HA LONG BAY (WORLD NATURAL HERITAGE – 1994, 2000)

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Situated in the north-east region of Viet Nam, Ha Long Bay is a group of offshore islands that is the best example of marine invaded tower karst in the world.

Halong Bay covers a total area of 1,553km², including 1,969 islands of various sizes, 989 of which have been given names. There are caves and grottoes, with stalactites and stalagmites. Its limestone pillars are an unique natural feature of great scenic beauty and biological interest. The great extent and the richness of its forms sets it apart from other sites. There are two kinds, limestone and schist, which are concentrated in two main zones: the south-east (belonging to Bai Tu Long Bay) and the south-west (belonging to Halong Bay).

The most remarkable geological events of Halong Bay’s history in the last 1,000 years include the advance of the sea, the raising of the bay area and the strong erosion that has formed coral and pure blue and heavily-salted water. This process of erosion by sea water has deeply engraved the stone, contributing to its fantastic beauty. Present-day Halong Bay is the result of this long process of geological evolution that has been influenced by so many factors. It is because of all these factors that the tourists now visiting Halong Bay are not only treated to one of the true wonders of the world, but also to a precious geological museum that has been naturally preserved in the open air for the last 300 million years.

Halong is a place closely linked to Vietnam’s history with such famous geographical names as: Van Don (site of an ancient commercial port); Poem Mountain (with engravings of many poems by emperors and other famous people of the past); and Bach Dang River (the location of two fierce naval battles fought against foreign aggressors). This is not all, Halong has been proven by scientists to be one of the first cradles of human existence in the area, with such archaeological sites as Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu and Thoi Gieng…

On December 17, 1994, Halong Bay was recognised as world natural heritage for its natural beauty at the 18th meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Thailand. On December 12, 2000, Halong Bay was recognised as world natural heritage for the second time based on its geological value at the 24th meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Cairns, Australia. The recognised site covers an area of 434km², comprises 775 islands and forms a triangle: with Dau Go Island (Driftwood Grotto) to the west; Ba Ham Lake (Three Shelter Lake) to the south and Cong Tay Island to the east.

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