29 destinations to visit in 2009
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East Timor( Antonio Dasiparu / EPA )
Place: East Timor
Why it's a hot ticket in 2009: For the avid eco-tourist or whale watcher, 2009 may be the year for East Timor. At the end of 2008, scientists discovered a hotbed of whale and dolphin activity off the waters of the Southeast Asian nation. The researchers identified at least 1,000 of the marine mammals in one day alone. The finding helps confirm the existence of a migration route for marine animals in the deep oceanic waters off East Timor. Diving is already a popular activity for tourists to the country.
Though East Timor has been marred with violence since its independence in 1999 from Indonesia, the U.S. State Department reports that social and political tensions in the country died down in 2008. It does warn tourists to be careful around sites associated with past violence, including Dili, East Timor's capital.
-- Jason La
Pictured: East Timorese students perform a traditional dance during an independence day ceremony in Dili.