Dili, or The City of Peace, is the capital of Timor-Leste.
It is located on the north coast. This is where your Virtual Trek begins!
The city is the hub of commercial and administrative activity for the country, yet it is easy to escape the hustle and bustle in minutes along the coast or inland to enjoy quiet beaches and mountain villages. Steep hills surround the tropical city with the contentious Cristo Rei of Dili statue a popular monument overlooking the beaches to the East of the city.
With a population of 200,000, Dili hosts almost 1/5 of the nation’s population. Each year people migrate to Dili from the relatively poor rural areas in search of education and work. While the majority of Dili’s community endure harsh poverty and crowded living conditions, there is a growing middle class. 10 years ago, it was rare to see a Dili resident eating in malae (foreigner) style restaurants, driving their own cars or shopping in supermarkets but now this is commonplace.
Year-round warmth graces the tropical savanna city, though seasonal changes are quite dramatic, from bone dry riverbeds through to flooding rains. Climate change and its widespread effects are especially dramatic in some of the low-lying areas of the city.
A long, and brutal colonial history dating back to the 1500s has shaped the cityscape in both natural and built forms. Many buildings were destroyed in the period of intense violence in 1999 and reconstruction is still underway.
Visitors to Dili enjoy a dramatic environment: graceful civic buildings constructed in the Portuguese time, high rise office bustling markets with stall holders selling vegetables, baskets, legumes, love chickens and ubiquitous second-hand clothes.
Roads through town are often chock full of motor bikes (some loaded up with cargo and passengers), microlets or small buses with young passengers hanging from the door, wildly coloured buses with livestock and packs of vegetables stacked haphazardly on top. Chickens and pigs share the busy streets with vehicles and walkers in a generally respectful and cohesive state.
The municipality of Dili includes the picturesque island of Atauro, situated 25kms off the coast to the north. The 999m high island is famed for rugged terrain, snorkelling and diving, though still plagued by landslides and fresh water shortages.
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