Kyoto, (Japan) - UNESCO's World Heritage Committee today announced it removed the Old City of Dubrovnik (Croatia) and the Wieliczka Salt Mines (Poland) from its List of World Heritage in Danger due to the success of measures undertaken for their restoration and preservation.

Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast city dubbed "the pearl of the Adriatic" and dotted with beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, was among the first sites to be included in the World Heritage List in 1979. In 1991, after armed conflict threatened to destroy monuments that had withstood the passing of centuries as well as several earthquakes, it was included in the List of World Heritage in Danger. Since then, the Croatian government has restored the facades of Franciscan and Dominican cloisters, repaired roofs and rebuilt palaces there with, notably, a contribution of US$300,000 from UNESCO.

The Wieliczka Salt Mine, near Cracow - included in the World Heritage List in 1978 and inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1989 - has been actively worked since the 13th century. Its 300 kilometres of galleries which contain famous works of art, altars and statues sculpted in salt were threatened by humidity. Since the start of preservation work on the site, UNESCO's World Heritage Fund has contributed US$100,000 towards the cost of installing efficient dehumidifying equipment in the mine.

The List of World Heritage in Danger will now number 23 sites around the world. They include natural reserves and historic monuments such as Angkor (Cambodia), the Everglades and Yellowstone national parks (United States), and Timbuktu (Mali). The List also includes four sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including Okapi Wildlife Reserve, where unrest in early 1997 led to the looting of facilities and the killing of elephants.

The List of endangered sites is designed to attract the attention of world leaders and focus public opinion on the need to preserve cultural or natural sites of universal value that are particularly threatened by human intervention or natural causes. It is revised annually at the meeting of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, which this year is taking place in Kyoto (Japan) from November 30 to December 5. The Committee will announce new sites to be included in the World Heritage List on December 2.