Description of East Timor
East Timor is technically the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste. The country is located in the southeastern part of Asia. East Timor is north and west of Australia and is a part of the Lesser Sunda Islands, which are a part of the Indonesian archipelago.
East Timor was once a Portuguese colony. The country declared its independence from Portugal in the year 1975 on the 28th day of November. Just 9 days afterward the country was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces. This was done with approval from Australia and the United States. By the summer of 1976 the country was annexed to be a province of Timor Timur.
Over the next 20 years, the colony was integrated by Indonesia and many positions of authority were occupied by Indonesians instead of the East Timorese. During this time frame it is estimated that anywhere from 100,000 up to 250,000 people lost their lives during a pacification campaign.
On the 30th of August in 1999, the United Nations supervised a referendum that was quite popular. It gave the people of east Timor the chance to vote to become independent from Indonesia. When the results were given people who opposed independence along with the Indonesian military terrorized the population creating a civil war that would destroy most of the infrastructure of the country. A peace keeping force from the United Nations was led by Australian forces and used to re-establish a society that was civil and to help reconstruct the nation.
In May of 2002, the country was recognized as an independent state. Peace keeping forces remained in the country and several non-government organizations started operations. Troops from the United Nations were withdrawn officially in the year 2012. The East Timor police and the army took over the military installations. There are still non-government organizations that operate in the country, but the numbers have been declining since the U.N. troops were withdrawn in 2012.
What to See
The climate of East Timor is hot and humid. The wet season lasts from November through May. During this time some road damage may occur. This can make travel to some of the more remote areas quite difficult. The average temperature throughout the year is around 30 degrees Celsius. The dry season occurs from June through October.
In the middle of April the annual Carnival de Timor is held. This carnival was started by the department of tourism in the year 2010. The carnival is all about music, fun, and multiculturism. There are both traditional and modern costumes found during this time. Foreign minorities, the east Timorese, and several embassies all participate in the yearly festival. The parade starts at the Palacio do Governo, it ends here as well. There are bands and awards given to the group that is deemed the best dressed. Festivities and dance can last well into the night.
East Timor tourists are quite the rare breed. When visiting expect to hear the word Malae used quite often. This is the world for foreigner and the people of the island are going to want to talk to you. When you travel to each village you will find that you are very welcome in each village. This is a great way to pass the time on your trip and to get to know the culture of the land.
The country has a rich cultural heritage that comes from the years of being inhabited by humans including the colonial times from the Portuguese and Indonesians. East Tibor is in a great place for ecotourism and this has been considered in the strategic plan for tourism. One of the more well protected areas is Nino Konis National Park. This area is considered to be one of the last of the tropical lowland forests in existence. Here you will find diving, bird watching, pre-historic sites, and trekking.
Jaco Island and Atauro Island located in Tutuala both attract snorkelers, divers, as well as green tourism enthusiasts. Each of the destinations has lodge facilities and has a bit of support from NGO’s that are still in the region. One of the attractions that you must see is the local fisherman and divers on the island of Atauro. These people only fish using spear guns and goggles that are traditional for the area. Atauro is also known for the wooden sculptures. This is a great place to buy many great handicrafts.
For tourists who are a bit more adventurous, there is some world class trekking available in East Timor. Some of the best places to hike include Mount Kablaki, Mount Matebian, Ainaro, and Mount Ramelau, as well as many others.
When you are hiking through the country you can watch for some of the many species of birds that are on the island. There are 32 that are endemic and 8 species that are exclusive to Timor.
Throughout the nation you will find Portuguese churches, fortresses, as well as other monuments. If you are a history enthusiast, the resistance tourism is definitely worth exploring. Some of the places you may want to include in your itinerary are Xanana Gusmao’s hiding place, Balibo, which is known for 5 journalists who were killed by Indonesian soldiers, the massacre site that occurred in Santa Cruz in the year 1991, and the Japanese caves located in Baucau.
Some facts about East Timor
Gallery of East Timor
East Timor video guide
More information about East Timor
Climate of East Timor:
Top cities of East Timor
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