Niger's Agadez granted World Heritage status

The historic town of Agadez in Niger, "a gateway to the desert" and renowned for its mudbrick buildings, was granted World Heritage status on Saturday, UNESCO said.

The historic city, which includes a mosque with an imposing minaret -- the tallest ever built in mudbrick -- and the Sultan's Palace, dates back to the fifteenth and sixteenth century.

The traditional sultanate system is still in place -- with the current Sultan attending the UNESCO meeting in Phnom Penh -- and the city is "a living historic centre inhabited by about 20,000 people", UNESCO said.

It is characterised by an adobe architecture, unfired clay brick obtained by sun drying and bears "witness to an exceptional architectural tradition, based on sophisticated use of mudbrick", UNESCO said in documents prepared ahead of their ongoing annual meeting in Phnom Penh.

UNESCO is currently holding a 10-day annual meeting in Phnom Penh during which it is considering adding 31 sites to the World Heritage List.

Two iconic volcanos -- Japan's Mount Fuji, known for its perfectly cone-shaped volcano, and Italy's Mount Etna -- as well as the Hill Forts of Rajasthan and the Namib Sand Sea are among the other natural wonders and cultural jewels to have been granted World Heritage status.