- 1: property that descends to an heir
- 2a : something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor : legacy, inheritance
- b : tradition
- 3: something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth : birthright <the nation's heritage of tolerance
Cultural heritage ("national heritage" or just "heritage") is the legacy of physical artifacts (cultural property) and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage includes tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts), intangible culture (such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally-significant landscapes, and biodiversity).
The deliberate act of keeping cultural heritage from the present for the future is known as Preservation (American English) or Conservation (British English), though these terms may have more specific or technical meaning in the same contexts in the other dialect.
Cultural heritage is unique and irreplaceable, which places the responsibility of preservation on the current generation. Smaller objects such as artworks and other cultural masterpieces are collected in museums and art galleries. Grass roots organizations and political groups, such as the international body UNESCO, have been successful at gaining the necessary support to preserve the heritage of many nations for the future.