Vũng Tàu About this sound pronunciation is a city in southern Vietnam. Its population in 2005 was 240,000. The city area is 140 km² (54 square miles) including 13 urban wards and one village. It is the capital of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, and is the crude oil extraction center of Vietnam. It is also known as one of the most beautiful cities of tourism in Vietnam. Locating near Ho Chi Minh city and Binh Duong province, Vungtau associates with these two places to create a triangle of power economy all over the country.
During 14th and 15th centuries, the cape that would become Vũng Tàu was a swamp which European trading ships visited regularly. The ships' activities inspired the name Vũng Tàu, which means "anchorage". The Portuguese navigators passed Vũng Tàu many times and named it after Saint Jacques[disambiguation needed]. The French invaded Vietnam afterwards and called it Cape Saint Jacques. The cliff of Vũng Tàu is now called Mũi Nghinh Phong (literally meaning "Cape of breeze welcome").
Vũng Tàu was originally referred to as Tam Thắng ("Three Boats") in memory of the first three villages in this area: Thắng Nhất, Thắng Nhị, Thắng Tam. It was within the province of Biên Hòa under the Nguyễn Dynasty. Under the reign of king Gia Long (1761–1820), when Malay pirates built a base here and subsequently became a danger to traders in Gia Dinh city, the king sent 3 troupes of army to crack down on the pirates. The pirates were ousted and soldiers of these troupes were given the land as a reward.
10 February 1859 marked the first use of cannons by Nguyễn's army, when they fired at French battleships from the fortress of Phước Thắng, located 100m from Vũng Tàu's Front Beach. This marked an important period in Vietnam's war against French invaders in South Vietnam (then called Cochinchina).
In 1876, according to a decree by the French colonialists, Vũng Tàu was merged in Ba Ria county, under Saigon's administration (French: circonscription de Saigon).
On May the 1st 1895 the governor of Cochinchina established by decree that Cape Saint Jacques would thereafter be an autonomous town. In 1898, Cape Saint Jacques was merged with Ba Ria County once again but was divided again in 1899.
In 1901, the population of Vũng Tàu was 5,690, of which 2,000 persons were immigrants from North Vietnam. Most of the town's population made their living in the fishing industry.
On April 4, 1905 Cape Saint Jacques was made an administrative district of Ba Ria province. In 1929, Cape Saint Jacques became a province, and in 1934 became a city (commune).
The French governor of Indochina, Paul Doumer (who later became President of France), built a mansion in Vũng Tàu that is still a prominent landmark in the city.
During the Vietnam War, Vũng Tàu was home to the Australian Army and American support units, and was a popular spot for in-country R&R for U.S. combat troops. After the war, Vũng Tàu was a common launching place for the Vietnamese Boat People fleeing the communists.
On May 30, 1979, Vũng Tàu town was made the capital of Vũng Tàu-Côn Đảo Special Administrative Zone.
On August 12, 1991, the province of Ba Ria-Vũng Tàu was officially founded and Vũng Tàu town officially became Vũng Tàu city.
Shipping and oil exploration
The city is located in the south of Vietnam, situated at the tip of a small peninsula. It has traditionally been a significant port, particularly during Vietnam's period of French rule. Today, the city's importance as a shipping port has diminished, but it still plays a significant role in Vietnam's offshore oil industry. Vũng Tàu is the only petroleum base of Vietnam where crude oil and natural gas exploitation activities dominate the city's economy and contribute principal income to Vietnam's budget and export volume.
Vũng Tàu shipyard's reconstruction is scheduled to be completed in 2008, supplied with up-to-date anchor handling supply vessels of Aker.
To most tourists, however, Vũng Tàu is more interesting for its extensive beaches. Tourists often prefer swimming at Back Beach (Bãi Sau) but sightseeing in Front Beach (Bãi Trước). Back Beach is well-known for its over 10 km of fine sand. As Vũng Tàu is only 130 km away from Ho Chi Minh City, it is a favourite resort destination for those wishing to get away from the city. In recent times, the number of foreign tourists visiting Vũng Tàu's beaches increased.. Vũng Tàu also allows access to nearby less visited beaches like Long Hai, Ho Tram and Ho Coc.
Vũng Tàu is also home to one of Vietnam's most well-known golf courses located at Paradise Vũng Tàu Golf Resort.
Resorts and theme parks
A big resort project has just been licensed by the Vietnamese government, the Saigon Atlantis. Upon competition, this entertainment project worth US$300 million in capital investment will include resorts, shopping, sailing. The investor of this project is proposing to raise the investment capital to US$4 billion.
Two other noteworthy entertainment projects awaiting licensing are Vũng Tàu Aquarium, which will cost USD 250 million, and Bau Trung, a Disneyland-like entertainment park which will cost US$250 million. This project includes Landmark Tower, a 88-story skyscraper proposed to be built and completed by 2010 in Vũng Tàu by a USA-based company, Good Choice Import – Export Investment Inc, once built will likely be the highest building in Vietnam. The project is under consideration for approval by the local provincial government.
Cuisine here is characterized by fresh seafood (lobster, crab, fish) and traditional Southern Vietnamese foods.
Holidays and festivals
In Vũng Tàu, one of the most widely celebrated holidays is Lễ hội Cá Ong (Whale Holiday). Festivals in the region include the Kite Festival and World Food Festival Culture Australian tourists come to Vũng Tàu in August to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
Vũng Tàu is also of interest for religious reasons. Like mostly provinces and cities in Vietnam, Buddhism is the predominant religion. Mahayana Buddhism, the dominant form of the religion in Vietnam, was brought to Ba Ria-Vũng Tàu by the Vietnamese settlers from the north at the beginning of the 17th century during the expansion of the Nguyễn Lords. When they came bringing their original religion they built many Buddhist pagodas, temples and statues in the city. The Thich Ca Phat Dai and Niet Ban Tinh Xa temple, both Buddhist sites, are significant and draw pilgrims from around the country. Before the area was settled by ethnic Vietnamese, the Khmer people practiced Theravada Buddhism.
It has about 14 Catholic wards with active services. A notable monument in the city is Christ of Vung Tau, a large statue of Christ on a hilltop built by Vietnam's Catholic minority. It was completed in 1974, with the height of 32 m and two outstretched arms spanning 18.4 m. It is considered to be among the tallest statues of Christ in Asia.
There has been a Russian village in Vũng Tàu ever since the Soviet era; these Russians generally worked for the Russian-Vietnamese joint venture VietSovpetro. It is believed that these "Russians", or "citizens of the former Soviet Union", were once the most dominant group of foreigners in Vũng Tàu. Some have remained in Vũng Tàu after the fall of the Soviet Union. They formed a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church.