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Tây Nguyên, translated as Western Highlands and sometimes also called Central Highlands, is one of the regions of Vietnam. It contains the provinces of Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Lâm Đồng.
This region is sometimes referred to as Cao nguyên Trung bộ (literally "Midland Highlands"), and was referred to during the Republic of Vietnam as Cao nguyên Trung phần (literally "Central Highlands").
The Tay Nguyen region is home to a large population of ethnic minorities such as the people of Malayo-Polynesian languages (Jarai and Ede) and the people of Mon-Khmer languages (Bahnar and K'hor). They have made up the majority of the region's population for a long time. However, this changed over the last few decades due to immigration of Kinh people (ethnic Vietnamese). As of 2006, there was a Kinh majority in the Central Highlands, while there were still several districts that had a non-Kinh majority (most of them in Gia Lai Province).
The Central Highlands had a population of 4,935,200 people in 2007. As a result of resettlement campaigns of various governments (colonial, South Vietnam, post-war), the region's population has increased significantly. It was 420,000 in 1926, but had reached 2.8 million in 1991:200 and 4.2 million in 2000. Population growth between 2000 and 2007 averaged 2.24% per year, which is significantly higher than that of other regions, such as the South Central Coast (1.22%) and North Central Coast (0.86%). Growth has been particularly fast in Dak Nong Province with 4.76%, followed by Kon Tum Province with 2.64%.
The Central Highlands' population density is 72.2/km² as of 2007, higher than that of the South Central Coast (68.4), but lower than that of the North Central Coast (86.1). The most densely populated provinces are Dak Lak and Lam Dong, while Kon Tum is the least densely populated.
Tây Nguyên is a plateau، bordering the lower part of Laos and northeastern Cambodia. Kon Tum Province shares a border with both Laos and Cambodia but Gia Lai Province and Dak Lak Province only share borders with Cambodia. Lam Dong Province is landlocked, and thus has no international border with any other nation.
Actually, Tay Nguyen is not situated on a unique plateau, instead it lies on series of contiguous plateaus, namely Kon Tum at the height of 500 m, Kon Plông Plateau, Kon Hà Nừng Plateau, Pleiku with the height of around 800m, Mdrak Plateau of approximately 500 m, Đắk Lắk of around 800m, Mơ Nông with the height of about 800–1000 m, Lâm Viên Plateau of approximately 1500 m and Di Linh Plateau of about 900–1000 m. All of these plateau are surrounded by the high mountain ranges and mounts (South Anamite Range).
Tây Nguyên can be divided into 3 subregions according to its deviation in topography and climate, namely: North Tay Nguyen (Bắc Tây Nguyên) (inclusive of Kon Tum and Gia Lai Provinces), Middle Tay Nguyen (Trung Tây Nguyên) (covering provinces of Đắk Lắk and Đắk Nông), South Tay Nguyen (Nam Tây Nguyên) (Lâm Đồng). Trung Tây Nguyên has lower altitude and therefore has a higher temperature from other two subregions.
Tay Nguyen contains in it many primitive forests and is protected in its national parks, such as Cat Tien National Park, Yok Don National Park, Kon Ka Kinh National Park. The region has an average altitude of 500–600 m with basalt soil, suitable for planting coffee tree, cacao, pepper, and white mulberry. Cashew and rubber plants are also planted here. Coffee is the most important product of Tay Nguyen, with production centred in Dak Lak Province. The provincial capital of Buon Ma Thuot hosts a number of major coffee factories, including ones owned by major producer Trung Nguyen. Tay Nguyen is also the third natural bauxite source in the world. Plans for bauxite mining in the area have met with some controversy, both because of the environmental impact of the proposed operations, and because of labour issues.
Flora and fauna
Tay nguyen is the home to most prominent and also most endangered species of Vietnam and Southeast Asia: the Indochinese tiger, the huge gaur, the Wild Asian Water Buffalo, the banteng, and the Asian elephant.
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