This area has been home to various Montagnard (hill tribe) groups for centuries. In the local Lat language, ‘Da Lat’ means ‘River of the Lat Tribe’.
The first European to ‘discover’ Dalat was Dr Alexandre Yersin in 1893. The city was established in 1912 and quickly became fashionable with Europeans. At one point during the French colonial period, some 20% of Dalat’s population was foreign, as evidenced by the 2500-odd chateau-style villas scattered around the city.
During the American War, Dalat was spared by the tacit agreement of all parties concerned. Indeed, it seems that while South Vietnamese soldiers were being trained at the city’s military academy and affluent officials of the Saigon regime were relaxing in their villas, Viet Cong cadres were doing the same thing not far away in their villas. Dalat fell to North Vietnamese forces without a fight on 3 April 1975. There is no problem with leftover mines and ordnance in the area.