During the last meeting of the Permanent Council the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) celebrated the inclusion on the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) list of World Heritage sites of the Andean road system Qhapaq Ñan, which crosses six members of the Organization.
The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, welcomed the decision by UNESCO to include “a road system that demonstrates the genius of the Incas and the incredible reach of their culture, and that also reminds us that the unity of the Americas is not just a political slogan, but a historical reality. This reality is reflected today in the joint efforts of Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador that culminated in this announcement.”
In a meeting of the Permanent Council of the hemispheric institution, the Permanent Representative of Peru to the OAS, Juan Federico Jiménez Mayor, explained that, “thanks to the Qhapaq Ñan, the Incas were able to join the great historical, natural and cultural diversity of the territory that today is part of the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.”
“The inclusion of this route in the World Heritage List of UNESCO is a recognition of the historical richness of these six OAS member countries, joined historically by this system of roads, that was crossed a complex geography along the ridge of the Andes, with monumental pathways and thanks to the management of the outstanding construction techniques of the Inca civilization,” said Ambassador Jiménez Mayor.
Upon the announcement of its inclusion in the list of World Heritage sites, UNESCO explained the decision, saying “this extraordinary network through one of the world’s most extreme geographical terrains, linked the snow-capped peaks of the Andes – at an altitude of more than 6,000 meters – to the coast, running through hot rainforests, fertile valleys and absolute deserts.” The worldwide organization highlighted that the inclusion emphasizes “the social, political, architectural and engineering achievements of the network, along with its associated infrastructure for trade, accommodation and storage, and sites of religious significance.”
The Qhapaq Ñan, which means in Quechua “royal road,” is some 5,200 kilometers long, and reaches from Quito to what is today Tucumán, in Argentina. Although some portions lie beneath cities today, a large part of the enormous network remains passable. Connecting Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire, with all of its territories, the Qhapaq Ñan eased communication with the many peoples of the empire, and served as a means of integration as much political as administrative, socioeconomic, and cultural. Among other cities, the route passes through the current sites of Lima, La Paz, Cochabamba, Santiago and Salta. Its most famous stretch, known as “the path of the Inca,” connects Cuzco with Machu Picchu, and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists annually.
This is the first time that six countries have presented a proposal to the World Heritage Committee, and was the result of a process that lasted more than ten years, and in which the cooperation between the six OAS member states was critically important. Together with the Qhapaq Ñan, UNESCO added to the list of now 988 World Heritage Sites the Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey in Germany, and the Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche.
During the meeting, the Peruvian Ambassador presented a video showing the historic and cultural value of the Andean road system.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.