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Phan Rang Local Area
The city of Phan Rang is located 3 miles inland from the South China Sea and 35 miles south of Cam Ranh Bay. It is the Provincial Capital of Ninh Thuan Province, which lies on the southern end of Central Vietnam and occupies a geographical position as a central transportation point adjoining three regions; Southern Central Highlands, South Central and South-East. It borders Cam Ranh Bay and three other provinces, Khanh Hoa (Nha Trang), Tuyen Duc (Da Lat), and Binh Thuan (Phan Thiet). It is the residence of a large number of ethnic Cham, along with the Ra Glai and Hoa peoples. Ninh Thuan Province is the driest and hottest region of Vietnam. The climate is a combination of the tropical monsoon and dry and windy weather. The coastal plain is semi-arid with Prickly Pear Cactus vegetation. The average temperature is 27 degree C (80.6 degree F). The natural area of the province is 3,430 sq. kilometers (1,325 sq. miles) and hosts a population of over 483 thousand people. The province’s topography forms three zones – plain, coastal and mountainous.

Permission for use of Phan Rang area map courtesy of Jim Henthorn, USAF, 21st SOS

Phan Rang (originally "Panduranga" from the Cham language) and its twin city of Thap Cham mark the site of the Po Klong Garai Towers, constructed at the end of the 13th century by the Cham as Hindu temples. This ancient temple is located on a rocky hill between Thap Cham and Phan Rang Air Base.

The ancient Kingdom of Champa and the Cham civilization offers a startling contrast to many of Vietnam’s Chinese conventions. The Cham derived their cultural influences from India and were almost exclusively Hindu. The Cham existed from the second to the sixteenth century throughout the central highlands of Vietnam. Although this is a considerable portion of Vietnam, the severity of weather and limited area for agriculture limited the size of the population to about 2.5 million people at its height. The Kingdom of Champa back in the 8th and 12th century stretched all the way from Dong Hoi to Phan Thiet in central Vietnam. Most were didicated to kings and Brahman divinities, including the Shiva God, who was considered the creator, founder and defender of the Champa Kingdom and the Cham royal dynasties.

Much of the above information was obtained from research conducted by J.C. Sharma in his text "Temples of Champa in Vietnam".

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