East Timor is made up of 13 provinces. Colonial architecture,
Portuguese fortresses and other remains from the 100-year-long
Portuguese occupation can be found all over the country. However, many
towns and villages were destroyed during the Indonesian occupation and
the fighting in 1999, which are slowly being rebuilt. Many houses are
still built on stilts in the traditional way, using local materials
such as grass, bamboo, tree trunks and palm leaves.
DILI : The
capital of Portuguese East Timor, Dili is today the administrative
capital of the new country. Colonial architecture abounds in Dili,
along with a Portuguese castle dating from 1627. Another
attraction is the State Museum of East Timor, founded in 1995,
with one-tenth of its collection still surviving. The collection
includes religious woodcarvings, wood figures, traditional crafts,
musical instruments and paintings. Most of the city was destroyed in
1999, with any surviving buildings bearing considerable war wounds.
UNTAET led restoration works by rebuilding the most important
government and official buildings. There are many catholic churches
in Dili and a famous, large statue of Christ on a hilltop near
Cape Fatucama. Outside the city, there are numerous beautiful
beaches, the most popular of which being Areia Branca (‘white
BAUCAU : The
second largest city in East Timor, Baucau is still charming despite
the devastation it has incurred, with Portuguese colonial architecture
and caves used by the Japanese during the occupation in World War II.
Due to its location, Baucau is always comfortably cool and the beaches
5km (3 miles) from the city are breathtaking. The 4-hour journey
between Dili and Baucau is well worth taking, offering some of the
finest coastal views.
Oecussi province belongs to East Timor politically, yet is a part
of Indonesian West Timor culturally and geographically; it was 95 per
cent destroyed during the fighting and the remaining inhabitants
mostly live in small hamlets and villages. Its capital,
Pantemakassar, was the first Portuguese settlement and as such has
special meaning for the East Timorese. A sleepy little town, it lies
between the coast and the mountains. Coral reefs off the nearby coast
offer the opportunity for diving and snorkelling. Mountain biking and
hiking are possible in the interior or in the mountains.