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Saving Places

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Enlightened Preservation
Photograph by Michael Yamashita

A resplendent Buddha draws worshipful monks at a restored temple in Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos. A World Heritage listing, granted in 1995, applies to the entire town with its ornate shrines and its mix of traditional Asian and French-colonial homes and offices. Officials welcome the added tourist income that a World Heritage listing usually brings. But with the recognition comes a responsibility to manage and protect the site. Since Luang Prabang made the list, the government has responded to World Heritage concerns and passed zoning laws to keep the historic area free of billboards and other intrusive structures.

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