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Discover East Timor with Timothy Tye

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East TimorScenery in East Timor, with Seical River and Mount Matebian
photo source,_Baucau_30_Apr_2004.jpg
authorshipColin Trainor
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East Timor, also called Timor Leste in Portuguese, is a small country in Southeast Asia. It is located on the eastern half of the island of Timor, the enclave of Oecussi-Ambeno on the northwestern side in Indonesian West Timor, and the outlying islands of Atauro and Jaco. The small, young nation has much to offer visitors, although the tourist infrastructure is still rudimental. On the other hand the nature is very much unspoilt and the Portuguese influence very much intact.

Beach in Dili, East TimorBeach in Dili, East Timor
photo source
authorshipKok Leng Yeo
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The history of East Timor can be traced to Portuguese colonization in the 16th century. At that time until Portugal's decolonization, it was known as Portuguese Timor. In late 1975, East Timor declared its independence, but within the same year it was invaded and occupied by Indonesia and was declared Indonesia's 27th province the following year.

In 1999, following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory and East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002. East Timor is one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being the Philippines.

A cockfight in East TimorA cockfight in East Timor
photo source
authorshipTatoli Ba Kultura
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Today East Timor is a lower-middle-income country that continues to suffer the aftereffects of the decades-long independence struggle against Indonesia. The strife has damaged infrastructure and displaced thousands of its people. It is placed 158th by Human Development Index (HDI) among the world's states, the lowest in Asia.

East Timor derives its name from the word "Timor", which means "east" in Indonesian and Malay. As a result, East Timor is written in Indonesian as Timor Timur. The official names of the country, under the Constitution is República Democrática de Timor-Leste, which is Portuguese and is today used almost universally within the country. In the local Tetum language, it is known as Repúblika Demokrátika Timór Lorosa'e. However, this form is infrequently used.

East TimorEast Timor
photo source
authorshipGraham Crumb
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Following independence, the government requested the official name in all languages be Timor-Leste. However, it has not been popularly adopted within English-speaking countries worldwide, where "East Timor" continues to be used. The Indonesian name Timor Timur, abbreviated as Timtim, is now less widely used, with the Indonesian government and media now using Timor Leste.

East Timor is divided into thirteen administrative districts, which are subdivided into 65 subdistricts, 443 sucos and 2,336 towns, villages and hamlets.

Rock formations at Osolata Beach, East TimorRock formations at Osolata Beach, East Timor
photo source
authorshipKok Leng, Maurice Yeo
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Fast Facts about East Timor

  • Official Name: Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
  • Capital: Dili (56,900)
  • Population of East Timor: 1,040,900
  • Languages: Tetum (official), Portuguese (official), English, indigenous languages
  • Currency: US Dollar
  • Religions: Roman Catholic (90%), Islam, others
  • Size: 15,007 sq km (5,794 sq miles)
  • Region: Asia

When to visit East Timor

The dry season runs from May to November, and is the best time to go to East Timor. The wet season from December to May can indeed be very wet, so you should avoid it if ever possible.

What to wear in East Timor

Lightweight clothing is good enough any time of the year. Bring along your raincoat or umbrella too. For visiting the mountains, warmer clothes are in order.

Fishing boats in Dili, East TimorFishing boats in Dili, East Timor
photo source,_East_Timor_(313433243).jpg
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Getting into East Timor

Dili International Airport (DIL) has flights from Darwin, on AirNorth, and Bali, on Merpati Airlines. There is no fixed schedule, so you may need to check with the airlines for their flights.

East Timor Entry Requirements

Nationals of US, Australia, Canada, Britain and other EU countries need a visa to enter East Timor. This can be obtained upon arrival, and is good for 30 days. The visa costs US$35 for up to 30 days.

Cape Fatucama, DiliCape Fatucama, Dili
photo source,_Dili,_East_Timor_(314819835).jpg
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Getting around in East Timor

Mini buses are the way to go around. The fare is pretty decent - you can cover 100km for just US$2 to 3.

Things to see and do in East Timor

(These sights should only be visited once the political situation in East Timor improves).
  • Explore Dili. Among the sights include a Portuguese castle, the State Museum and several catholic churches. There is also a large statue of Christ on a hillock at Cape Fatucama.
  • At Fatsuba, visit the old garrison that overlooks the town of Pantemakassar
  • Visit the 17th-century fort at Maubara.
  • Other activities include snorkelling, diving, mountain biking and hiking, but these should all be postponed until the security situation in East Timor improves.

Fisherman in MaubaraA fisherman in Maubara
photo source,_East_Timor_(312832627).jpg
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Money matters in East Timor

US Dollars is the official currency in East Timor. Banknotes come in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 while coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, and $1.

Places of Interest in East Timor

  1. Dili
    Capital of East Timor.
  2. Aileu
    Picturesque region on the northwestern part of East Timor
  3. Baguia
    Town in the Baukau district, an unspoit region of East Timor.
  4. Baucau
    Second biggest town in East Timor.

Districts of East Timor

  1. Lautém
  2. Baucau
  3. Viqueque
  4. Manatuto
  5. Dili
  6. Aileu
  7. Manufahi
  8. Liquiçá
  9. Ermera
  10. Ainaro
  11. Bobonaro
  12. Cova-Lima
  13. Oecussi-Ambeno

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