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in Dili, East Timor

Dili Attractions and Things to See

Dili, East Timor, is the capital and biggest city in the country that sits on the northern coast of the Timor island, the easternmost island of the Lesser Sundra Islands, its chief port and commercial hub, with an airport in Comoro, called the Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport that is used for commercial and military flights. It was settled in the early 16th century by Portuguese, that made it the capital of Portuguese Timor in 1769, and during WWII, it became occupied by the Japanese. In 1975, it would declare unilateral independence from Portugal, but nine days later, Indonesian Forces invaded the city, and in 1976, Indonesia would annex East Timor, that would make it the 27th province of Indonesia, with Dili as its capital. From 1975 to 1999, a guerilla war would begin, between Indonesia and pro-independent forces that would see tens of thousands citizens in the country and quite a few foreign civilians being murdered. The media would cover the 1991 Dili Massacre that would revitalize international support for the independent movement, and in 1999, East Timor would be put under UN supervision, and in 2002, it would become an independent nation, with Dili as its capital.

The majority of its structures would be damage or destroyed in the violence of 1999, that was instigated by the Indonesian military and local pro-Indonesia militias, but the city still has numerous structures from the Portuguese period. The former Portuguese governor's office now houses the office of the Prime Minister, after being used before by the Indonesian-appointed governor and by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor. Even while Indonesian forces ruled the country, Portuguese language would be banned, but many of the old Portuguese street names would be kept, but they would be prefixed by the Indonesian word, jalan or Road. The Roman Catholic Church at Motael would become a focal point for resistance to the Indonesian occupation, with legacies of Jakarta's occupation can be seen at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Dili, and supposedly the biggest cathedral in Southeast Asia. Another large monument is the Integrations Monument that commemorates the Indonesian annexation of the territory in 1976, and features a statue of a Timorese in traditional dress, breaking the chains that encompass his wrists, although it may be demolished at some future time. The Cristo Rei of Dili is an 88 foot tall statue of Jesus that is standing on the top of a globe that sits at the end of a peninsula in Dili. That statue is one of the premier tourist attraction in the city and country, and believed to be the second tallest statue of its kind in the world; and ironically, a gift from the Indonesian government.

The international airport is the only major airport in the country, although it does have a few smaller domestic airstrips in other towns, and until just recently, the airport's runways were unable to accommodate aircraft bigger than a Boeing 757 or C-130 Hercules, but in 2008, the Portuguese charter airline EuroAtlantic Airways would use a Boeing 757 to land 140 members of the Guarda Nacional Republicana.
The Dili area has magnificent scenery, with large mountain pools, amazing caves, outstanding deep sea fishing, excellent hiking and exploring treks, with great restaurant, nightclubs and bars. The city has a large number of restaurants, with western tastes and menus, along with the local fresh fish, great curries and vegetables that have been especially prepared in the local traditions