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Cristo Rei of Dili

15 Interesting Facts About Dili (East Timor)

  1. Dili’s cliff line is adorned with an 88-foot statue of Cristo Rei, which looks similar to Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. Hikers have to climb nearly 600 steps just to get to the statue.
  2. One of the cheaper ways to get around Dili is through a mikrolet. These colorfully decorated minibuses are the closest thing to public transportation in the district.
  3. To see a Timorese Mercado or market, there are only two places to go in Dili. In the Tais and Comoro Market, visitors can purchase woven cloth and other traditional items.
  4. Weaving Tais, a traditional Timorese cloth, is ceremonially done by women. The practice is usually passed on through oral tradition. Depending on the colors and patterns, the Tai cloth is used in marriage, funerals, and other ceremonies.
  5. Aside from the Philippines, East Timor is the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia. Approximately 90 percent of the population identify themselves as Catholics. At least 500,000 Timorese are part of the Diocese of Dili.
  6. There are several museums and monuments dedicated to the resistance movement in Dili. Aside from the Dili Resistance Museum, there is also the Santa Cruz cemetery which highlights the nation’s struggle for independence.
  7. Dili has a thriving expatriate community. Most of these expats work for nongovernment organizations, embassies or consulates, or volunteer for a limited time in the district.
  8. Dili is one of the youngest capitals in the world since East Timor only became an independent nation on May 2002.
  9. Dili and the rest of East Timor thrive in a multilingual environment. Aside from Portuguese, English, and Indonesian, some residents also speak Tetum, an Austronesian language.
  10. Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases are still present in the area.
  11.  Nobel Laureate José Manuel Ramos-Horta was born in Dili. He served as the prime minister then president of East Timor.
  12. Dili was designated as a “City of Peace” in 2008. Horta made the announcement during a peace-building event for at-risk youth held in the district that year.
  13.  The annual Dili marathon for peace draws thousands of participants all over the world.
  14.  Building up on their plan to strengthen the tourism industry, Dili hosts a Carnival de Timor every year where participants wear costumes and participate in cultural activities.
  15. Tasitolu, a conservation site within the Dili district, has several lakes that turn red at certain times of the year due to a certain type of algae. This wetland area has cultural and political significance to the people of East Timor.