By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV, Port Moresby
The Great Barrier Reef covers a total area of 348, 000 square kilometres, and located off the coast of Queensland in north-east Australia. Known as the “largest living thing on earth”, the reef spans more than 1200 miles and is visible from outer space.
The Great Barrier Reef was recently ranked second, on Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist among the world’s must see places, coming ahead of India’s Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China. The list was made from highlights in Lonely Planet guidebooks over the last 40 years.
The iconic Great Barrier Reef comprises of the world’s largest collection of coral reefs and hundreds of islands made up of over 600 varieties of soft and hard coral, and is home to numerous species of fish, sharks, dolphins, mollusc, starfish, turtles, and other marine life. It is also the habitat of species such as the dugong (‘sea cow’) and the large green turtle, which are threatened with extinction.
The Great Barrier Reef was inscribed as World Heritage in 1981.
The Great Barrier Reef will be featured in a new Tourism Australia campaign later in the year, carrying the slogan “come over to our place for a swim”. The campaign is aimed at promoting coastal attractions. A new Sir David Attenborough documentary on the reef is set to be released in early 2016.
Spokesman of Lonely Planet, Chris Zeiher, reportedly said that the Great Barrier Reef was worthy of its rank on the list, stating that the ecosystem enthralled all its visitors.
Lonely Planet’s list of the 500 Best Places in the World was topped by the Temples of Angkor in Cambodi, the largest religious monument in the world. The Temples of Angkor were originally founded as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, and gradually transformed over time into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century.
Nine other iconic Australian sites also made the list: the Twelve Apostles off the Great Ocean Road in Victoria was ranked 12th; Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart listed at number 20, Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain at 32, Uluru at 33, Kakadu National Park came in at 56, the Sydney Opera House was 57th, the Blue Mountains National Park 202nd, Western Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park at 265th and Port Arthur in Tasmania taking 416th place.
Top Ten Places on Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist
1. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
3. Machu Picchu, Peru
4. Great Wall of China
5. Taj Mahal, India
6. Grand Canyon National Park, USA
7. Colosseum, Italy
8. Iguazu Falls, Brazil-Argentina
9. Alhambra, Spain
10. Aya Sofya, Turkey