East of Eden
After years of foreign control, East Timor became the world’s newest nation this week. Now the country must rise from the ashes wrought by years of brutal domination by Indonesia — and it hopes to do so in part by capitalizing on its abundant natural beauty to attract eco-tourists. Currently, East Timor is the poorest country in Asia, but revenue from scuba diving, mountain trekking, biking, and other outdoor pursuits could become the island-nation’s lifeblood, according to Craig Wilson, an economic policy adviser who helped draw up a development plan for the new nation. But there are some catches to the plan: East Timor is not easy to get to, prices are higher than in nearby vacation destination Bali, and, unsurprisingly, there have been virtually zero foreign travelers in recent years, so the nation must start from scratch to build a tourist base.
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