C. Islands of the Southwest
Long Sdn Island
Long Son Island commune consists of one principal island and lots of nearby small islands located in Vung Tau city of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province. It is the single island commune managed by a city in the whole country. It lies just east of the Dinh River. To the south, it borders Tan Hai commune of Tan Thanh district. To the north and west, it borders the sea. The area is 92km2, 54 km2 of which is continental land and the rest is mangrove land.
The principal island is located on a slope of Nua Mountain, which is situated in the terminal coastal section of the Phuoc Hoa mountain range. In the commune there are 11 hamlets. By 2003, 57 km2 of the 92 km2 of Long Son had been put to use. There were 13,558 people in the commune by that year. Long Son commune is surrounded by rivers and the sea and is cut by numerous channels.
Nha Lon vestige (Great House vestige) on Long Son is very famous. It is a vestige of culture, history and ancient architecture. Special ancient customs and habits are still preserved here. In the eyes of the local people, Nha Lon is a refined architectural complex. Its majestic beauty much attracts visitors. Nha Lon is also known as Ong Tran Temple. It is a place where followers of the Ong Tran creed carry out cultural and religious activities. Really, Nha Lon is a complex of closed architectural projects, for example the row of fashionable urban houses, a market, long pavilions, a lamp plant, etc. The Ong Tran creed is famous not only for architectural structures, but also for special rituals mixing elements of Buddhism, Protestantism, Confucianism and the ancestral worship belief.
Ong Tran creed has no scriptures and objects of ritual performance like bells, gongs, taboos, etc. It does not practice fasting, either. There are only the Ong Tran teachings passed down over generations.
Long Son has a special kind of oyster much beloved by tourists who like food. The Dinh River surrounds Long Son Island commune. Sequential oyster-raising rafts float by for ten kilometers on this river. In the past several years oyster production, shrimp raising and salt production have yielded large incomes, contributing to enhancing the living standards of the people. Tourist zones have also been established to promote the economic potential and advantages of the island. During tourist ecological tours or tourist historical tours people may also enjoy culinary delights. Along with economic development, the people’s heath, culture and education are enhanced too.
Con Dao Island
Con Dao is an archipelago in the sea of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, 97 nautical miles from Vung Tau and 45 nautical miles from the Hau River. The titles “Con Dao” or “Con Son” are actually the names of the largest island of this archipelago. In Vietnamese historical books before the 20th century Con Son is called Con Lon. In 1977 the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam decided to make Con Dao the official title. Con Dao is an administrative unit of the district level of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.
In Con Dao zone there are 16 small and large islands with a total area of 76 km2, including the islands of Con Dao, Hon Con Lon Nho, Hon Bay Canh, Hon Cau, Hon Bong Lan, Hon Vung, Hon Ngoc, Hon Trung, Hon Tai Lon, Hon Tai Nho, Hon Trac Lon, Hon Trac Nho, Hon Tre Lon, Hon Tre Nho, Hon Anh and Hon Em.
Westerners knew Con Dao since very early times because of its place on the navigation route between Asia and Europe. In 1292 the Italian fleet of Marco Polo was hit by a typhoon on the way home from China. Eight boats sank and the rest called at Con Dao to find shelter. From the 15th to 16lh centuries many groups of European travelers visited Con Dao. In the late 17th and early 18lh centuries English and French capitalists began to pay attention to the Oriental countries. Many times English and French companies sent persons to investigate Con Dao with the intention to occupy it.
In 1702 (the 12lh year of Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu’s reign) the English East India Company put soldiers ashore on Con Dao to build a fort and a flagpole. Three years later, on 3 February 1705, the rebellion of Malayan macassars (mercenaries of the English authority) occurred and the English troops had to leave Con Dao. In 1783, Pigneau de Behaine (Ba Da Loc) accompanied Prince Canh on a trip to France, taking with themselves the royal seal of the Nguyen dynasty as a pledge. Pigneau de Behaine acted himself in this trip as a representative of Lord Nguyen Anh. On 28 November 1783 he signed the Versailles Treaty with Earl De Mantmarin- -the representative of Louis XVI of France. This was the first document of the Nguyen dynasty assigning sovereignty over the Da Nang estuary and Con Lon archipelago to the French. In compensation, the French authority gave Nguyen Anh four warships, 1200 soldiers, 200 gunners and 250 African soldiers to resist the Tay Son dynasty. It is said that in the third stage of resistance, when Nguyen Anh was chased by the Tay Son dynasty, he fled to Con Lon and lived there in seclusion for some months. So now in Con Lon there are vestiges related to the Nguyln royal dynasty, for example a high mountain called the Lord Mountain, the Hoang Phi Yen Temple in An Hai village and the Prince Cai Shrine in Co Ong village.

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