The "World Heritage Convention" was decided upon at the 1972 UNESCO General Conference, to select "natural and cultural heritages" and to record them in a "List of World Heritages", which is of exceptional interest and value for all of humanity. The list is kept at the UNESCO building in Paris. The aim of the Convention is to make an effective contribution in cooperation with all peoples to the protection of this "World Heritage".
The Convention has been joined by 152 states. A total of 552 "objects" in 112 states have been added to the World Heritage List to date: 418 "objects" of which are cultural heritages, 114 are natural heritages, and 20 "objects", which are both (including the "Hallstatt - Dachstein / Salzkammergut" culturally historic region (as of: January 1998).
Austria joined the Convention in 1992; considerations concerning individual regulations governing nature protection hindered joining earlier.
The historic Hallstatt / Dachstein cultural landscape is a part of the Salzkammergut and is distinguished by its rare fauna and flora, important archaeological and speleological finds and sites and its cultural continuity spanning more than 4500 years. The core area of this cultural landscape around Hallstatt is contained within the High Dachstein to the south, the Gosau Crest and the Gosau Lake to the west, the Gosauzwang to the north and the east bank of the Hallstatt Lake - and is also surrounded by a large buffer zone reaching into the provinces of Salzburg and Styria.
The significance of this cultural continuity emerging from the settlement of Hallstatt is marked by the architectural effect of the original Gothic, which was restored and rebuilt in the Baroque style following a fire.
The Dachstein Glacier region and the karst formations with the internationally famous caves and cave systems are of special speleological interest. The flourishing flora and fauna are not typical of a bizarre mountain landscape with fjord-like lakes and contribute a great deal to their importance.