The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has announced the 10 most outstanding cultural, sports and tourism events in 2011.

1. The Ho Dynasty Citadel, a national heritage site of Việtnam in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, was recognised by UNESCO as world cultural heritage.

Built of stone in 1397, with four gates facing north, south, east, and west, it is of great cultural and historical value.

The citadel's huge square stone stabs overlap each other without glue or attaching materials and have stood firmly for more than 600 years.

2. Xoan singing (folk songs used in spring ceremonies to worship a village tutelary gods) of the northern province of Phu Tho was recognised by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent protection.

3. Traditional costumes of 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam were put on show for the first time in Hanoi.

As many as 255 models from 54 ethnic groups nationwide highlighted the diversified beauty of traditional costumes at the first traditional costumes show. It was discovered that about five ethnic groups had lost their traditional costumes and work is under way to restore them.

4. The Hanoi Opera House celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Construction of the Opera House started in 1901 and was completed 10 years later. Since then, the building has helped beautify the capital city and has been the venue for many historic events of both Hanoi and Vietnam.

It has also contributed considerably to the country’s international integration process by hosting many art programmes and friendship meetings between Việtnam and other countries.

5. The first International Tea Festival was held in the northern province of Thai Nguyên.

This was the first time an event honouring tea products and Vietnamese tea culture was held with the participation of international delegations.

The festival was an opportunity for Việtnam to learn about tea production in different countries and to show Vietnam's tea industry, especially in the Thai Nguyen area.

6. Vietnamese athletes at the SEA Games took 96 gold, 92 silver and 100 bronze medals, bringing Việtnam to the third place after the host nation, Indonesia and Thailand.

7. Athlete of the year, Phan Thi Ha Thanh, made history for Việtnam by becoming the first ever athlete to qualify for the London Olympics through an official tournament.

Thanh, 20, won a bronze medal in the vault at the World Artistic Gymnastics Competition and three gold medals for Vietnam at the Southeast Asian Games 26.

8. Swimmer Hoang Quy Phuoc won two gold medals and set a new SEA Games record in the men's 100m butterfly, exceeding the B standard for the Olympics.

9. Ha Long Bay was listed as one of seven new natural wonders of the world, according to a NewOpenWorld poll.

In 1994 and 2000 the site was recognised by UNESCO as World Natural Heritage for its landscape and geographical value. It features thousands of limestone karsts and islands in various shapes and sizes.

10. Vietnam tourism sector welcomed the six-millionth international visitor, Curvalle Barnard Francois from France.

The number of foreign tourists to Vietnam reflects the efforts of the national tourism sector in strengthening quality management and promoting and diversifying Vietnamese tourism products./.