User DonMartini (see link) wrote a great description of the statue's history.
UNESCO, Art - Sculpture
The 71 meter (233 foot) statue is the largest stone Buddha in the world and is the tallest pre-modern statue in the world. The statue was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Direct link below.
Links: virtualglobetrotting.com, en.wikipedia.org, www.google.com