Halong Bay History
Halong is a small bay at the western coast section of Bac Bo Gulf, in the northeastern sea region of Viet Nam. It includes the sea areas and islands of Halong city, Cam Pha town and a part of Van Don island district. Its name have changed over historical periods. The present name of Halong Bay ( Landing Dragon Bay ) appeared in bibliographies and in some French maritime maps only from the late 19th century. Bai Tu Long Bay lies adjacent to the northest part of Halong Bay. Cat Ba islands are next to the southwest part of Halong Bay.
The area of Halong Bay is about 1,500 km2 , including about 2,000 small and large islands, most of which are made of limestone. The core area of the bay covers 334 km2 where 775 islands are clustered. The tectonic movement in the bay, in which limestone was formed, occurred about 500 million years ago under different geographical circumstances. The full tectonic evolution of the karst terrain of Halong Bay took over 20 million years. In this evolution thick limestone was decomposed under hot and humid climate and the terrain was slowly raised. Halong Bay is the center of a larger area with similar elements of geology, geomorphology, landscape, climate and culture.
At the present people live on about 40 of the nearly 2,000 islands of Halong Bay. These islands have areas from tens to thousands of hectares and they are mainly located in the east and southeast of Halong Bay. In recent decades, many floating fishing villages have started to settle on the virgin islands and turned them into fertile islands, for example Sa To island (Halong city) and Victory island (Van Dong island district).
The heritage area (core area) of Halong Bay, which was officially recognized by the world community, has an area of 434 km2. It is similar to a triangle with the three vertices of Dau Go island in the west, Ba Ham lake in the south, and Cong Tay island in the east. The heritage area includes 775 islands with a great number of caves and beaches. The adjacent area (buffer area) is a national heritage recognised by the Ministry of Culture and Information of Viet Nam.
The terrain of Ha Long is composed of mountains with abrupt cliffs and islands alternating between ocean basins. The soil is saline and has mangrove forest. Rock, water and the sky are the lively elements making up the beauty of Ha Long. Islands in Halong Bay have their own shapes absolutely different from that of other coastal areas of Viet Nam. But they are also not similar to each other. There are places where islands are so much clustered that they seem to be piled up if looked at from a far distance. But there are also places where many islands stand in horizontal or vertical rows like ramparts. These island rows are as long as tens of kilometers and cross each other. It seems that all islands make a mythical realm of rocks. One island is like a human face turning towards the mainland ( Man Head Island), while another resembles a dragon flying above water (Dragon Island) . La Vong island looks like and old fisherman and at a distance from him is Sails Island with two parts like two sails. Mam Xoi Island is a small island similar to a tray of steamed glutinous rice. Rooster and Hen Island reminds one of a cock and a hen lovingly playing on the waves. Lu Huong island ( Incense Burner Island) stands on a vast sea like a giant incense burner. Ong Su Island (Monk Island) is like a monk standing in the middle of the immense bay, who clasps hands to worship the Buddha. Chopstick Island is a round island of 40 meters in height and looks like a great chopstick. But viewed from another direction, it is like a royal mandarin with a blue costume and a "dragonfly" hat, so fishermen called this island Royal Mandarin Island, and so forth.