24 June 2014 by Alex Stewart
UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has added the extensive Inca road network - the Qapaq Ñan - to its World heritage List, meaning that the network could benefit from international financing for conservation and restoration.
The network of trails, which crosses six countries across South America is the continent's first serial property and was selected for the social, political, architectural and engineering achievements associated with it.
The road network connected the Inca Empire, known as Tahuantinsuyo, and spanned 30,000 kilometres from Colombia to Argentina, via Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile; the main highway alone is 6,000 km long, whilst the most famous section leads to Machu Picchu in Peru.
The Incas adopted earlier roads in the 15th century and joined sections to create a complete network that connected the coast and mountains with the altiplano and rainforest. Many of the sections are still regularly used and even those that aren't are still clearly visible in the desert or Andean valleys.
The World Heritage Committee also selected other sites for the updated list. These included the Maya city of Calakmul and natural or cultural sites in Costa Rica, India, Russia and Vietnam.