December 2, 2013
VILNIUS (Lithuania): India, home to rich amber deposits that date back 50 million years, has been invited to join the World Amber Road, an exhaustive global project being spearheaded by the UN to develop tourism routes that run through areas rich in amber-commonly called natural gold.In a letter of invitation to India sent this month (a copy of which is available with TOI), the secretary general of the World Tourism Organization of the UN ( UNWTO) Taleb Rifai and the director general of Lithuania’s state tourism department Raimonda Balniene has invited India to share its rich knowledge of amber deposits in Gujarat and help develop the virtual Amber Road.
The initial part of the Amber Road project, the Lithuanian Amber Road, will be unveiled to the world on December 19 at Vilnius during the second world amber conference.
The idea to create the World Amber Road on the lines of the Silk Route, to map age old international trading points of amber, was first floated by Lithuania in June 2012.
Amber is a fossilized resin that takes millions of years to form and turn into stone. It is created through a defence mechanism of certain kinds of trees. When the bark is punctured, a sticky resin oozes out to seal the damage. It is usually yellow or orange in colour and transparent. Once the resin is expelled, it hardens and drops, eventually getting buried.
Over the next few thousand years, this resin gets fossilised and turns to stone. Several countries which are home to amber deposits—Russia, Poland, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine and Austria—have joined the project.
Hungary, Georgia, Jordan, Mexico and Dominican Republic, home to the rarest blue amber, are expected to join the project during the Dec 19 conference.