Somewhere in the world are still a few places where you can travel for days without seeing any fellow travellers! Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor, is not far north of Australia, though it feels like a world away. Here you will find a world not yet overrun by mass tourism. A place where the sight of a traveller is rare, in particular outside the capital, Dili, and nearby Atauro Island.
Timor Leste is one of the world’s newest countries, and unquestionably one of the least explored countries in the world.
It is a relatively peaceful country these days, though peace did not come easy. After centuries of Portuguese colonial rule, independence in East Timor was declared on November 28, 1975. However, under false pretenses, Indonesian President Suharto’s military forces swiftly invaded East Timor on December 7, 1975 and declared it “Timor Timur”, a new province of Indonesia. For the next 24 years, the Timorese people were subjected to the brutal treatment under the Indonesian forces. Killings such as the 1991 Santa Cruz Massacre caused outrage. During these years, an estimated 90,000 to 200,000 people died!
After endless international interventions, the Indonesian troops withdrew and Timor Leste achieved independence on May 20, 2002.
An easy trip should include a few days in Dili and even more time on nearby idyllic Atauro Island.
Venturing further away is challenging as road conditions are notorious for being bad and in the rainy season (November to May) some roads will be inaccessible. This small country is mostly mountainous so a 4-wheel drive is necessary. Travel within Timor is not cheap though the rewards may outweigh the cost.
Among the reasons to visit are the lonely beaches, spectacular diving, unspoiled scenery, homegrown coffee, and idyllic islands.
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