Dili, East Timor
Timor is a large, curved island tucked among the Lesser Sunda Islands in the Sunda Sea. The island is divided, as it has been for centuries, with the western half a province of Indonesia and the eastern side an independent nation of Timor-Leste. In the past, these segments were colonies of the Dutch (West) and Portuguese (East). After gaining its independence from Portugal, East Timor was invaded by Indonesia, and descended into 25 years of resistance and war to gain its present state. There are 11 distinct local languages spoken by various ethnic groups on the island. The official languages of East Timor are Tetum and Portuguese. The city’s old colonial section is located near the waterfront, and contains some impressive Portuguese-style buildings including the old Market Hall, now used as a Congressional Centre. Points of interest for visitors include a very good Resistance Museum tracing the struggles of the Falintil insurgents, as well as some examples of indigenous crafts such as textiles, woven mats and pottery. Outside of town, on the Cape Fatucama headland, is a large statue of Cristo Rei, with wonderful views over the sea and the surroundings. One of the island’s best beaches, the Jesus Backside Beach, is located just under the statue. Another display, known as Chega! (Stop!) is housed in the Timor-Leste Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, an old prison. Timor is renowned for the indigenous textiles and baskets of its various ethnic groups, which you will likely find for sale in the city’s markets and galleries.