Timor-Leste: Wikis


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Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Repúblika Demokrátika Timór Lorosa'e
República Democrática de Timor-Leste
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"Unidade, Acção, Progresso"  (Portuguese)
("Unity, Action, Progress")
(and largest city)
8°34′S 125°34′E / 8.567°S 125.567°E / -8.567; 125.567
Official language(s) Tetum and Portuguese1
Working languages Indonesian and English [1]
Demonym East Timorese
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  President José Ramos-Horta
 -  Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão
Independence from Portugal, Indonesia² 
 -  Established 1702 
 -  Declared November 28, 1975 
 -  Restored May 20, 2002 
 -  Total 14,874 km2 (159th)
5,743 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2009 estimate 1,134,000[2] (155th)
 -  Density 76.2/km2 (132nd)
197.4/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $2.522 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $2,368[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $499 million[3] 
 -  Per capita $468[3] 
HDI (2007) 0.489[4] (low) (162nd)
Currency U.S. Dollar³ (USD)
Time zone (UTC+9)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .tl4
Calling code +670
1 15 further "national languages" recognised by the Constitution.
2 Indonesia invaded East Timor on December 7, 1975 and left in 1999.
3 Centavo coins also used.
4 .tp is being phased out.

East Timor, also known as Timor-Leste (Tetum: Timor Lorosae; officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste) is a country in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor. The small country of 15,410 km²[5] (5,400 sq mi) is located about 640 km (400 mi) northwest of Darwin, Australia.

East Timor was colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, and was known as Portuguese Timor until Portugal's decolonization of the country. In late 1975, East Timor declared its independence, but later that year was invaded and occupied by Indonesia and was declared Indonesia's 27th province the following year. In 1999, following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory and East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002. East Timor is one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being the Philippines.

East Timor is a lower-middle-income economy.[6] It continues to suffer the aftereffects of a decades-long independence struggle against Indonesia, which damaged infrastructure and displaced thousands of civilians. It is placed 158th by Human Development Index (HDI) among the world's states, the second lowest in Asia.


Etymology and naming issues

"Timor" derives from timur, the word for "east" in Indonesian and Malay (hence the Indonesian Timor Timur) which became Timor in Portuguese and entered English as Portuguese Timor. Lorosa'e is also the word for "east" in Tetum, literally "rising sun".

The official names under the Constitution are República Democrática de Timor-Leste in Portuguese (pronounced [tiˈmoɾ ˈlɛʃtɨ]), which is almost universally used within the country, and in Tetum, Repúblika Demokrátika Timór Lorosa'e, which is infrequently used and is not standard across the many Tetum dialects[citation needed]. Following independence, the government requested the official name in all languages be Timor-Leste[citation needed], but this has not been commonly adopted within English-speaking countries worldwide, where "East Timor" is the common usage[citation needed]. The Indonesian name Timor Timur, abbreviated as Timtim, is now less widely used, with the Indonesian government and media now using Timor Leste.

The official short form names of countries worldwide are set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ISO 3166-1 official short name in English and all other languages is Timor-Leste. The ISO definition is adopted by the United Nations,[7] the national standards organisations of France (AFNOR), the United States of America (ANSI), Britain (BSI), Germany (DIN) and Sweden (SIS) and is universally used by international NGOs.[citation needed] Timor–Leste is used as a matter of protocol by the departments of foreign affairs of almost all countries for example, the USA Department of State[8] and the European Union,[9] notable exceptions being Australia, which uses "East Timor".

The ISO name gives rise to the standard three letter country code TLS and two letter country code TL as in the country’s internet domain name. The old two letter country code, TP, is gradually being phased out.



Early history

The island of Timor was originally populated as part of the human migrations that have shaped Australasia more generally. It is believed that descendants from at least three waves of migration still live in the country. The first were related to the principal indigenous groups of New Guinea and Australia, and arrived before 40,000 years ago. Around 3000 BC, Austronesians migrated to Timor, and are possibly associated with the development of agriculture there.[citation needed] Thirdly, proto-Malays arrived from south China and north Indochina.[10] The mountainous terrain kept these groups separated, and this is why there is so much linguistic diversity in East Timor today.

Timor was incorporated into Chinese and Indian trading networks of the 14th century as an exporter of aromatic sandalwood, slaves, honey and wax. The earliest historical record about Timor island is 14th century Nagarakretagama, Canto 14, that identify Timur as an island within Majapahit's realm. Early European explorers report that the island had a number of small chiefdoms or princedoms in the early 16th century. One of the most significant is the Wehali (Wehale) kingdom in central Timor, with its capital at Laran, West Timor, to which the Tetum, Bunaq and Kemak ethnic groups were aligned.

Portuguese colonization

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to colonize the Maritime Southeast Asia when they arrived in the sixteenth century.[11] They established outposts in the (now Indonesian) Maluku Islands and Timor and surrounding islands. During the House of Habsburg's rule over Portugal (1580-1640), all surrounding outposts were lost and eventually came under Dutch control by the mid-seventeenth century. Effective European occupation of a small part of the territory only began after 1769, when the city of Dili, the capital of so-called Portuguese Timor, was founded.[12] In the nineteenth century, the Netherlands gained a foothold on the western half of the island West Timor, and formally received it in 1859 through the Treaty of Lisbon. The definitive border was established by the Hague Treaty of 1916, and it remains the international boundary between the successor states East Timor and Indonesia.

For the Portuguese, East Timor remained little more than a neglected trading post until the late nineteenth century. Investment in infrastructure, health, and education was minimal. Sandalwood remained the main export crop with coffee exports becoming significant in the mid-nineteenth century. In places where Portuguese rule was asserted, it tended to be brutal and exploitative.[13] At the beginning of the twentieth century, a faltering home economy prompted the Portuguese to extract greater wealth from its colonies which met Timorese resistance.[13]

In late 1941, Portuguese Timor was briefly occupied by Dutch and Australian troops in an attempt to preempt a Japanese invasion of the island. The Portuguese Governor protested the occupation, and Dutch forces returned to the Dutch side of the island.[14] The Japanese landed and drove the small Australian force out of Dili, and the mountainous interior became the scene of a guerrilla campaign, known as the Battle of Timor. Waged by Allied forces and Timorese volunteers against the Japanese, the struggle resulted in the deaths of between 40,000 and 70,000 Timorese.[15] Following the end of the war, Portuguese control was reinstated.

The process of decolonization in Portuguese Timor began in 1974, following the change of government in Portugal in the wake of the Carnation Revolution. Owing to political instability and more pressing concerns over the decolonisation of Angola and Mozambique, Portugal effectively abandoned East Timor and it unilaterally declared itself independent on November 28, 1975.[citation needed] Nine days later, it was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces before the declaration could be internationally recognized.

Indonesian occupation

As political parties began to form and emerge inside the country, the Indonesian military headed an operation that backed Apodeti, a pro-Indonesian party that encouraged divisions between the pro-independence parties of East Timor.[citation needed] A brief civil war occurred in 1975. Indonesia alleged that the East Timorese FRETILIN party, which received some vocal support from the People's Republic of China, was communist. Fearing a Communist domino effect in Southeast Asia—and in the wake of its South Vietnam campaign—the United States,[16] along with its ally Australia,[17] supported the pro-Western Indonesian government's actions. The UN Security Council had a unanimous vote for Indonesia to stop its invasion and to withdraw immediately from East Timor’s borders, and was blocked by the United States from imposing any economic sanctions or other means of enforcing this mandate.

The territory was declared the 27th province of Indonesia in July 1976. Its nominal status in the UN remained that of a "non-self-governing territory under Portuguese administration."

Demonstration for independence from Indonesia.

Indonesian rule in East Timor was often marked by extreme violence and brutality; estimates of the number of East Timorese who died during the occupation vary from 60,000 to 200,000,[18] A detailed statistical report prepared for the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor cited a minimum bound of 102,800 conflict-related deaths in the period 1974–1999, namely, approximately 18,600 killings and 84,200 'excess' deaths from hunger and illness.[19]

The East Timorese guerrilla force, Falintil, fought a campaign against the Indonesian forces from 1975–1999, some members being trained in Portugal by Portuguese special forces.[citation needed] The Dili Massacre proved a turning point for the East Timorese cause internationally, and a burgeoning East Timor solidarity movement grew in Portugal, Australia, and the United States.


Following a UN-sponsored agreement between Indonesia, Portugal and the United States and a surprise decision by the Indonesian President B. J. Habibie, a UN-supervised popular referendum was held on August 30, 1999, to choose between Special Autonomy within Indonesia and independence. 78.5% of voters chose independence, but violent clashes, instigated primarily by elements within the Indonesian military and aided by Timorese pro-Indonesia militias led by Eurico Guterres, broke out soon afterwards. A peacekeeping force (INTERFET led by Australia) intervened to restore order. The militias fled across the border into Indonesian West Timor, from which sporadic armed raids were attempted. As these raids were repelled and international moral opinion forced Indonesia to withdraw tacit support,[citation needed] the militias dispersed. INTERFET was replaced by a UN force of International Police, the mission became known as UNTAET, and the UNTAET Crime Scene Detachment was formed to investigate alleged atrocities. UNTAET was headed by the late Sérgio Vieira de Mello as UN Transitional Administrator from December 1999 to May 2002. On December 2, 1999, De Mello established the National Consultative Council (NCC), a political body consisting of 11 East Timorese and four UNTAET members charged with overseeing the decision-making process during the transition period leading to independence. However, UNTAET experienced difficulties initially in establishing its credibility amongst the Timorese leadership, leading to street violence. An important workshop on March 1, 2000, brought the Timorese and UN leadership group together to tease out a revised strategy, and identify institutional needs. The workshop was organised by Francis Martin O'Donnell [2], and the Timorese delegation was led by José Ramos-Horta, and included Mari Alkatiri. The outcome was an agreed blueprint for a joint administration with executive powers, including leaders of the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), led by future president Xanana Gusmão. Further details were worked out in a conference in May 2000. De Mello presented the new blueprint to a donor conference in Lisbon,[20] on June 22, 2000, and to the UN Security Council on June 27, 2000.[21] On July 12, 2000, the NCC adopted a regulation establishing a Transitional Cabinet of four East Timorese and four UNTAET representatives.[22] The revamped joint administration successfully laid the institutional foundations for independence, and on September 27, 2002, East Timor joined the United Nations.

Post independence

In April 2006, riots broke out in Dili following rivalry within the military and police; 40 people were killed and over 20,000 fled their homes. Fighting between pro-government troops and disaffected Falintil troops broke out in May 2006.[23] Upon the invitation of the Prime Minister, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Portugal sent troops to Timor, attempting to quell the violence.[24] On 26 June, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri resigned as Prime Minister, following an ultimatum from President Xanana Gusmão that he would resign if Alkatiri did not.[25] José Ramos-Horta was appointed as Alkatiri's successor on July 8, 2006.[26] In April 2007, Gusmão declined another presidential term. In the build-up to the April 2007 presidential elections there were renewed outbreaks of violence in February and March 2007. José Ramos-Horta was inaugurated as President on May 20, 2007, following his election win in the second round.[27] Gusmão was sworn in as Prime Minister on August 8, 2007. President Ramos-Horta was critically injured in an assassination attempt on February 11, 2008, in a failed coup apparently perpetrated by Alfredo Reinado, a renegade soldier who died in the attack. Prime Minister Gusmão also faced gunfire separately but escaped unharmed. The Australian government immediately sent reinforcements to East Timor to keep order.[28]


Government Palace in Dili.

The head of state of East Timor is the President of East Timor, who is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. Although the role is largely symbolic, the president does have veto power over certain types of legislation. Following elections, the president appoints the leader of the majority party or majority coalition as the Prime Minister of East Timor. As head of government, the prime minister presides over the Council of State or cabinet.

The unicameral Timorese parliament is the National Parliament or Parlamento Nacional, whose members are elected by popular vote to a five-year term. The number of seats can vary from a minimum of fifty-two to a maximum of sixty-five, though it exceptionally has eighty-eight members at present, due to this being its first term of office. The East Timorese constitution was modelled on that of Portugal. The country is still in the process of building its administration and governmental institutions.

Government departments

Districts, subdistricts, and sucos

Map of the districts of East Timor.

East Timor is divided into thirteen administrative districts:

1. Lautém 2. Baucau 3. Viqueque 4. Manatuto 5. Dili 6. Aileu 7. Manufahi 8. Liquiçá 9. Ermera 10. Ainaro 11. Bobonaro 12. Cova Lima 13. Oecusse Ambeno

The districts are subdivided into 65 subdistricts, 443 sucos and 2,336 towns, villages and hamlets.[29]


Map of East Timor shows cities and main roads.
Tasitolu in Dili.

Located in southeast Asia,[30] the island of Timor is part of the Maritime Southeast Asia, and is the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. To the north of the mountainous island are the Ombai Strait, Wetar Strait and the greater Banda Sea, to the south the Timor Sea separates the island from Australia, while to the west lies the Indonesian Province of East Nusa Tenggara. The highest mountain of East Timor is Tatamailau (also known as Mount Ramelau) at 2,963 meters (9,721 ft).

The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, characterised by distinct rainy and dry seasons. The capital, largest city and main port is Dili, and the second-largest city is the eastern town of Baucau.

The easternmost area of Timor-Leste consists of the Paitchau Range and Iralalaro area. This area has been proposed as the first conservation area in Timor-Leste as it contains the last remaining tropical dry forested area within the country. It hosts a number of unique plant and animal species and is sparsely populated.[31] The northern coast is characterised by a number of coral reef systems that have been determined to be at risk.[32]


Prior to and during colonization, Timor was best known for its sandalwood.

In late 1999, about 70% of the economic infrastructure of East Timor was destroyed by Indonesian troops[citation needed] and anti-independence militias, and 260,000 people fled westward. From 2002 to 2005, an international program led by the United Nations, manned by civilian advisers, 5,000 peacekeepers (8,000 at peak) and 1,300 police officers, substantially reconstructed the infrastructure. By mid-2002, all but about 50,000 of the refugees had returned.

One promising long-term project is the joint development with Australia of petroleum and natural gas resources in the waters southeast of Timor. The Portuguese colonial administration granted concessions to Oceanic Exploration Corporation to develop the deposits. However, this was curtailed by the Indonesian invasion in 1976. The resources were divided between Indonesia and Australia with the Timor Gap Treaty in 1989.[33] The treaty established guidelines for joint exploitation of seabed resources in the area of the "gap" left by then-Portuguese Timor in the maritime boundary agreed between the two countries in 1972.[34] Revenues from the "joint" area were to be divided 50%-50%. Woodside Petroleum and ConocoPhillips began development of some resources in the Timor Gap on behalf of the two governments in 1992.

East Timor inherited no permanent maritime boundaries when it attained independence, repudiating the Timor Gap Treaty as illegal. A provisional agreement (the Timor Sea Treaty, signed when East Timor became independent on 20 May 2002) defined a Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA), and awarded 90% of revenues from existing projects in that area to East Timor and 10% to Australia.[35] The first significant new development in the JPDA since Timorese independence is the largest petroleum resource in the Timor Sea, the Greater Sunrise gas field. Its exploitation was the subject of separate agreements in 2003 and 2005. Only 20% of the field lies within the JPDA and the rest in waters not subject to the treaty (though claimed by both countries). The initial, temporary agreement gave 82% of revenues to Australia and only 18% to East Timor.[36]

The Government of East Timor has sought to negotiate a definite boundary with Australia at the halfway line between the countries, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Government of Australia preferred to establish the boundary at the end of the wide Australian continental shelf, as agreed with Indonesia in 1972 and 1991. Normally a dispute such as this would be referred to the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for an impartial decision,[37] but the Australian government had withdrawn itself from these international jurisdictions (solely on matters relating to maritime boundaries) shortly before Timorese independence.[38] Nevertheless, under public and diplomatic pressure, the Australian government offered instead a last-minute concession on Greater Sunrise gas field royalties alone.[39] On July 7, 2005, an agreement was signed under which both countries would set aside the dispute over the maritime boundary, and East Timor would receive 50% of the revenues (estimated at A$26 billion or about US$20 billion over the lifetime of the project)[40] from the Greater Sunrise development. Other developments within waters claimed by East Timor but outside the JPDA (Laminaria-Corallina and Buffalo) continue to be exploited unilaterally by Australia, however.[41]

Subdistricts suffering from hunger in November 2007

In 2007 a bad harvest led to deaths in several parts of Timor-Leste. In November 2007, eleven subdistricts still needed food supplied by international aid.[42]

East Timor also has a large and potentially lucrative coffee industry, which sells organic coffee to numerous Fair Trade retailers and on the open market.[citation needed]

Currently three foreign banks have a branch in Dili: Australia's ANZ, Portugal's Banco Nacional Ultramarino, and Indonesia's Bank Mandiri.

There are no patent laws in East Timor.[43]


Man in traditional dress, East Timor.jpg

The population of East Timor is about one million. It has grown considerably recently, because of a high birth rate, but also because of the return of refugees.[citation needed] The population is especially concentrated in the area around Dili.

The Timorese are called Maubere collectively by some of their political organizations, an originally derogatory name turned into a name of pride by Fretilin. They consist of a number of distinct ethnic groups, most of whom are of mixed Malayo-Polynesian and Melanesian/Papuan descent. The largest Malayo-Polynesian ethnic groups are the Tetum[44] (or Tetun) (100,000), primarily in the north coast and around Dili; the Mambae (80,000), in the central mountains; the Tukudede (63,170), in the area around Maubara and Liquiçá; the Galoli (50,000), between the tribes of Mambae and Makasae; the Kemak (50,000) in north-central Timor island; and the Baikeno (20,000), in the area around Pante Macassar. The main tribes of predominantly Papuan origin include the Bunak (50,000), in the central interior of Timor island; the Fataluku (30,000), at the eastern tip of the island near Lospalos; and the Makasae, toward the eastern end of the island. In addition, like other former Portuguese colonies where interracial marriage was common, there is a smaller population of people of mixed Timorese and Portuguese origin, known in Portuguese as mestiços. The East Timorese mestiço best-known internationally is José Ramos-Horta, the spokesman for the resistance movement in exile, and now President of East Timor. Mário Viegas Carrascalão, Indonesia's appointed governor between 1987 and 1992, is also a mestiço. East Timor also has a small Chinese minority, most of whom are Hakka. Most left after the Indonesian invasion, with most moving to Australia although many Sino-Timorese have returned, including Pedro Lay, the Minister for Infrastructure.


Upon independence, East Timor became one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia (along with the Philippines), although nearby parts of Indonesia also have Catholic majorities, including West Timor and Flores. The population predominantly identifies as Roman Catholic (97%), though local animist traditions have a persistent and strong influence on the culture. Religious minorities include Muslims (1%) (including former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri) and Protestants (1%) (including Taur Matan Ruak, Commander of the Falintil-FDTL). Smaller Hindu (0.5%), Buddhist (0.1%) and traditional animist minorities make up the remainder.[45][46][47] Church membership grew considerably under Indonesian rule, as Indonesia's state ideology Pancasila does not recognize traditional beliefs and requires all citizens to believe in God. Although the struggle was not about religion, as a deep-rooted local institution the Church not only symbolized East Timor's distinction from predominantly Muslim Indonesia, but also played a significant role in the resistance movement, as personified by Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.[48] The constitution acknowledges the Church's role among the East Timorese people although it also stipulates a secular state that guarantees freedom of religion to everyone.


East Timor's two official languages are Portuguese and Tetum, which belongs to the Austronesian family of languages spoken throughout Southeast Asia.[49] The predominant form of Tetum, known as Tetun-Dili, grew out of the dialect favored by the colonizers at Dili, and thus has considerable Portuguese influence, but other dialects of Tetum are also widely used in the country, including Tetun-Terik which is spoken along the southwestern coast. Indonesian and English are defined as working languages under the Constitution in the Final and Transitional Provisions, without setting a final date. Another fifteen indigenous languages are spoken: Bekais, Bunak, Dawan, Fataluku, Galoli, Habun, Idalaka, Kawaimina, Kemak, Lovaia, Makalero, Makasai, Mambai, Tokodede, and Wetarese.

Under Indonesian rule, the use of Portuguese was banned, but it was used by the clandestine resistance, especially in communicating with the outside world.[citation needed] The language, along with Tetum, gained importance as a symbol of resistance and freedom and was adopted as one of the two official languages for this reason, and as a link to nations in other parts of the world. It is now being taught and promoted widely with the help of Brazil, Portugal, and the Latin Union, although its prominence in official and public spheres has been met with some hostility from younger Indonesian-educated Timorese.

According to the 2006 UN Development Report (using data from official census), under 5%[50] of the Timorese population is proficient in Portuguese. However, the validity of this report has been questioned by members of the Timorese National Institute of Linguistics,[51] which maintains that Portuguese is spoken by up to 25% of Timorese, with the number of speakers more than doubling in the last five years.[citation needed] Along with other local languages, Tetum remains the most common means of communication between ordinary Timorese, while Indonesian is still widely used in the media and school from high school to university. A large proportion of words in Tetum are derived from Portuguese, but it also shares many Malay-derived words with Indonesian. Many Indonesian words are still in common use in Tetum and other Timorese languages, particularly numbers.

East Timor is a member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), also known as the Lusophone Commonwealth, and a member of the Latin Union. It is the only independent state in Asia with Portuguese as an official language, although this is also one of the official languages of China's Special Administrative Region of Macau.


The culture of East Timor reflects numerous influences, including Portuguese, Roman Catholic, and Malaysia, on the indigenous Austronesian and Melanesian cultures of Timor. Legend has it that a giant crocodile was transformed into the island of Timor, or Crocodile Island, as it is often called. East Timorese culture is heavily influenced by Austronesian legends, although the Catholic influence is also strong. There is a strong tradition of poetry. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, for example, is a distinguished poet. As for architecture, some Portuguese-style buildings can be found, along with the traditional totem houses of the eastern region. These are known as uma lulik (sacred houses) in Tetum, and lee teinu (houses with legs) in Fataluku. Craftsmanship is also widespread, as is the weaving of traditional scarves or tais.


About half the adult population are illiterate. [52] Illiteracy is higher among women. [53] Illiteracy was at 90 % at the end of Portuguese rule[citation needed]. In 2006, 10-30 % of primary-school age children did not attend school. [54] The country has the National University of East Timor. Indonesian plays a considerable role within education[citation needed].


Life expectancy at birth was at 60.7 in 2007. [55] The Fertility rate is at six births per woman. [56] Healthy life expectancy at birth was at 55 years in 2007. [57] Government expenditure on health was at US$ 150 (PPP) per person in 2006. [58] Many people in East Timor lack safe drinking water. [59]


East Timor has joined many international sport associations, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC board has granted full recognition to the East Timorese Olympic Committee (COTL). The IOC had allowed a mainly symbolic four-member team to take part in the 2000 Sydney Games under the Olympic flag as "Independent Olympic Athletes." The Federação de Timor-Leste de Atletismo has joined the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The Federação de Badminton de Timor-Leste joined the International Badminton Federation (IBF) in April 2003. The East Timor Cycling Federation has joined the Union Cycliste Internationale. The Confederação do Desporto de Timor Leste has joined the International Weightlifting Federation. East Timor is also a full member of the International Table-Tennis Federation (ITTF). In September 2005, East Timor's national football team joined FIFA.

East Timor has taken part in several sporting events. Although the athletes came back with no medals, East Timorese athletes had the opportunity to compete with other Southeast Asian athletes in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games held in Vietnam in 2003. In the 2003 ASEAN Paralympics Games, also held in Vietnam, East Timor won a bronze medal. In the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, six athletes participated in three sports: athletics, weightlifting and boxing). East Timor won three medals in Arnis at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. East Timor was also one of the competing nations in the first Lusophony Games, winning a bronze medal in the women's volleyball competition (finishing third out of three teams), despite the fact the team had lost all its three games. On October 30, 2008, East Timor earned their first international points in a FIFA match with a 2-2 draw against Cambodia.[60]

Public holidays

East Timor now has public holidays that commemorate historic events in the liberation struggle, as well as those associated with Catholicism and Islam. They are defined in Timor-Leste Law no. 10/2005PDF (16.7 KiB).

Date Name Notes
January 1 New Year's Day
date varies Eid al-Adha
March-April Good Friday
May 1 Labour Day
May 20 Independence Restoration Day Anniversary of transfer of sovereignty from the United Nations transitional government, 2002
May-June Corpus Christi
August 30 Popular Consultation Day Anniversary of the Popular Consultation, 1999
November 1 All Saints' Day
November 2 All Souls' Day
November 12 National Youth Day Anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre, 1991
November 28 Proclamation of Independence Day 1975
date varies Idul Fitri
December 7 National Heroes' Day Anniversary of Indonesian invasion of East Timor, 1975
December 8 Immaculate Conception
December 25 Christmas Day

In addition, the law defines "official commemorative dates" which are not considered holidays but could be subject to time off from work:

Date Name
February-March Ash Wednesday
March-April Holy Thursday
May-June Ascension Day
June 1 International Children's Day
August 20 Day of the Armed Forces for the National Liberation of Timor-Leste (FALINTIL)
November 3 National Women's Day
December 10 International Human Rights Day

See also


Notes and references

  1. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1508119.stm
  2. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d "East Timor". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=537&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=29&pr.y=0. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ "Human Development Report 2009. Human development index trends: Table G". The United Nations. http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2009_EN_Complete.pdf. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  5. ^ mne.gov.tl
  6. ^ World Bank Country Groups, 2007
  7. ^ United Nations Member States
  8. ^ USA Department of State: Timor Leste Country Page
  9. ^ European Union deploys Election Observation Mission to Timor Leste
  10. ^ "Brief History of Timor-Leste". Official Web Gateway to the Government of Timor-Leste. Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. 2006. http://www.timor-leste.gov.tl/AboutTimorleste/history.htm. ; A. Barbedo de Magalhães (24 October 1994). "Population Settlements in East Timor and Indonesia". University of Coimbra website. University of Coimbra. http://www.uc.pt/timor/CURSO1A.HTM. 
  11. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Timor-Leste
  12. ^ http://www.lusotopie.sciencespobordeaux.fr/carneiroSousa.rtf
  13. ^ a b Schwarz, A. (1994). A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s. Westview Press. pp. page 198. ISBN 1-86373-635-2. 
  14. ^ http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/histories/20/chapters/21.pdf
  15. ^ Department of Defence (Australia), 2002, "A Short History of East Timor" Access date: January 3, 2007.
  16. ^ Two days before the invasion of Dili, U.S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met President Suharto in Jakarta where Ford said "We will understand and will not press you on the issue. We understand the problem and the intentions you have." Kissinger added: "It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly [because] the use of US-made arms could create problems." (William Burr and Michael L. Evans (eds.),"East Timor Revisited", National Security Archive, December 6, 2001) Jimmy Carter, during his first year in office, authorized 112 million dollars worth of military arms to Indonesia.(Shelton)
  17. ^ Fernandes, Clinton (2004) Reluctant Saviour: Australia, Indonesia and East Timor
  18. ^ Nunes, Joe (1996). "East Timor: Acceptable Slaughters". The architecture of modern political power. http://www.mega.nu/ampp/nunestimor.html. ; Amnesty International estimated deaths at 200,000 (""POWER AND IMPUNITY" Human rights under the new order". Amnesty International. September 1994. Archived from the original on 2006-10-14. http://web.archive.org/web/20061014150002/http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/indopub/indoint.htm. ); Ben Kiernan has written in War, Genocide, and Resistance in East Timor, 1975–99: Comparative Reflections on Cambodia that "the crimes committed... in East Timor, with a toll of 150,000 in a population of 650,000, clearly meet a range of sociological definitions of genocide used by most scholars of the phenomenon, who see both political and ethnic groups as possible victims of genocide." From the beginning of the invasion in 1975, the widespread amount of killing that occurred was staggering, with hundreds being executed on docks in Dili and being thrown into the sea (Charny,Israel W. Encyclopedia of Genocide Volume I. Denver: Abc Clio), as many as 60,000 being slaughtered within the first few months of the invasion. From 1975 until 1993, attacks on civilian populations were only nominally reported in the Western press. Since each data source used under-reports actual deaths, this is considered a minimum.
  19. ^ Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group (9 February 2006). "The Profile of Human Rights Violations in Timor-Leste, 1974-1999". A Report to the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation of Timor-Leste. Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG). http://www.hrdag.org/resources/timor_chapter_graphs/timor_chapter_page_02.shtml. 
  20. ^ Dili, 21 June 2000
  22. ^ http://www.unmit.org/UNMISETWebSite.nsf/TimeLineofUNMISET.htm?OpenPage
  23. ^ BBC News
  24. ^ www.iol.co.za;RTE News;The Sydney Morning Herald,RTE News
  25. ^ Herald Sun
  26. ^ ABC News Online
  27. ^ guardian.co.uk
  28. ^ BBC News
  29. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20070604232701/http://www.unmiset.org/legal/RDTL-Law/RDTL-Minist-Orders/Decree-Order-2003-6.pdf
  30. ^ United Nations
  31. ^ Norwegian energy and Water Resources Directorate (NVE) (2004), Iralalaro Hydropower Project Environmental Assessment
  32. ^ ReefGIS - Reefs At Risk - Global 1998
  33. ^ atns.net.au
  34. ^ "Radio Australia". Archived from the original on 2007-01-02. http://web.archive.org/web/20070102054153/http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/news/timelines/s1408008_to.htm. 
  35. ^ aph.gov.au
  36. ^ transparency.gov.tl
  37. ^ etan.org East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
  38. ^ austlii.edu.au; http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_declarations.htm#Australia%20after%20ratification United Nations]
  39. ^ "Downer's spin and the East Timor talks". Archived from the original on 2005-12-01. http://web.archive.org/web/20051201131559/http://www.crikey.com.au/articles/2005/05/09-1204-7954.html. 
  40. ^ canb.auug.org.au
  41. ^ pm.gov.tp
  42. ^ Voice of America, 24.06.07, East Timor Facing Food Crisis and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Timor-Leste
  43. ^ Gazetteer - Patents
  44. ^ Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia: Peoples and Histories. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. pp. page 378. ISBN 0-300-10518-5. 
  45. ^ Timor-Leste (03/08)
  46. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Timor-Leste
  47. ^ Timor-Leste
  48. ^ See also Liquiçá Church Massacre.
  49. ^ Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia: Peoples and Histories. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. pp. page 378. ISBN 0-300-10518-5. 
  50. ^ JSMP ReportPDF (295 KiB)
  51. ^ Dr. Geoffrey Hull's reply to the article "The article by Alfred Deakin and the reply from Geoffrey Hull deserve comment", by Sean Foley
  52. ^ http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_TMP.html
  53. ^ http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/march-2006/timor-leste-hdr20060309.en?g11n.enc=ISO-8859-1
  54. ^ http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/march-2006/timor-leste-hdr20060309.en?g11n.enc=ISO-8859-1
  55. ^ http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_TMP.html
  56. ^ http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_TMP.html
  57. ^ http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_TMP.html
  58. ^ http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_TMP.html
  59. ^ http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/march-2006/timor-leste-hdr20060309.en?g11n.enc=ISO-8859-1
  60. ^ [1]


  • Cashmore, Ellis (1988). Dictionary of Race and Ethnic Relations. New York: Routledge. ASIN B000NPHGX6
  • Charny, Israel W. Encyclopedia of Genocide Volume I. Denver: Abc Clio.
  • Dunn, James (1996). East Timor: A People Betrayed. Sydney: ABC Books.
  • Levinson, David. Ethnic Relations. Denver: Abc Clio.
  • Rudolph, Joseph R. Encyclopedia of Modern Ethnic Conflicts. Westport: Greenwood P, 2003. 101-106.
  • Shelton, Dinah. Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. Thompson Gale.
  • Taylor, John G. (1999). East Timor: The Price of Freedom. Australia: Pluto Press. ISBN 1856498409.

External links

General information

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to East Timor article)

From Wikitravel

Asia : Southeast Asia : East Timor
Quick Facts
Capital Dili
Government Republic
Currency US dollar (USD)
Area 15,007 km2
Population 924,642 (2004 Census)
Language Tetum (official), Portuguese (official), Indonesian, English, 37 indigenous languages
Religion Roman Catholic 90%, Muslim 4%, Protestant 3%, Hindu 0.5%, Buddhist, Animist (1992 est.)
Calling Code 670
Internet TLD .tl
Time Zone UTC+9
Travel Warning

WARNING: East Timor is not safe for independent travel or individual sightseeing. Those visiting for business, research, or international aid purposes should consult with their organization and seek expert guidance before planning a trip. The U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia have renewed their annual travel advisories for East Timor, and continue to recommend against all non-essential travel to the country. If you must go, see War zone safety. See also the Stay safe section of this article.

East Timor (Portuguese: Timor Leste, Tetum: Timor Lorosa'e, Indonesian: Timor Timur) [1] is a country in Southeast Asia. It lies northwest of Australia in the Lesser Sunda Islands at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. East Timor includes the eastern half of the island of Timor, the Oecussi (Ambeno) region on the northwest portion of the island of Timor, and the small islands of Atauro and Jaco.


The eastern half of the island of Timor, East Timor, is a former Portuguese colony that declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975. Nine days later, Indonesian forces invaded and occupied the former colony, without incurring the disapproval of the United States and Australia. By July 1976 the colony had been annexed as the province of Timor Timur.

Over the next two decades, Indonesia integrated the colony, with many significant positions of authority being occupied by Indonesians rather than the Timorese. An estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals are believed to have lost their lives during a campaign of pacification during this time.

The United Nations supervised a popular referendum on 30 August 1999, in which the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. After the results were announced, gangs of independence opponents, supported by the Indonesian military, terrorised the population in a civil war that destroyed much of the country's infrastructure. A United Nations peacekeeping force led by Australian forces was sent in to re-establish a civil society and reconstruct the nation.

On 20 May 2002, East Timor was internationally recognized as an independent state under the official name of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste.

East Timor consists of 13 administrative districts.

  • Aileu
  • Ainaro
  • Baucau
  • Bobonaro (Maliana)
  • Cova-Lima (Suai)
  • Dili
  • Ermera
  • Lautem (Los Palos)
  • Liquisa
  • Manatuto
  • Manufahi (Same)
  • Oecussi (Ambeno)
  • Viqueque
  • Dili
  • Baucau
  • Ermera
  • Liquica
  • Manatuto
  • Suai
  • Tutuala
  • Viqueque
  • Maliana
  • Ainaro
  • Maubisse

Get in


Check out the Immigration Department of Timor Leste [2] for specific details on visa requirements for your country. A 30 day travel permit is available to foreign nationals for US$30 on arrival. This permit can be extended after arrival allowing a total stay of 90 days.

Portuguese passport holders do not need a visa for short stay entry (max 30 days).

By plane

Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport' (IATA: DIL ICAO: WPDL), formerly known as Comoro Airport, is the main international airport of Dili. The airport is served by flights from Darwin, Australia on AirNorth [3] and Bali (Denpasar), Indonesia on Merpati Nusantara Airlines [4]. AustAsia Airlines [5] also offers weekly charters on Silkair aircrafts from Singapore. Flights are not scheduled every day so check out the schedules when making travel plans. Flights occasionally fill weeks in advance so plan accordingly.

By land

The main land border crossing with Indonesia is at Mota'ain (or Motain), 115km west of Dili. The nearest East Timorese town is Batugade, 3km to 4km away. The nearest Indonesian town of consequence is the West Timorese town of Atambua.

For those arriving from Indonesia, East Timorese visas are issued on arrival.

However, for those going the other direction, Indonesian visas must be obtained beforehand as they are not issued at the border. Getting a visa at the Indonesian Embassy in Dili is possible; it takes one week to issue a 60 day tourist visa (return flight not needed!) and it costs US$35.

  • Cross-border buses

There is a direct bus service daily between Dili and Kupang in West Timor, Indonesia. Operated by Timor Travels and Leste Oeste Travel. Journey takes 12 hours.

  • Non-direct buses

From Dili, catch a bus to the border (US$3, three hours). Once you get off the bus, go through East Timorese customs and immigration, walk across the border into Indonesia, go through Indonesian immigration and catch another bus for your onward journey to Atambua or Kupang.

From Atambua, regular mikrolets (vans) or ojeks (motorcycle taxis) run to the border at Mota'ain.

By boat

Indonesia's Pelni ships no longer serve Dili. There is a weekly barge service from Darwin for vehicles and goods.

Get around

By plane

Although there are airports in Baucau and Suai, there are no domestic flights within East Timor. Oecussi airstrip is restricted to medical evacuation flights only.

By bus

Buses, mostly of the small variety found on remote Indonesian islands, run to most parts of the country and main cities like Dili, Baucau, Maliana, Los Palos and Suai are quite well linked. Indonesian-style bemos (vans) and mikrolets (minibuses) - legacies from its 24-year rule - run from these cities to nearby villages.

Most departures take place very early in the morning and drivers have a tendency of doing keliling (Indonesian for "going round") where they spend considerable time combing the streets and scouting for passengers before actually departing.

Fares are about US$2 or US$3 for journeys over 100km. For example, Dili-Baucau (123km) costs US$2 while Dili-Mota'ain (115km) costs US$3.


Tetum and Portuguese are the official languages, but Indonesian which is widely spoken and English which is very limited are working languages according to the constitution. There are also about 37 indigenous languages, of which Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak are spoken by significant numbers of people.

A person who is proficient in Indonesian and Portuguese can get around quite easily. Don't expect to understand locals' conversations though.


The US Dollar is the legal tender currency in East Timor and all transactions are in dollars. Banks and a few ATMs can be found in Dili. East Timor issued coins denominated in centavos and are not the same size as U.S coinage, although U.S. coins are widely accepted.

Traditional East Timorese silver jewelry
Traditional East Timorese silver jewelry

The two main things to bring home from East Timor are coffee and traditional hand-woven cloths called Tais. The design of the Tais vary distinctively from region to region, and an expert can even tell which family they are made from. Much like Scottish kilts, Tais for a given family should only be worn by that family. In Dili, the best place to find Tais is the Tais market, where you also can buy local silver jewelry. Many street sellers also deal in Tais.

There are also some wood carvings in a style similar to what you might see brought from trips to Africa sold here and there, but these are less easy to find. Closer to the eastern tip of East Timor, you might find turtle shell bracelets on sale. While it might be slightly less unethical to buy them in a place where they kill turtles both for food and shell, your more ethically inclined peers and the customs officer may differ.

The coffee of East Timor is dark and excellent and can be found at reasonable prices in any convenience store or some roadside stalls.

Sandal wood used to be one of the most important exports of East Timor, but it might take an expert to buy it now.


Dili has a number of decent hotels, and prices have come down since the heady days of independence and huge crowds of UN workers. Accommodation elsewhere in the country is very limited.

Stay safe

East Timor continues to face sporadic internal ethnic & political tension and related violence may occur. This may not be targeted at foreigners or tourists, but follow the guidelines below. During periods where this is not an issue, remember you are travelling in a poor country, and crimes such as assault and theft do occur:

  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Don't go around Dili at night on foot, especially alone.
  • Be careful around the refugee camps
  • Be careful getting into taxis at night or those with darkened windows - they may already have someone in them in addition to the driver

Travel advisories

  • Australian Government Travel Advisory [6]
  • Canadian Government Travel Advice [7]
  • US Consular Information on Timor Leste [8]
  • UK Government Travel Advice [9]

Stay healthy

Hospitals and Doctors

There are hospitals in main centres, and clinics in many sub-districts elsewhere but medical care is not up to dealng with sustained or complex medical emergencies. Medical evacuation is often the only option in the case of complex surgery, trauma, or major illness. Travellers are strongly advised not to enter East Timor without some form of medical insurance which will cover medivac by air ambulance, be this travellers insurance from your travel agent or an employer if you are entering for professional reasons.

Dili - Dili National Hospital, located in Bidau Santana.

Pante Makassar, Oecussi - located in town near the port


By phone

Timor Telecom [10] has a monopoly on landline and mobile phone services in East Timor, and charges accordingly — expect to pay up to US$3/minute for international calls. Local prepaid SIM cards can be picked up for around US$3.

By Internet

Internet in East Timor is slow and limited. Timor Telecom holds the monopoly for this as well, and tries to block voice-over-IP services like Skype.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun




  1. The official name of East Timor.

See also



Alternative spellings

Proper noun


  1. East Timor (Country in Oceania)


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