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 Halong Bay

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PostSubject: Halong Bay   Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:45 am

Ha Long Bay (literally: "Descending Dragon Bay"; Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quảng Ninh province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Ha Long City, Cẩm Phả town, and part of Van Don district. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Ha Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bi Tử Long bay to the northeast, and Ct B islands to the southwest. These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.

Ha Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets.[1] The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate.[2] The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem.[3] Ha Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species[4] and 60 endemic faunal species.[5]

Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhụ culture around 18,000-7,000 BC, the Ci Bo culture 7,000-5,000 BC[6] and the Hạ Long culture 3,500-5,000 years ago.[7] Ha Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many artifacts found in Bi Thơ Mout, Đầu Gỗ Cave, Bi Chy.[7]

500 years ago, Nguyen Trai praised the beauty of Ha Long Bay in his verse Lộ nhập Vn Đồn, in which he called it "rock wonder in the sky".[8] In 1962, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam listed Ha Long Bay in the National Relics and Landscapes publication.[9] In 1994, the core zone of Ha Long Bay was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site according to criteria vii, and listed for a second time according to criteria viii.

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