The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has named Bohol as its first Global Geopark in the Philippines.
The island province, which houses the famous Chocolate Hills, was one of 18 new sites recently added to the UNESCO Global Geoparks network.
This means the Philippines along with New Zealand are the two latest UNESCO member states to join the network, bringing the total number of geoparks to 195 across 48 countries.
Created in 2015, the UNESCO Global Geopark label recognizes "geological heritage of international significance." These official sites are said to serve local communities through conservation, public outreach, and sustainable development efforts.
"The geopark abounds in karstic geosites such as caves, sinkholes, and cone karst, including the famous cone-shaped Chocolate Hills in the center of the geopark," UNESCO posted.
According to the organization, Bohol Island comprises 8,808 square kilometers including land and marine areas.
"The island’s geological identity has been pieced together over 150 million years, as periods of tectonic turbulence have raised the island from the ocean depths. Traces of the island’s subterranean past can be found in the limestone which forms characteristic karstic structures," UNESCO wrote.
It noted that the Danajon Double Barrier Reef along the northern coast is the "only one of its kind in Southeast Asia and one of just six documented double barrier reefs on Earth." This is said to provide visitors with an opportunity to study 6,000 years of coral growth.
UNESCO also recognized Bohol's tourism as a growing sector since the island is a "prime eco-cultural destination thanks to its white sand beaches, diving spots, magnificent geological formations, rich biodiversity, and cultural heritage."