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And the seven natural wonders of the world are…

According to results of controversial global popularity poll announced today, the provisional winners include South America’s Amazon and Iguazu Falls, Vietnam’s Halong Bay, South Korea’s Jeju Island, Indonesia’s Komodo Island, The Philippines’ Puerto Princesa Underground River and South Africa’s Table Mountain.

(Losers include the Grand Canyon, the Galapagos Islands and the Dead Sea; the latter fell short despite a last-minute call for Israeli votes from the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.)

A total of 220 countries paid a registration fee of $199 to enter 440 candidates in the New7Wonders campaign, which was launched in 2007 by Canadian-Swiss marketer Bernard Weber following an earlier project aimed at updating the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The “natural wonder” submissions were whittled to 28 finalists, with the winners chosen through millions of votes submitted by phone, text message, and social networks, the AFP reports.

But according to London’s Guardian, the Maldives government moved to withdraw from the competition in May after a “surprise” demand for$500,000. The Indonesian government, representing Komodo Island national park, followed suit in August and said organizers wanted $10 million in licensing fees and $47 million to host the closing ceremony. both countries refused to pay, but remained in the competition.

Environmental campaigner and writer Tony Juniper told the Guardian “the idea of a global participatory process to engage millions of people in thinking through a list of top seven natural wonders of the world strikes me as a good idea,” but “charging countries fees to promote marketing is not, especially when they are developing countries and this was not part of the original offer put to them.”

The Zurich, Switzerland-based New 7 Wonders Foundation, which runs New7Wonders, denied it charges exorbitant fees to use its optional branding.

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