Province, South Africa
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