World Stamps

New U.N. stamps picture six World Heritage sites in Southeast Asia

Apr 27, 2021, 8 AM
The latest stamps in the United Nations Postal Administration’s long-running World Heritage series feature the following sites in Southeast Asia: Luang Prabang, Laos; Borobudur Temple, Indonesia; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; Cordillera, Philippines; Ayutthaya, T

By Denise McCarty

The United Nations Postal Administration continued its World Heritage series June 5 with six new stamps and booklets focusing on Southeast Asia.

The series, which began in 1997, features cultural and natural sites that have been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

“Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration,” according to UNESCO.

Two of the new stamps, denominated 49¢ and $1.20, are for use from the UNPA post office at U.N. headquarters in New York City.

The 49¢ stamp honors Luang Prabang, a city in north-central Laos.

The old town portion of Luang Prabang was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1995, as “an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

Indonesia’s Borobudur Temple is featured on the $1.20 stamp. The world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur was built during the 8th and 9th centuries in Kedu Valley in Central Java.

The description of Borobudur on the website for the PBS Treasures of the World  television series reads in part: “Built from nearly two million stone blocks of andesite, a bluish-gray volcanic stone, Borobudur is shaped like a stepped pyramid, the base of which is 402 feet long from north to south and 383 feet long from east to west; the height is now 95 feet above ground level. The colossal monument consists of six rectangular terraces topped by three concentric circular terraces.

“Four of the terraces are galleries. … At first sight, the square galleries are an overwhelming mass of images depicting the activities of gods and mortals carved in the dark volcanic stone along the wide processional paths. There are more than 1,300 narrative panels illustrating the life of Buddha and Buddhist texts, the largest and most complete collection of Buddhist reliefs in the world … ”

Angkor Wat, another one of the world’s largest religious complexes, is shown on the 1.40-franc stamp for use from the UNPA post office at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Angkor Wat recently was voted as the 2015 winner of the Traveler’s Choice Landmark poll on the Trip Advisor website.

In announcing the winner, Trip Advisor said, “ … Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a true wonder, a magnificently mesmerizing ancient temple site built in the 12th century. A Hindu temple eventually converted to a Buddhist temple and surrounded by a massive 650-foot wide moat, Angkor Wat was named a UNESCO World Heritage site and has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on the Cambodian national flag.”

The other stamp for use from the Palais des Nations, a 1.90fr denomination, depicts the Ifugao rice terraces of the Cordillera Mountains on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.

The website, It’s More Fun in the Philippines,, gave this brief description: “Etched along the contours of the hills and mountains around the province, you will find a 2,000-year-old man-made engineering feat — and it looks like a staircase built for the gods. …”

Handed down from generation to generation, the terraces are considered a living “cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty,” according to UNESCO.

The historic city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, and the complex of Hue monuments in Vietnam are honored on the 0.80 and 1.70 stamps for use from the UNPA post office at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria.

Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya served as the capital of the Siamese kingdom for more than 400 years, as well as a center of global democracy and commerce, before being destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767.

The city’s historic remains, including tall reliquary towers and huge Buddhist monasteries, “give an idea of its past splendor,” according to UNESCO.

Gia Long, the first emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, founded Hue in 1802 as Vietnam’s capital. This city on the Perfume River (also called the Huong River) was a cultural and religious center during the 143 years of the dynasty.

Hundreds of monuments and ruins are included in the complex, which is known both for its architecture and beautiful landscaping.

Sergio Baradat of the United Nations designed the stamps, using photographs from Agefotostock.

Each stamp measures 50 millimeters by 35mm and is perforated gauge 13.

Joh. Enschede of the Netherlands printed the stamps by offset in sheets of 20.

The printing quantities are 130,000 each of the 49¢ and $1.20 stamps; 120,000 each of the €0.80 and €1.70; and 110,000 each of the 1.40fr and 1.90fr.

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Prestige booklets with stamps, text and illustrations also will be issued in the following quantities: 17,000 of the U.N./Vienna booklet, and 13,000 each of the U.N./New York and U.N./Geneva booklets.

The first stamps in the UNPA World Heritage series, issued Nov. 19, 1997, feature China’s terra-cotta warriors.

These stamps also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention.

The next UNPA World Heritage set, issued Dec. 4, 1998, highlighted Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria.

From 1999 through 2014, various World Heritage sites from the following countries or regions were honored on the stamps: Australia, March 19, 1999; Spain, Oct. 6, 2000; Japan, Aug. 1, 2001; Italy, Aug. 30, 2002; the United States, Oct. 24, 2003; Greece, Aug. 12, 2004; Egypt, Aug. 4, 2005; France, June 17, 2006; South America, Aug. 9, 2007; Germany, May 7, 2009; Nordic Countries, May 5, 2011; Africa, Sept. 5, 2012; China, April 11, 2013; and Taj Mahal, India, July 16, 2014.

For ordering information for the World Heritage Southeast Asia set, visit; e-mail; telephone 800-234-8672; fax 212-963-9854; or write to UNPA, Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-5900.