Ha Giang Province, Northern Vietnam
Capital: Hà Giang
Area: 7,945.8 km² (3,067.9 sq mi)
Population: About 800.000
Density: 89/km² (230/sq mi)
Demographics: Vietnamese, Tày, Dao, H’Mông, Sán Dìu, Lô Lô
Calling code: 19
Hà Giang is a province in the Northeast region of Vietnam. It is located in the far north of the country, and contains Vietnam’s northernmost point. It shares a 270 km long border with Yunnan province of southern China, and thus is known as Vietnam’s final frontier. The province covers an area of 7945.8 square kilometres and as of 2008 it had a population of 705,100 people.
The provincial capital, also called Hà Giang, is connected by Highway 2 and is 320 km away from Hanoi. The border crossing is at Thanh Thuy, 25 km from the capital, Hà Giang town. It is one of the poorest provinces of Vietnam as it has mountainous topography with the least potential for agricultural development.
The province borders China with a length of over 270 kilometres (170 mi); the border gate is known as the Thanh Thuy. In addition, there are three smaller gates namely, the Phó Bang, the Xín Man and Săm Pun.
Hà Giang province borders Cao Bằng, Tuyên Quang, Lào Cai, and Yên Bái provinces and has common international border with China in the north. Hà Giang province has many high rocky mountains, limestone formations and springs; the important mountains are the Cam and Mo Neo. The major rivers of the region are the Lô River (Hà Giang town is located on its left bank) and Mien River.
The topography of Hà Giang province is fairly complex with “temperate, but highly localized montane weather patterns create variable conditions among different regions”. It has impressive limestone and granite peaks and outcrops. It has three regions. Climatically, it has two seasons, dry and monsoon, dependent on the altitude of the region. The two northern Indochinese climatic zones on the border influence the climate in that part of the province. The lower areas in the province comprise low hills, the Lô River Valley and the town of Hà Giang. In Cao Bo district, dry season lasts from mid-September until the end of May, and the balance period of the year is the rainy season. However, in Du Già district the wet season sets in one month earlier.
The average annual temperature in the provincial capital of Hà Giang is 22.78 °C (73.00 °F); the monthly averages range from a low of 15.48 °C (59.86 °F) in January to a high of 27.88 °C (82.18 °F) in July. The annual rainfall in Hà Giang town is 2,430.1 millimetres (95.67 in); the monthly average varies from a low of 31.5 millimetres (1.24 in) in December to a high of 515.6 millimetres (20.30 in) in July. The average annual humidity level is 84%.
Hà Giang has many mountains, including the two highest peaks, namely, the Tây Côn Linh (2419 m) and the Kieu Liêu Ti (2,402 metres (7,881 ft)) and forests that provide lumber. It has about 1000 species of herbal plants. Fauna include tigers, peafowl, pheasants, and pangolin. The town of Hà Giang was heavily damaged during the 1979 war with China. but has since been rebuilt.
Archaeological excavations carried out near Hà Giang town at Doi Thang (Pine Hill) have established the region’s antiquity to about 3000 years back. During the Bronze Age Tay Yu tribals (of the, with culturally rich traditions ruled over the region; Archaeological findings in the form of bronze drums of that age used for ceremonial purposes is traced even to its present use by the Lô Lô and Pu Peo tribes of the region (Mèo Vac, Hà Giang province).
What was later called Hà Giang Province by the French was part of bo Tân Hung in ancient times, one of 15 bo in the nation of Văn Lang. During the Ming Dynasty occupation of Vietnam, at the start of the 15th century, it was known as the district of Bình Nguyên, before being changed.
Vietnam – French war
to Bình Nguyên in 1473, and later renamed châu Vi Xuyên. The French occupied this region in 1886, establishing their military garrison on the east bank of the Lô River and which became later in 1905 one of the four major military establishments in French Indochina in North Vietnam. The Vietnamese Dao tribals rebelled against the French colonial rule first in 1901 led by Trieu Tien Kien and Trieu Tài Loc, which was quelled, and the former was killed in the war. However, in 1913, Trieu Tài Loc organized another rebellion with the help of Trieu Tien Tien, another member of his clan, which lasted for two years till 1915. Their slogan was “No Corvees, no taxes for the French; drive out the French to recover our country; liberty for the Dao.”
This revolt was known as the “White Hat Revolt” since the Vietnamese carried a white flag engraved with “four ideograms to Quoc Bách Ky” (meaning “White Flag of the Fatherland”). The rebellion spread to Tuan Quang, Lào Cai and Yên Bái. In 1915 the French ruthlessly suppressed the rebellion, deporting many Vietnamese and hanging at least 67″rebels”.
Before 1975, Hà Giang comprised the districts of Đong Văn, Vi Xuyên, Xín Man, Yên Minh, Hoàng Su Phì, Bac Quang, Thanh Thuy, and Quan Ba.
Hà Giang has one city (thành pho) Hà Giang and 10 districts (huyen): Bac Mê District, Bac Quang District, Đong Văn District, Hoàng Su Phì District, Mèo Vac District, Quan Ba District, Quang Bình District, Vi Xuyên District, Xín Man District and Yên Minh District, five precincts, nine towns under districts, and 181 communes.
According to the General Statistics Office of the Government of Vietnam, the population of Hà Giang Province as on 2008 was 705,100 with a density of 89 persons per sqkm over a total land area of 7,945.8 square kilometres (3,067.9 sq mi) of the province. It is one of the least populated provinces in the northern midlands and mountain areas of Vietnam. The male population during this period was 346,900 with females accounting for 358,200. The rural population was 625,500 against an urban population of 79,600 (about 12% of the rural population).
Many people in Hà Giang belong to various ethnic minorities. Aside from the Kinh who form 10% of the total population of the province, the others who dominate are 22 ethnic minorities, mainly the H’Mông, Tày, Dao, Nùng, and Lô Lô. There are two rare ethnic groups of Pupeo and Phula with population of less than 400 each and dwindling.
Languages spoken in Hà Giang province include the following.
Pa-Hng – Bac Quang, Quang Bình
Giáy – Yên Minh, Đong Văn
Red Gelao – Yên Minh
White Gelao – Đong Văn
Qabiao (Pupeo) – Đong Văn
Lachi – Hoàng Su Phì, Xín Man, Bac Quang
Red Lolo (Mantsi) – Mèo Vac, Yên Minh
Flowery Lolo – Mèo Vac, Đong Văn
White Lolo – Mèo Vac
Quan Ba Valley
Quan Ba Valley, located at 45 kilometres (28 mi) from Hà Biang, at 7,945.8 metres (26,069 ft) elevation, is called the “Heaven’s Gate” and has a TV transmitter on a summit. Uniformly shaped hills of the valley are viewed from this summit. Quan Ba Pass provides views of Thach Nu Doi (literal meaning: double stalagmite, but also known as “Two Stone Breasts” in the valley below.). The valley has forested hills and meadows, with temperatures ranging between 10 °C (50 °F) in winter and 24 °C (75 °F) in summer.
It is known for its secret grottoes and caves, colourful orchids, plum and peach trees, persimmon orchards, medicinal plants and many more. The town of Đong Văn is famous for its Phó Bang Street which features multistoried buildings built with clay bricks and tiled roofs. The weekly market is where the Tay and H’Mông ethnic groups of the province visit in large numbers to trade in various types of goods and colourful hand woven cloth.
Phuong Thien cave
Phuong Thien Cave is 7 km to the south of the township of Hà Giang. It is the location of many sights, especially natural caves and grottos of Doi, Lang Lô and Phuong Thien. The surrounding area is also known for its plums, pears, oranges, apples and Tuyet Son tea above 900 metres (3,000 ft). Chui Cave lies 7 km to the south of Hà Giang. It is set about 100 metres (330 ft) into the face of the hill. Tiên Cave và Tiên Spring: The cave is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Hà Giang town. Đong có Suoi Tiên rat đẹp. According to folklore, heavenly female beings came there to bathe in the lunar new year, thus its name. The local populace uses it as a water source and to pray for good luck in the new year.
Đong Văn is a market town 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Sà Phìn and 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Chinese border is inhabited by the Tày and H’Mông people. It is an altitude of 1,025 kilometres (637 mi) and experiences freezing temperature of 0 °C (32 °F) in winter and 24 °C (75 °F) in summer months. The highland region is famous for fruits such as Hau plums, peaches and persimmons without seeds. It has such medicinal plants as ginseng, cinnamon and anise.
Mèo Vac is a mountain pass at about 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) elevation which forms the basin boundary of the Nho Que River on the border with China is restricted zone. The market held at Khâu Vai which is about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Mèo Vac, is where once a year on the 27th day of the third month of the Lunar calendar is known famously as the Khâu Vai “Love Market”. The ethnic clans of White H’Mông, Tày, and Lô Lô congregate here, particularly the young people assemble here in search of life partners or to exchange partners. The Lô Lô people who dominate the local village by the same name in particular come here in their colourful regale.
Cho tình Khâu Vai
The Cho tình Khâu Vai market only meets once a year, on the 27th day of the third lunar month at Khâu Vai commune in Mèo Vac district, based on an old folk tale. A long time ago, there was a young beautiful couple who were in love but they were in different districts, which would have meant that she would have moved to her husband’s area. Her home district opposed this, while the boy’s district wanted this, causing political tension. When the couple was meeting, the two groups descended into warfare. To avoid bloodshed for their societies, the couple decided to break up and only secretly meet once a year on the anniversary, at Khâu Vai. Since then the area has become a dating spot for couples. In the last 10 years, economic pressures have led to a market being set up to capitalize on the anniversary celebrations.
Doi Thong (Pine Hill) settlement, is an ancient settlement dated back to 30,000 years, belonging to the Son Vi period as established by archaeological excavations. The excavations had unearthed antiquary axe heads and primitive tools which are displayed in the local museum at Hà Biang and the History Museum in Hanoi.
Hà Giang museum
Hà Giang museum, located in the centre of Hà Giang town, not only has an array of display of findings from archaeological excavations but also houses historical artefacts, bronze drum collection and also costumes of the local ethnic clans. Museum building is in form of a big lotus opening up its petals, in red and white colour mansion.
Hà Giang market
Hà Giang market isan important market centre in Hà Biang town on the east bank of the Lô River. Tày, Nùng, Red Dao and White H’Mông ethnic groups congregate every Sunday at the market.
Lang Si is a village at the Lang Si pass where the White Hmong tribes assemble at the market held once every six days. The village is 116 kilometres (72 mi) from Hà Biang and parts of the border wall built by the French army are seen here delimiting the border of the White H’Mông Kingdom. It is a honey producing area and has many apiaries.
Sà Phìn is a small town in the remote Sà Phìn valley (2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Chinese border) where H’Mông Kings ruled. The unique feature of the place is of the large double storied houses which are built in Chinese style made out of yellow bricks with Chinese style roof. The twin white towered palace building is distinct among the 20 odd buildings.
Khu nhà Dòng ho Vuong (Vuong family Palace)
The Vuong family mansion is an architectural heritage landmark in Sà Phìn commune, Đong Văn district that was listed by the government in 1993. At the start of the 20th century, Vuong Chính Đuc, a member of the Mong people, was appointed the Bang Tá and he had the family residence expanded into a mansion from where he worked. It is a of a style that is rare in this mountainous region of northern Vietnam. The building was designed in the style of the later period of the Qing Dynasty of China, and is grouped into three sections, the front, middle and rear.
It comprises six lengthwise and four sideways buildings, two levels, and 64 rooms and 1,120 metres (3,670 ft) of land space. The building is surrounded by a stone wall, of width between 0.6 kilometres (0.37 mi) and 0.9 metres (3.0 ft) and of height from 2.5–3 kilometres (1.6–1.9 mi). The mansion is 145 kilometres (90 mi) to the northwest of the town of Hà Giang and 24 kilometres (15 mi) to the southwest of the district of Đong Văn.
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