Home to hill tribes for centuries, ‘Da Lat’ means ‘river of the Lat tribe’ in their language. 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, and grand villas remain 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 (also in villas). On 3 April 1975 Dalat fell to the North without a fight.