Dili is East Timor’s capital, biggest city, main port, and commercial center.
Dili is located on East Timor’s northern shore, sandwiched between the central highlands that stretch the length of the country and the Ombai Strait. When East Timor gained independence in May 2002, this lovely, indolent little beach city was thrust into the position of national capital.
Dili is also the capital of the same-named district. The district include both the neighboring surroundings and Atauro Island.
Dili – Info Card
|POPULATION :||City: 222,323 / Metro: 234,331|
|TIME ZONE :|
|LANGUAGE :||Tetum (official), Portuguese (official), Indonesian, English|
|RELIGION :||Roman Catholic 98%, Muslim 1%, Protestant 1%|
|AREA :||48.268 km2 (18.636 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||11 m (36 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||8°34′S 125°34′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male:|
|ETHNIC :||Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian), Papuan, small Chinese minority|
Tourism in Dili
During colonial times, Dili was the quintessential backwater, serving as the capital of a distant colony in a remote area of the globe. However, this tradition has left Dili with an unique Portuguese flavor, and it, along with Macau, is perhaps the farthest east where you can enjoy authentic Portuguese cuisine and architecture. Dili has now recovered admirably, however many burnt structures may still be seen.
THINGS TO DO:
- There are beautiful beaches around Dili. The ones in the town center are popular with children, however they are polluted. Areia Branca, near Christo Rei, has the most accessible beaches, as well as a number of taverns and restaurants. The finest nearby beach is Jesus Backside Beach, which may be reached through a walking path halfway up the steps to Christo Rei, or by automobile by driving from Metiaut across the mountains and searching for a turn-off on the left (this is the remains of the road that used to go around the point).
- A church just down and across the street from the Leader supermarket hosts an English language liturgy on Sunday mornings at 10.30 a.m. (and Tetum Masses at other times).
- VCDs, DVDs, and Audio CDs may be purchased for a very low price. If you’re bringing a laptop, it’s a good idea to have applications installed.
- Visit Ramelau – East Timor’s tallest peak. You may camp close before the summit and trek up for the sunrise (a couple of hours climb). It’s a popular activity, so ask around or inquire at the Hotel Dili – they can organise a fantastic 4WD excursion. NB: It gets quite cold at night.
- Dive the area near Dili and Atauro Island. Dive Popular diving operators include Timor Lorosae, Freeflow, and Compass Charters. Dili is surrounded by a multitude of diving spots. K41 and Bob’s Rock are famous destinations near Manatuto to the east. Longer visits to Atauro Island or Jaco Island may be arranged by dive companies. Don’t miss up the opportunity to visit the world’s last unspoilt reef.
THINGS TO SEE:
- Visit Cristo Rei, a statue of Jesus that rises on a cliff east of Dili. According to legend, when the largely Muslim Indonesians created the monument as a present to the primarily Christian East Timorese, they designed it so that Jesus faced Jakarta. The monument is around 20 meters tall and stands atop an earth globe. The path from Dili down the beach and up the stairs to the Jesus statue is popular with both exercisers and local fisherman, and it passes various niches depicting the stations of the crucifixion. The view over the harbor to Dili from the statue is breathtaking. Follow the main route east out of town from Dili. Taxi drivers will transport you there for $5, but you must pay extra to ensure that they wait while you browse around.
- Cape Fatucama. Aka Backside Beach. The beach just behind the Jesus monument is a picturesque, inverted c-shaped shoreline with near-transparent seas that is much superior than Areia Branca. If you’re driving, take the road that crosses the ridge near Ramos-home Horta’s east towards Baucau and search for the turnoff on the left. Otherwise, go up the stairs towards Cristo Rei and then down other steps to the beach halfway up.
- Resistance Museum, Rua Universidade (next to the university). 9AM-5PM except Sunday. Learn about the 25-year-long battle for East Timor’s independence and what the people went through. $1.
- Dare War Memorial (10km inland along the road that goes from Palacio de Governo into the mountains).A monument to the Sparrow Force, an Australian regiment that battled the Japanese in Timor for many years, as well as an exhibition about the unit and the Timorese combat experience. Excellent views of Dili and a café available on weekends. Free.
Geography of Dili
Dili is located on Timor Island, the easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It is the administrative capital of the district of Dili, which covers the island of Atauro and various cities near to Dili city.
Internet, Comunication in Dili
There are a lot of commercial locations where you may connect to the internet, such as the business centers at many hotels. Globel Net includes Internet for $4.00 an hour and Skype, so bring your own headsets. Some hotels, such as Dili Beach Hotel & Bar and the Smokehouse Bar at the Backpackers, now provide free Wi-Fi to its clients. Data may be added by buying a sim card (about $10USD for 800mb). This is simple to accomplish in Timor Plaza locations because they can set it up for you.
East Timor has extremely few landlines, with the majority concentrated in Dili. It’s a good idea to bring a mobile phone handset; however, make sure it’s unlocked in your home country first, since it may cost up to $30.00 to get it unlocked here, and then purchase a new sim-card from Timor Telecom (US$3). Local calls are reasonably priced, while SMS inside East Timor costs $0.20. Calls to Australia cost around 50 cents per minute, or 40 cents off peak (between 8pm and 8am and all day Sunday).
Mail is not delivered to street addresses. You must utilize a post office box at the central post office if you wish to receive mail. Packages from Australia typically take around two weeks to arrive. It is critical that individuals put ‘through Darwin, Australia’ on their addresses; otherwise, messages will be routed via Jakarta, Singapore, or possibly Lisbon. Letters/packages have been known to take up to a year and a half to arrive, even to vanish entirely on occasion, however this is the exception rather than the norm.