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#71 East Timor

Fighting for independence took decades, but only a dozen years since breaking away from Indonesia, East Timor is still learning that the rewards of going it alone include having to build an economy from scratch.

The tiny half-island nation is amongst the world’s poorest, but it is also amongst the least explored and least tourism-ravaged. With some of the best diving and coral in the world, not to mention jungles and rugged mountains, beaches and a whole lot of history, it surely won’t be long before East Timor becomes far more accessible and world-renowned.

East Timor may be on an island, but its own islands offer even more, and none more so that Atauro. 25 kilometers north of Dili over a crevasse that dips 3500 meters below sea level, Atauro is known locally as “goat island.” With only one serviceable road, its villages are connected by walking paths, and its population remains undetermined, with people seemingly still being discovered living in the nooks and crannies of the jagged green landscape.