Pleiku is a town with a large ethnic population. It sits at the junction of roads leading to Kon Tum, Buon Ma Thuot and Quy Nhon. Totally, this town was almost destroyed during the Vietnam War as it was the home of an American base. If you expect to be here during the monsoon season, you should know that Pleiku boasts the highest rainfall in the Central Highlands.
Pleiku is the city of Gia Lai Province in the highlands of Viet Nam. It situated on the line of National highway 14 and 19 that connected the North and South of Viet Nam and at the 300 – 500m above the sea level. The three big cities of the highlands, which are very popular, are Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku and Kon Tum, from South to North.
According to the statistic, there is 28 Ethnic minorities in Pleiku and Viet people occupied around 87,5%. The rest is others and most of them is Gia Rai and Banah. Pleiku is relevant for growing industrial trees such as rubber tree, coffee trees, and pepper trees. Different with Buon Ma Thuot and Kontum, Pleiku’s climate is cool year around.
In February 1965 the Vietnamese troops shelled a US compound in Pleiku, killing eight Americans. Although the USA already had more than 23.000 military advisers in Vietnam, their role was supposed to be non-combative at the time. The attack on Pleiku was used as a justification by US President Johnson to begin a relentless bombing campaign against North Vietnam and the rapid build-up of US troops.
When US troops departed in 1973 the South Vietnamese kept Pleiku as their main combat base in the area. When these troops fled the advancing Vietnamese troops, the whole civilian population of Pleiku and nearby Kon Tum fled with them. The stampede to the coastline involved over 100, 000 people and tens of thousands died along the way.
The departing soldiers torched Pleiku, but the city was rebuilt in the 1980s with assistance from the Soviet Union. As a result, it lacks much of the color and antiquity you find elsewhere in Vietnamese towns.