For hundreds of years, Halong Bay has been an important part of the culture and history of Vietnam. Though it only contains a coastline of 120 kilometers, the area has been a big part of life in northern Vietnam. Halong Bay, also known as Vinh Ha Long, means "Bay of the Descending Dragon". There are approximately 1,969 small islands in the bay, all comprised of different size and form. These islands have intrigued and amazed locals for hundreds of years. There are over 200 species of fish and over 450 species of mollusks in the waters around the bay. These waters now help sustain a community of fisherman, many of them living on floating junks in the water. These communities are close knit and extremely important to the success of the area. This area has also sustained naval wars for hundreds of years. At least three times in history this bay has helped stop the Chinese navy from invading northern Vietnam. This bay was also mined by the United States Navy during the Vietnam war. Many of the mines are still unexploded in the bay, which poses a threat to local fishermen. The area first became popular for tourists in the 19th Century, when French visitors explored the area. It now serves as the most popular tourist attraction and resort community in Vietnam.