The term cultural heritage refers to non-renewable resources of cultural, scientific, spiritual or religious value—unique and irreplaceable artifacts and attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. 1 Cultural heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values.2 Heritage can be used by a people to outline their identity, values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions3 and therefore as a way to cope with today’s rapid socio-economic changes.4

The term ‘cultural heritage’ is used throughout Europe; in the USA the term ‘cultural resources’ is sometimes used in lieu of the full term ‘cultural heritage resources’.5

The concept of cultural heritage has two sub-categories: ‘tangible’ and ‘intangible’. Examples of tangible cultural heritage include moveable objects (artefacts) as well as immoveable objects (sites, structures, groups of structures, historic places, natural features, and/or landscapes6) deemed to be of cultural, historical, archaeological, paleontological significance.7 Examples of intangible cultural heritage include cultural practices and religious values, such as language, oral history, dances, music, cuisine, clothing, forms of shelter, traditional skills and technologies, religious ceremonies, performing arts, storytelling, etc. 8


  1. UNESCO Office in Cairo. Tangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO website.[Accessed 2014-March-25]. 

  2. ICOMOS, International Cultural Tourism Charter. Principles And Guidelines For Managing Tourism At Places Of Cultural And Heritage Significance. ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee. 2002. 

  3. Council of Europe. 2005. Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society.(article 2(a)) 

  4. UNESCO. 2006. A Guide for African Local Governments: Cultural heritage & local development. 


  6. ‘Cultural landscapes’ refer to unique natural environmental features that embody cultural values (e.g., sacred groves) or which have been fashioned in unique ways by human activity over the course of time (e.g., the ‘longji rice terraces’). 

  7. [UNESCO Office in Cairo. Tangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO website.[Accessed 2014-March-25].