The mining landscape now ranks alongside the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids at Giza in terms of Unesco importance.
Among the more important landmarks on the coast is the Botallack Crowns ( pictured), a former tin and copper mine.
The move reflects Unesco's continuing interest in protecting industrial heritage sites.
Tessa Jowell, Culture, Media and Sport Minister, said: 'I am delighted the World Heritage Committee has recognised the mining landscape and its important contribution to national and international industrialisation.
'The area and its people have significantly influenced the development of mining and engineering culture, not just in the UK, but across the world.'
Cornwall and West Devon supplied much of the western world's tin and copper over the last 4,000 years, and during the 18th and 19th centuries the area was the world's greatest producer of these metals.