Con Dao Island, Vietnam
The Con Dao island is part of an archipelago comprised of 14 islets. It is famous for a brutal prison, which over the years incarcerated over 22,000 people opposed to French colonialism and, later, the Saigon regime.
Situated in the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, it is 230 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh city and 180 kilometres off the south east coast of Vietnam. Con Dao was awarded protected status in 1984 and made a national park in 1993.
The total protected area of the park is 20,000 hectares including 14,000 hectares of sea and 6,000 hectares of forests on the 14 islets. There is also a buffer zone that is 20,500 hectares wide.
The area is home to various rare and enchanting species, including the dugong, sea turtle and the dolphin. In addition, the islands have large and diverse coral reefs, and rare varieties of orchids found nowhere else in Vietnam.
The islands remain largely undisturbed and encompass beauties of striking contrast: dense tropical forests, luminous green paddies, prominent mountain peaks and deep valleys.