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     Ha long world heritage sites

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Geographical Location and Climate
Halong Bay is located in the Northeast of Vietnam, belonging to QuangNinh Province. It is in the coastal area stretching from 1060'56 to 1070' 37 east longitude and 200 43' to 210 09' north latitude. To the west and northwest, Halong Bay stretches  from Yen Hung District, and includes the large urban areas of Halong City and Cam Pha Town, as well as Van Don Island District. To the south and southeast, it is adjacent to the western Tonkin Gulf and to the west and southwest lies Cat Ba Island in the province of Hai Phong.  On the world map, Ha Long Bay borders to China in the north and in the east it is adjacent to the East Sea.

In 1962, the Ministry of Culture and Information classified Halong Bay as a National Landscape Site, covering an area of 1,553 km2 with 1,969 islands. Halong Bay has  been recognized twice by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area for its universal values of landscape, geology and geomorphology, respectively in 1994 and 2000, an area of 434 sq. km. including 775 islands.
The area inscribed by UNESCO (the Protected Area I - the Core Zone) is bound by Dau Go Island in the east, Ba Ham Lake in the south and Cong Tay Island in the east. The Protected Area II - the Buffer Zone is identified by the shore of the Bay running along the National Highway No. 18A, from the Gasoline Warehouse B12 in Cai Dam Precinct to the km.11 marker in Quang Hanh Precinct, Cam Pha Town. The Protected Area III - the Hinterland Zone is the sea or mainland area surrounding the buffer zone, including the area adjacent to the Cat Ba National Park of Hai Phong City.
- Climate is featured humid tropical charactor, including two distinct seasons: hot, humid with much rainning in summer and cold, dry in winter. The average temperature ranges from 150 ? 250C with annual average rainfall of 2,000 ? 2,200mm/year. Halong Bay has a typical tidal time (tidal amplitude ranges from 3.5' 4.0m. The degree of salt in the sea water ranges from 31' 34.5% in the dry season and decreases in the rainy season.

History of the name Halong:
Ha Long is literally translated as "Bay of Descending Dragons." Prior to the 19th century, this name was not recorded in any document or archive. When mentioning the present-day Quang Ninh Sea or Ha Long Bay, old historical books often referred to them by the names of An Bang, Luc Thuy or Van Don.  Not until the late 19th century did the name of Halong Bay appear on a French Marine Map. The Hai Phong News, a French newspaper of the time, had an article, Dragon appears on Ha Long Bay, reporting the following story: In 1898 a sub-lieutenant named Lagredin, captaining the Avalanse, reported seeing a huge sea snake on Ha Long Bay. This was also witnessed by many of the crews. Thus emerged the European image of the Asian dragon. Whether this appearance of a strange animal looking like a dragon resulted the name of Ha Long Bay is not known (Reference ?Quang Ninh: Art and Culture? published in 2002).

There is also a local legend, which has been handed down, relating to the name Ha Long Bay, which tells the following tale:
Long ago, in the first founding days, the Viet people were attacked by foreign aggressors. The Jade Emperor sent the Mother Dragon and her band of Child Dragons to help the Viet people fight the invaders. While the enemy vessels were launching massive attacks against the mainland, the dragons descended in flocks from the sky. They spat out innumerable pearls which changed into  jade stone islands the moment they touched the water. These islands linked together to form firm citadels that checked the enemy?s advance and smashed their vessels to pieces.
After the invaders were driven out, Mother Dragon and her Child Dragons did not return to Heaven but stayed on earth, right at the place where the battle occurred. The spot where the Mother Dragon landed was Ha Long, and where the Child Dragons came down was Bai Tu Long. The place where their tails violently wagged was called Long Vi, the present-day Tra Co Peninsula with its soft sandy beach stretching many kilometers.
The system of islands and caves
Most of the islands on Ha Long Bay are limestone and were formed over 500 million years ago, and are massed in the southeast and southwest. The schist islands scattered in the southeast have an average height of between 50-200m, and have a rich covering of flora.

Within the islands of the Bay there are hundreds of beautiful caves of different shapes and sizes, including many famous names such as Thien Cung, Dau Go, Sung Sot, Tam Cung and Bo Nau. Some of them are archaeological sites retaining tangible archaeological evidence, such as Dau Go, Bo Nau, Sung Sot, Soi Nhu, Tien Long, Me Cung, and Trinh Nu caves.

Population of Halong Bay
Halong Bay's inhabitants are distributed as follows:
+ In the World Heritage Area: is inhabited by the fishing communities, including the 4 communes of Cua Van, Cong Tau, Vong Vieng and Ba Hang with a total of over 1,600 people. This population belongs to Hung Thang Precinct of Halong City. They live on floating houses and boats and make their livelihood by fishing and aquaculture.

+ In the environs of the World Heritage Area: the residents of Halong City, Cam Pha Town, Van Don Island District and Cat Ba Island of Haiphong City.

The process of recognition of Halong Bay as a World Natural Heritage Area
The first time:
On  21st December, 1991, The Government of Vietnam permitted the setting up a of file on Ha Long Bay to be submitted to UNESCO for recognition of Ha Long Bay as a World Heritage Site. During the two year period 1991 to 1993, UNESCO nominated many expert delegations to come to Quang Ninh to survey, research, guide and review the ongoing file. Ha Long Bay?s file was completed and sent to UNESCO, Paris, for consideration in 1993, to be addressed at the 18th session.
On  17th December, 1994, the World Heritage Committee officially recognized Ha Long Bay as a World Natural Heritage Area at its 18th session in Phu Ket, Thailand, because of its universal aesthetic value according to criteria (iii) of the Convention.

The second time:
At the request of Ha Long Bay Management Department and IUCN, in September 1998, Prof. Tony Waltham, the top expert on Geology of Trent University, Nottingham, conducted a survey of the limestone karst of Ha Long Bay. He submitted his report to UNESCO Paris and Switzerland, IUCN Offices (Ha Noi) and to the Ha Long Bay Management Department. As a result, on 25th February, 1999, the World Heritage Center requested Quang Ninh People?s Committee, Vietnam?s National Commission for UNESCO and the Ha Long Bay Management Department to prepare a file to submit to UNESCO for the inscription of Ha Long Bay?s outstanding values of geology and geomorphology.
In July 1999, the file was completed and sent to the World Heritage Center?s Office in Paris. In December 1999, at the 23rd Congress of UNESCO held in Marakesh,  Morocco, UNESCO officially considered the file. In March 2000 Professor Ellery Hamilton Smith, a member of IUCN was delegated to come to Ha Long to check the validity of the file and its geological value and to evaluate the management situation and make recommendations. In July 2000, at its mid-year meeting, the World Heritage Center, Paris, officially proposed that the World Heritage Committee recognize Ha Long Bay as a World Natural Heritage Site for its universal values of geology and geomorphology.
On 2nd December, 2000, at the 24th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, the World Heritage Committee unanimously decided to recognize the universal geological value of Ha Long Bay for the second time according to criteria (i) of the International Convention on the Protection of the World National and Cultural Heritage

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