It is also the most populated city, with half a million people from the Kinh and various ethnic minority groups, such as the E De, K’Ho, Co Tu, Xo Dang, and Gia Rai.
Under a plan to 2030 with a vision to 2045, Buon Ma Thuot, the capital of Dak Lak province, will become an urban center in the Central Highlands.
In the past decade, Buon Ma Thuot has received large investments to upgrade the Buon Ma Thuot airport, the trans-national Ho Chi Minh road, and the Central Highlands Regional General Hospital. The average annual economic growth rate of Buon Ma Thuot is 13%, higher than other localities in Vietnam.
The Tan An and Hoa Phu industrial parks are now the locomotives of Buon Ma Thuot, where 60 new urban areas with new schools and hospitals have sprung up.
Tu Thai Giang, Secretary of the Buon Ma Thuot municipal Party Committee, said, “The local economy and income per capita have increased steadily. Industrial activity has expanded. We have fulfilled all phase 1 criteria of the new rural development program. Tourism, finance, banking, and insurance services continue to grow.”
At the heart of the busy city, Ako Dhong village of the E De people is one of three villages piloting an ethnic culture promotion program. Tourism has helped Ako Dhong villagers improve their lives.
Village elder Ama Loan said, “We are trying to preserve our ethnic culture, which includes gongs and other musical instruments, and brocade weaving. We make bamboo musical instruments and grow coffee and peppers. The government has allocated funding for us to build paved roads, schools, and communal houses. Our lives have changed significantly.”
Dak Lak authorities have created a plan to capitalize on Buon Ma Thuot’s rich natural resources, diverse culture, and strategic location to make it a trading hub of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
Economic activities will be shifted toward the processing industry, green energy, services, and eco-tourism. Health care, education, tourism, and technology will be tied to regional standards.
New expressways will connect Buon Ma Thuot with Nha Trang (in Khanh Hoa province), Lien Khuong (in Lam Dong province), and Tuy Hoa (in Phu Yen province).
Bui Van Cuong, Secretary of the Dak Lak provincial Party Committee, said, “We have submitted our plan to the Prime Minister, asking for permission to hire foreign consultants and build expressways which will expand the national highway system. We are working on a medium-term public investment plan until 2025 and other coordinated measures to ensure Buon Ma Thuot’s central role in the Central Highlands.”