When a city is known as the “City of Peace” you know more or less what to expect. Known for its troubled history, more than for its superb dive sites, Dili is a fascinating patchwork of Christianity, independence, sandy beaches and Indonesian culture. In a nutshell, Dili’s history can be traced back to 1520, when it was settled by the Portuguese (which accounts for the 99% Christianity rate). However, invasion in WWII saw it briefly passed to the Japanese, before being returned to Indonesia in 1945. The capital of East Timor, it was declared an independent state in 1975, but was invaded by the Indonesians nine days later. A 25-year war ensued (amid much media coverage), resulting in the UN intervening and forcing a truce in 1999, with peace declared in 2002.
However, the City of Peace wears its name well, and locals are keen to shake off the shackles of their past. Unfortunately much of the local architecture has been damaged or destroyed but local life thrives, and for those who want to experience an authentic taste of East Timor, then look no further. Spend some time in port upon arrival to watch the local fishermen cleaning their nets after unloading the days catch. Colourful produce on sale in the market offer tasty souvenir shopping, but for those who like a more relaxed introduction to their destination, why not settle down with a cool coconut water and just watch the local life happen around you.