Vietnam: Ha Long Bay-Cat Ba Archipelago Recognized as World Heritage Site

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the new inscription of a Vietnamese site to the list at the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee. Ha Long Bay-Cat Ba Archipelago in Quang Ninh Province and neighboring Hai Phong City has been officially recognized as a world natural heritage site.

Cat Ba Archipelago in the northern port city of Hai Phong is the largest limestone archipelago of the country. It has more than 360 islands, including Cat Ba Island to the south of Ha Long Bay.

The archipelago had earlier been recognized by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve.

Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province has been named by UNESCO as a world heritage site twice: in 1994 and 2000.

According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ha Long Bay-Cat Ba archipelago cluster boasts a rich diversity of island and ocean ecosystems. It is home to various rare animals and plants and houses the country’s largest maritime forest covering an area of more than 17,000 hectares.

It is the habitat of 4,910 species of plants and animals on land and in the sea, of which 198 species are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species and 51 endemic species.

The primeval forest area of about 1,045.2 hectares on Cat Ba island is one of the important factors creating the ecological value and biodiversity of the heritage. In particular, the Cat Ba Langur is a rare species, on the list of animals at highest risk of extinction. Currently, there are about 60-70 individuals found only in Cat Ba.

In September 2016, the then Prime Minister allowed Hai Phang City to work with Quang Ninh Province to plan the nomination of Ha Long Bay-Cat Ba Archipelago as a world heritage site.

Ha Long Bay-Cat Ba Archipelago was added to the World Heritage List due to the beauty of its natural landscapes, including charming vegetation-covered limestone islands, breathtaking limestone islets, and impressive karst formations. Ambassador Le Thi Hong Van, head of the Permanent Mission of Vietam to UNESCO, said that the recognition affirms international appreciation for the beauty of the heritage and Vietnam’s efforts to protect it. This is also another contribution of Vietnam to the heritage value preservation and promotion goal that UNESCO is promoting.

Van said that Vietnam’s world heritage sites recognized by UNESCO have been making an important contribution to local socio-economic development, as well as to environmental protection, green and sustainable growth, thereby promoting the culture, land and people of Vietnam to the world as well as enriching humanity’s cultural treasure.