Kevin German for The New York Times
If not for the Communist slogans being piped out of the town’s loudspeakers, it would have been hard to believe this was Vietnam. Where, after all, were the motorbikes, the honking horns, the shiny high-rises, and the constant activity that has come to characterize this rapidly developing country?
Until recently, the isolated 16-island archipelago of Con Dao (its largest island, Con Son, is commonly called Con Dao Island), 110 miles off the mainland’s southeastern coast, was a place most Vietnamese wanted to forget. For 113 years, this island was home to one of the country’s harshest prison systems, established by French colonists in 1862 and later ruled by South Vietnamese and American forces until Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese in 1975, at which point the prisons were closed. Read entire article>>