The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has ranked Cat Ba archipelago in the northern port city of Hai Phong to national heritage status.

The elevation comes as Hai Phong prepares to host next year's National Tourism Year on the theme of Song Hong ( Red River ) Delta.

It will also help the city's plans to submit Cat Ba to UNESCO for recognition as a world natural heritage.

The archipelago has more than 300 islands, of which Cat Ba is the largest. Limestone mountains rise out of the water in many parts of the area.

The area is home to more than 700 species of flaura and fauna, including rare trees and endangered animals. Its forests remain largely untouched.-VNA