RIO DE JANEIRO; The Brazilian colonial port town of Paraty and the nearby region of Ilha Grande were chosen on Friday as a new World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

UNESCO heritage sites can be either natural, cultural or mixed sites. Due to the cultural and natural value of the area, Paraty and Ilha Grande were chosen as a mixed, culture and biodiversity site, the first in Brazil.

"Located between the Serra da Bocaina mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, this cultural landscape includes the historic center of Paraty, one of Brazil's best-preserved coastal towns, as well as four protected natural areas of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the world's five key biodiversity hotspots," UNESCO said in a statement.

Paraty is an old port town dating back to the 18th century, whose town center's 18th and 19th century architecture has been largely preserved. It used to be an entry point for African slaves and the port from which gold mined in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais was shipped to Europe.

Nowadays, Paraty is a tourism town and hosts one of the largest literary festivals in Brazil.

According to UNESCO, the area is home to "an impressive diversity of species, some of which are threatened, such as the jaguar, the white-lipped peccary and several primate species, including the woolly spider monkey, which are emblematic of the site."


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