People in the central highland of Kon Tum Province gathered with soldiers in the village along the No19 Road after the province was liberated in March, 1975. — VNS File Photo
KON TUM — March 16th, 1975, was a day that will never be forgotten in Kom Tum Town.
This was the day the very last American troops in the North Central Highlands were defeated.
The victory was crucial for the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) Campaign, codenamed A275.
Launched by the Việt Nam’s Central Military Commission in 1975, the campaign liberated the entire Central Highlands, including Kon Tum, Pleiku, Phú Bổn, Đắk Lắk and a section of Quảng Đức Province. It was the curtain-raiser of the 1975 Spring General Offensive and Uprising that led to southern Việt Nam’s liberation and the country’s reunification.
After the Geneva Agreement on restoring peace in Việt Nam was signed in 1954, the country was divided into two regions. The north was liberated and entered a period of socialism-building, while the south fought against the US imperialists.
In early 1975, the resistance war against the US had turned into a drastic phase. The US planned to withdraw its troops from southern Việt Nam and further fund South Việt Nam’s armed forces as a way of preparing the southern Vietnamese to defend themselves against the north. The policy failed.
The Politburo, together with Việt Nam’s Central Military Commission, set out a plan to liberate the south between 1975-1976. Buôn Ma Thuột Town was chosen as the principal target of the campaign and determined as the key battlefield for the entire operation.
Kon Tum was tasked to conduct a diversionary strategy in order to attract the attention of enemy in the province instead of Buôn Ma Thuột Town.
The provincial Party Committee, the army and people coordinated with local commando forces to continuously attack the American troops. Our forces maintained the siege of Kon Tum Town and conducted raid after raid on the enemy forces.
The US believed our forces would launch an attack in the North Central Highlands starting from Kon Tum. It mobilised the majority of their forces from the whole region back to the province.
On March 4, the first gunfire of the Central Highland could be heard.
Within 31 days of nights battling, our forces liberated five provinces of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Đắk Lắk, Phú Bổn, Quảng Đức.
On March 16, Kon Tum Province’s army and people managed to occupy key military areas and wipe out the last of the American troops in the North Central Highland.
Ngọc Linh ginseng is popular for its high value of the precious herbal plant. — VNA/VNS Photo
Key economic region
Now, some 45 years later, the province has a far different target in its sights. Now they are aiming to be the key economic region of the Central Highlands.
Located at the crossroads of Indochina, Kon Tum holds a particularly important geographical advantage for socio-economic development. After 45 years of liberation, the province has gained great achievements in many fields.
In terms of economy, in 2019, growth made an important breakthrough increasing 9.96 per cent compared to 2018. State budget revenues reached an impressive figure of VNĐ3.1 trillion ($132 million).
The per capita yearly income increased from VNĐ37.35 million ($1,600) in 2018 to VNĐ41.28 million ($1,760) in 2019. The percentage of poor households dropped by 3.55 per cent compared to the previous year.
Industrial production gained well with the total value of the whole industry in 2019 estimated at VNĐ6.3 trillion ($269 million).
The province managed to attract 57 new projects with total registered investment capital of VNĐ5.04 trillion ($215 million).
In the agricultural sector, a number of hi-tech projects were invested in Kon Tum City. Of those, the potential and strengths of medicinal materials continued to be effectively exploited.
The province has pioneered researching and successfully preserving the original genetic source of Ngọc Linh ginseng. It has expanded the growing area of the ginseng to 5,660 hectares.
The province also focused on tourism development. It has become a tourist destination with well-known routes such as the Central Highlands Green Route tour, the Indochina Heritage cruise, and the Carnival tour.
The province is striving to become a dynamic economic region in the Central Highlands by 2035. — VNS