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Dili

From Academic Kids

Dili, also spelled Dilli or Dilly, is the capital of East Timor. It lies on the northern coast of Timor island, the easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Dili is the chief port and commercial centre for East Timor, and has approximately 150 000 people. There is also an airport in Comoro, renamed after independence leader Nicolau Lobato, which is used for commercial and military flights. Dili is located at 8°34' South, 125°34' East (-8.5667, 125.5667).

Buildings and Monuments

Many buildings were destroyed in the violence of 1999, orchestrated by the Indonesian military and local pro-Indonesian militias. However, the city still has many buildings from the Portuguese era. The former Portuguese Governor's office is now the office of the President, Xanana Gusmo. It is known by the Portuguese language name Palacio das Cinzas, or 'Palace of the Ashes'. It was previously also used by the Indonesian-appointed Governor, and by the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

Even under Indonesian rule, during which the Portuguese language was banned, Portuguese street names like Avenida Marechal Carmona remained unchanged, although they were prefixed with the Indonesian word Jalan or 'road'. The Roman Catholic Church at Motael became a focus for resistance to Indonesian occupation.

Legacies of Jakarta's occupation are the Church of the Immaculate Conception, purportedly the largest cathedral in Southeast Asia, and the 'Integration Monument', commemorating the Indonesian annexation of the territory in 1976. Featuring a statue of a Timorese in traditional dress, breaking the chains round his wrists, the monument has not yet been demolished.

History

Dili was settled about 1520 by the Portuguese, who made it the capital of Portuguese Timor in 1596. During World War II, Dili was occupied by the Japanese. East Timor unilaterally declared independence from Portugal on November 28th 1975. However, nine days later, on December 7th, Indonesian forces invaded Dili. On July 17th, 1976, Indonesia annexed East Timor, which it called Timor Timur, with Dili as its capital.

However, a brutal guerrilla war ensued between Indonesian and pro-independence forces, during which tens of thousands of civilians were killed. Although Dili itself was under Indonesian control, the East Timorese resistance did manage to attack Indonesian property. Consequently, it was not until 1989 that foreign nationals or Indonesian civilians were allowed into the '27th province'.

Media coverage of the 1991 Dili Massacre revitalised international support of the East Timorese independence movement. In 1999, East Timor was placed under UN supervision and on May 20 2002, Dili became the capital of the independent Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

External Link

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