The Grand Canyon, the Matterhorn and the Great Barrier Reef are competing with 25 other spectacular natural landmarks in the final phase of the global poll to choose the “New 7 Wonders of Nature.”
The Amazon rainforest, the Dead Sea, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and Ecuador’s Galapagos islands are also among the finalists, the organization New 7 Wonders, led by Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber, said on Tuesday.
People can vote by Internet or phone. The winners will be announced in 2011 and share in the glory already enjoyed by the seven man-made wonders chosen two years ago.
More than 1 billion people are expected to join in the voting, Weber said.
“This campaign should contribute to the appreciation — to the knowledge — of our environment and not just the one in our country but worldwide,” he said. “If we or our children want to save anything, we should first appreciate it.”
The finalists also include Azerbaijan’s Mud Volcanoes, Lebanon’s Jeita Grotto, Ireland’s Moher Cliffs and Germany’s Black Forest.
A panel of experts chose the finalists among the 77 nominees that gained the most votes in an early round of polling. People had suggested 261 landmarks all over the world.
The panel chaired by Federico Mayor, former chief of UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, picked the finalists depending on geographical balance, diversity and the importance to human life.
High voter participation has come from Asian countries, including Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam, as well as from Latin America, he said.
“US voters’ participation is always quite high,” he added.
Africa, where most people vote by mobile phones, has had the biggest increase in votes over the last few weeks, Weber said.
Weber declined to give any specific numbers of votes so far. But the organization plans to release details about voter profiles later. Registration on the Web site aims to prevent people from voting twice.