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Halong Bay (Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long) is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Quảng Ninh province, Vietna. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes.
Local legend says that long ago when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the gods sent a family of dragons to help to defend the land. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. The people kept their land safe and formed what later became the country of Vietnam. After that, dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the Earth and decided to live here then. The place where Mother Dragon flew down was named Hạ Long (originally spelled 下龍), the place where the dragon children attended upon their mother was called Bái Tử Long island (Bái: attend upon, Tử: children, Long: dragon), and the place where the dragon children wriggled their tails violently was called Bạch Long Vỹ island (Bạch: white- colour of the foam made when Children Dragon wriggle, Long: dragon, Vỹ: tail).
Halong bay is in Northeastern, Vietnam at from E106°56' to E107°37' and from N20°43' to N21°09'. The bay stretches from Yên Hưng district, pass Hạ Long city, Cẩm Phả town to Vân Đồn district, bodered on the south and southeast by Gulf of Tonkin, on the north by China and on the west and southwest by Cát Bà island. The bay has a 120 kilometre long coastline and is approximately 1,553 square kilometres in size with 1969 isles. The area admitted by UNESCO as world's natural heritage is 434 km² with 775 isles of which the core zone is limited by 3 points: Đầu Gỗ island on the west, Ba Hầm lake on the south and Cống Tây island on the east, the protected area is from Cái Dăm petrol store to Quang Hanh commune, Cẩm Phả town and the hinterland zone around.
The bay is a sea islands in tropical wet with 2 seasons: hot and moist summer, dry and cold winter. Average temperature is from 15°C- 25°C. Annual rainfall is between 2000mm and 2200mm. Halong bay has the typical diurnal tide system (tide amplitude ranges from 3.5-4m). The salinity is from 31 to 34.5MT in dry season and lower in rainy season.
Soi Nhụ culture (16000- 5000 BC)
Locating in Hạ Long and Bái Tử Long, there are symbolic archaeological site such as Mê Cung, Tiên Ông, Thiên Long. The remain relic major in mountain shellfishes (Cyclophorus) and spring shellfishes (Melania), some fresh water mollusc and some subdimentary labour tools. The main living procedure of Soi Nhụ's habitants are catching shells and fishes, collecting fruits and digging bulbs and roots. Their living environment is coastal area dislike other Vietnamese culture, for example: Hoà Bình, Bắc Sơn, etc. those days.
System of isles and caves
The bay consists of a dense cluster of 1,969 limestone monolithic islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Đầu Gỗ (Wooden stakes Cave) is the largest grotto in the Halong area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalamites (as well as 19th century French graffiti). There are two bigger islands, Tuan Chau and Cat Ba, that have permanent inhabitants. Both of them have tourist facilities, including hotels and beaches. There are a number of wonderful beaches on the smaller islands.
Some of the islands support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks. Many of the islands have acquired their names as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes: such names include Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and Mai Nha Islet (roof). 989 of the islands have been given names. Birds and animals including bantams, antelopes, monkeys, and iguanas also live on some of the islands.
A community of around 1600 people live on Halong bay in 4 fishing villages: Cửa Vạn, Ba Hang, Cống Tàu and Vông Viêng in Hùng Thắng commune, Hạ Long city. They live on floating houses and are sustained by capture fishing and marine aquaculture (cultivating marine biota).
Originally in Ha Long Bay there was only one fishing village. Now there are about ten.
In 1962, Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism arranged Halong Bay as National Renowned Lanscape Vestige.
The bay was World's Natural Heritage listed by UNESCO at the 18th meeting of the Committee of the World Heritages of UNESCO (in Phuket, Thailand on December 17th, 1994) for its outstanding universal aesthetic value according to the criteria (vii) explained in the Operational Guilined for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. On December 2nd, 2000 at the 24th meeting of Committee of the World Heritages in Cairns city, Queensland state, Australia, Halong bay was admitted as World's Natural Heritage extensively for its outstanding universal geological and geomorphological value according to the criteria (viii) of that Convention.
Halong bay was introduced to nominate by New Open World Foundation as World's 7 Natural Wonder having result on 08/08/2008.
Geology and Geomorphology
History of Tectonics
Scientist said that Halong bay has experienced at least 500 million years in various of ancient geographic condition such as orogeny, marine transgression andmarine regression. In Ordovician and Silurian period (500-410 million years ago), Halong bay is deep sea. In Carboniferous and Permian period (340-250 million years ago), Halong bay is at shallow sea level
Vietnam government is submiting Halong bay in three times in Vietnam's Tentative list to UNESCO for its outstanding universal biodiversity value. The bay includes 2 ecosystem: tropical moist evergreen rainforest ecosystem and marine and coastal ecosystem with 7 endemic species.
Tropical moist evergreen rainforest ecosystem
It said that there are 477 magnoliales, 12 pteris, 20 salt marsh flora and 4 amphibia, 10 reptilia, 40 aves, 4 mammalia in this ecosystem located in islands in Halong bay.