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Timor Leste

Background

Asia's newest Nation. Timor Leste - or East TImor - occupies only one half of the island of Timor, located in the Lesser Sundas between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, east of Bali.

Formerly a Portuguese colony,  Timor Leste gained independence on 28 November 1975 but was invaded 9 days later by the Indonesian army and was incorporated into the Republic of Indonesia in July the following year as the province of Timor Timur.

For the following 20 years the Indonesian government waged a campaign of pacification during which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 people died, until finally in August 1999, a UN-sponsored referendum resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence once again. However in the period following the vote up until the arrival of multinational peacekeeping forces in late September that year, anti-independence militias, supported by the indonesian army, conducted a blanket scorched-earth campaign of retribution, killing around 1,400 people and forcing over 300,000 to flee into West Timor as refugees. Much of the infrastructure was destroyed during this period.

International recognition of East Timor as an independent state came in May 2002, and in 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections took place, deemed to be relatively peaceful and fair. The following year a rebellion by disaffected soldiers was suppressed with the leader being killed in the attack. Most of the rebels then surrendered and the country has seen a period of stability since then.

The topography of East Timor is a semi-arid and mountainous, and the island is fringed with sandy beaches and rich coral reefs, affording excellent diving. Tourism Infrastructure remains almost non-extent such that East Timor is a destination for the more experienced, adventurous traveller in search of a challenge.

Portuguese is the official language along with Tetum, the local dialect, although Bahasa Indonesia is still widely spoken amongst the general population. Some English is spoken, particularly in the capital, Dili.

While the countryside is spectacular and the people very welcoming, most visitors to East Timor go for its magnificent scuba diving.

Highlights

Weather and Water Temperature

Timor-Leste is a tropical country and the weather is fairly even all year round, being typically hot and humid in lower regions with more moderate temperatures in the mountains. November to May is considered the “wet season” and travelers can expect heavy tropical rains, with temperatures reaching 30 °C (87°F). The “dry season” runs from June to October and sees temperatures rising to a high of 34°C (92°F), peaking in November just before the heavy rains begin.

Water temperatures are broadly similar throughout the region; ranging from 26-29°C (79-85°F). A 3mm wetsuit is suitable for these conditions and available for rental, free of charge, whilst onboard. However we advise those guests who feel the cold, particularly after prolonged exposure, to bring their own 5mm full suit and or hooded vest or thermal protection. The sun can be particularly strong, as such, we advise guests to bring a long sleeve UV shirt and to wear sunscreen if using a shorty.


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