Capital | Dili
Population | 997,853
Area | 15,007 SQ KM
Official Language | Tetun, Portuguese
Currency | Dollar (USD)
Time Zone | UTC +9
Best Time to Visit | May to November for the weather
Connecting with the Culture | Walking up to towering Christ Statue at Cape Fatucama to take in the view over the bay to Dili. Diving the crystal waters off Atauro Island amid turtles, dugongs and colourful reef fish. Climbing lofty Mt Matebian (2315m), East Timor’s holy mountain. Overnightling in the historic pousada (Portuguese inn) at Maubisse. Visiting the crumbling Portuguese garrison of Fausaba in Patemakassar.
Read | Timothy Mo’s The Redundancy of Courage, which uses the fictional country of Danu to depict East Timor’s struggle during the Indonesian occupation. Luis Cardoso’s Crossing: A Story of East Timor is a memoir of growing up in East Timor under Portuguese and Indonesian rule.
Listen | to Liberdade Viva East Timor, the benefit album for the newly created nation.
Watch | Death of a Nation: the Timor Conspiracy, John Pilger’s exploration of the international abandonment of the tiny nation.
Eat | fresh seafood- East Timor’s crystal-clear seas are teeming with gourmet goodies, which find their way onto restaurant tables cooked in various tempting Indonesian, Chinese and Portuguese styles.
Drink | rich, flavorsome Arabica coffee or sopi, a potent brew distilled from the pandanus plant.
In a Word | Ba nebé (where are you going?)
Characteristics | Xana Gusmão; José Ramos-Horta; UN convoys; freedom fighters; colourful woven lengths of tais (traditional cloth).
Surprises | A small patch of East Timor (the Oecussi Enclave) sits nearly 100km removed from the rest of the country, sharing all its land borders with Indonesian West Timor; the Greater Sunrise oilfield between Australia and East Timor is believed to be a rich source of both oil and gas and its bounty should provide the struggling nation with income for years to come.
NEWS ABOUT EAST TIMOR:
East Timor Votes in Run-Off Election: 10 Years of Independence
(HN, 3/27/12) - 2 former guerrilla leaders vied for East Timor's presidency Monday, each hoping to steer the 10 year old nation after the UN peacekeeping troops begin their planned withdrawal later this year. Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres & Taur Matan Ruak are running neck & neck after Jose Ramos-Horta who had been President of East Timor, since May 2007 was knocked out in the 1st round of voting; coming in 3rd in last month's poll. Both Guterres, a former parliament speaker, & Ruak pledged to abide by the outcome of the balloting & have urged their supporters to do the same. Previously, Taur Matan Ruak, Ramos-Horta & Guterres were independence fighters alongside Xanana Gusmao, East Timor's 1st president & its current prime minister.
Gusmao, who switched from president to prime minister after the 2007 election, campaigned for Taur Matan Ruak, who is running as an independent. East Timor was a Portuguese colony for 400 years before Indonesia sent in troops in 1975. The 24-year occupation was ended by a UN-sponsored independence referendum in 1999. The road to democracy has been anything but easy; gang violence & splits in the army & police at times have turned deadly, & 6 years ago the government collapsed. While the role of president is largely ceremonial, the winner has the potential to help unify Asia's newest & poorest nation. (Read more at Arirang)
East Timor president concedes defeat
(HN, 3/19/12) - Jose Ramos Horta promises to hand over power to eventual winner after being placed third in Sunday's presidential poll. Ramos Horta was lagging in third place after more than 70 per cent of votes of Sunday's presidential poll were counted, election secretariat official Luiz Fernando Valls told the AFP news agency. On Monday, Ramos Horta promised to hand over power to the eventual winner."On the stroke of midnight on May 19, I will hand over leadership of the country to the new president, one of the two who are now going for a second round," the Nobel-laureate told reporters in the capital Dili. The two leading candidates, Francisco "Lu Olo'' Guterres, of the traditionally strong leftist Fretilin party, and former military chief Taur Matan Ruak, will be contesting the runoff election. (READ MORE from ALJazeera)