Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes. Ha Long (meaning "descending dragon") Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast, and Cat Ba Island to the southwest. These larger zones share a similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.
Ha Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets. 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. The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. Ha Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.
In 1962, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of North Vietnam listed Ha Long Bay in the National Relics and Landscapes publication. In 1994, the core zone of Ha Long Bay was listed as a World Heritage Site.
The bay consists of a dense cluster of some 1,600 limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. 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), Khi Islet (monkey), and Mai Nha Islet (roof). 989 of the islands have been given names. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Dau Go (Wooden stakes cave) is the largest grotto in the Ha Long area. There are two bigger islands, Tuan Chau and Cat Ba, that have permanent inhabitants.
A community of around 1,600 people live on Ha Long Bay in four fishing villages. They live on floating houses and are sustained through fishing and marine aquaculture (cultivating marine biota), plying the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks.