Checking off the world's most important natural and cultural wonders can be a herculean task.

The World Heritage List -- that most lauded and recognizable of preservation lists -- includes nearly 1,000 sites all over the world.

That number will almost certainly increase when the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization meets June 15-25 in Qatar.

Instead of sorting through that encyclopedic list, why not start at the very beginning with the first 11 sites?

981 sites all over the world. The first version of the list in 1978 included just 12, including L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Park in Canada. The park has an 11th-century Viking settlement, the earliest evidence of the first European presence in the New World.

Nahanni National Park in Canada is home to almost every known type of North American river and stream.

The extraordinary flora and fauna of Ecuador's Galapagos Islands inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Founded by the Spanish in 1534, Ecuador's capital city of Quito was the first capital city to be named to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Quito's Plaza Grande square is shown here.

Simien National Park in Ethiopia features some of the world's most magnificent landscapes.

Krakow's historic center in Poland is an excellent example of medieval architecture, including Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral.

Workers mined for salt in the Wieliczka and Bochnia Salt Mines in Poland from the 13th to the 20th centuries and turned some of the excavated sections into workshops and chapels. St. Anthony's Chapel is shown here.

The Island of Goree off the coast of Senegal was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

Mesa Verde National Park's stone and adobe cliff dwellings in Colorado were built by Ancestral Puebloans from the 1190s to the late 1270s. Ruins of Spruce Tree House are shown here.

Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is one of the few remaining large, intact ecosystems in the planet's northern temperate zone. The Yellowstone River is shown here.

By Katia Hetter, CNN

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