So far three spots of Bangladesh have been declared by UNESCO as world heritage sites. These are: Paharpur Buddhist Monastery of Noagaon, Bagerhat Mosque City and the Sundarbans. The first two sites are parts of world cultural heritage and the rest belongs to world's natural heritage, as the Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest of the world.
The World Heritage Committee includes a site in its heritage list considering several criteria. It declared Paharpur a new world heritage site considering the fact that it was a unique architectural monument of pre-Islamic era located to the south of Himalaya. The temple in the centre of the single largest architectural complex of the ancient period was a rare example of artwork on stone reliefs and terracotta plaques of Pala era depicting an extraordinary aesthetical outlook. It has been presumed that the architectural design of the Paharpur monastery had influenced the architects of Ananda Temple of Pagan, Myanmar and Lor Jangrang and Chandi Sheua temples of Java.
Bagerhat-Khalifatabad the mosque city of mediaeval age famous for its various archeological edifices is situated in Bagerhat district, north of Sundarbans. Shatgumbad mosque, Zindapeer Mosque, nine-domed Mosque, Khan Jahan's Residence and the Tomb complex, among many others, are remarkable heritage sites of high archaeological merit.
Bibi Begni Mosque, another site enlisted in the world heritage list, is located beside the Shatgumbad Mosque over an area of only 10 square metre. It has four corner towers, three arched doorways on the east wall and one archway each on the north and south walls. Chunakhola Mosque, situated 500 metre east of Bibi Begni mosque over an area of 12.19 square metre, is a single-domed one having four corner towers. The Nine-Domed Mosque is a rectangular shaped mosque situated on an area of 15.24 square metre on the west bank of nearby Thakur Dighi, a huge water body, also has four corner towers and one archway on each of the east, north and south walls. The Nine-Domed Mosque is a rare example in the mosque architecture of Bengal.
The Sundarbans is the lone world natural heritage site of Bangladesh. This is the largest single block mangrove forest spreading over an area of about 5759 square kilometres in Bangladesh. Because of the partition of India, Bangladesh received 2/3 of the forest and the rest is the on Indian side. The forest in Bangladesh territory lies under four administrative ranges under the districts of Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat. It is further divided into nine blocks and 55 compartments for better management. About 32.400 hectares of reserved forest here have been declared as wild life sanctuaries. The Sandurbans consists of about 200 islands, separated by about 400 interconnected tidal rivers, creeks and canals.
The vegetation of the forest is largely of mangrove type and encompasses a variety of plants. The dominating species are: Sundari (Hesitiera fomes) and Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha). Among others, Goran (Ceriops decandra). Keora (Sonneratia apetala) and Passur (Xylocarpus mekongensis) are prominent species grown here. Most of the trees have pneamatophores for aerial respiration. Within the forest habitats, there are 50 species of mammals, 320 species of inland and migratory birds, about 50 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibians and about 400 species of fish.
In 1764, the Sundarbans was shown in the map prepared by the surveyor general of the East India Company government of India. In 1860, the Department of Forestry was constituted in the province of Bengal, India, which took over the management of the forest. Under the Forest Act enacted by the British government in 1865, the Sundarbans, a real showpiece of natural history, was declared as a reserve forest in 1875-76.