East Timor Overview
Far off the beaten path is the island nation known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, or simply Timor-Leste. East Timor comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, and while this beautiful little island between the Banda and Timor Seas is host to some of the most beautiful island scenery in this region of the world, its troubled past and the political differences between Portugal and Indonesia have overshadowed an island which might otherwise have become a tourist hub in the 20th century. It is probably both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, its recent declaration as an independent nation in 2002 has opened the doors to a virgin island ripe with tourist opportunities. Tourism is becoming established and East Timor is increasingly accessible to the traveller.
Despite its troubled past, East Timor is host to some of the most amazing coastal areas on the planet. The capital of Dili provides access to some amazing diving conditions right off the shore, while at the same time the pristine beaches of Jaco Island boast some of the most brilliantly-white and pristinely-untouched beaches on Earth. The crumbling coffee plantations and Portuguese colonial towns such as Baucau give this island a uniquely Old World feel that simply cannot be experienced anywhere else.
The official languages are Portuguese and Tetum, while English and Indonesian are both widely understood. There's a certain odd mixture of European and Asian culture that gives the traveler an experience unlike any other. Accommodations and transportation are border-line in terms of acceptable, and will largely depend upon the traveler. Still, if seeing things that few other adventurers have ever seen is what drives your feet along the path, then East Timor is a must-see, without a doubt.