Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Motto: "Unidade, Acção, Progresso" (Portuguese)
"Unity, Action, Progress"
Anthem: Pátria (Portuguese)
and largest city
|Government||Unitary parliamentary semi-presidential republic|
|Taur Matan Ruak|
|Rui Maria de Araújo|
|November 28, 1975|
|May 20, 2002|
|14,874 km2 (5,743 sq mi) (159th)|
• Water (%)
• 2010 estimate
|76.2/km2 (197.4/sq mi) (132nd)|
|GDP (PPP)||2012 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2012 estimate|
• Per capita
|HDI (2013)|| 0.576
medium · 134th
|Currency||United States dollar (USD)|
|ISO 3166 code||TL|
|Internet TLD||.tl d|
The Democratic Republic of East Timor or Timor Leste is a country in Southeast Asia. It is on the eastern side of the island of Timor, and also the smaller islands of Atauro and Jaco, and a small area, named Oecussi-Ambeno, inside the west side of Timor. That area is an exclave, which means it is separated from the main part of the country by part of another country. That other country is Indonesia.
East Timor gets its name from the Malay word for "east", timur.
It is a member of the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
For a long time, Portugal controlled the East Timor and called it the Colony of Portuguese Timor. In 1975, the Portuguese army left, and East Timor was invaded (taken over) by the Indonesian army in 1975. The invasion was very violent. The army stayed there until 1999, when they gave up control of the territory with the help of the United Nations.
At the time, the United States government said it did not know Indonesia was going to invade East Timor. But secret documents, released from 2002 to 2005, show that Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of State of the United States, did know, and supported the invasion.
When it got its independence on 20 May 2002, it became the first country to become independent in the twenty-first century (since the year 2001). In 2006, when Montenegro became independent, East Timor was no longer the newest one.
Since then, East Timor has not been given much attention in the news. Recently, the Colombian music artist Shakira made a song named "Timor", which talks about the country. The attention is because there has been fighting in East Timor between gangs (groups of criminals with guns), security forces (the country's army). Australia, a large nearby country, sent troops in to make peace.
East Timor is a small country located between Australia and Indonesia, 3,000 years ago, East Timor was a mountainous island composed of migrant indigenous people from New Guinea, Australia and Melanesia.
There were some migrants from Austronesia searching for a new life on this island. Some of the people arrived from South China and North Indochina looking for trade because East Timor had resources which could be exported, like sandalwood, honey, slaves and wax.
During the Second World War, the Japanese occupied the region, encountered strong resistance to their attempts to force the population to grow foods for their troops and export. At the time 30% of the population died.
On 25 April 1974, the Portuguese Armed Forces headed by General António de Spínola organized a Military Coup against Salazar’s regime called the Revolution of Carnations. After this revolution, Portugal decided to give freedom to the colonized countries.
Located in Southeast Asia, the island of Timor is part of Maritime Southeast Asia, and is the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. To the north of the island are the Ombai Strait, Wetar Strait, and the greater Banda Sea. The Timor Sea separates the island from Australia to the south, and the Indonesian Province of East Nusa Tenggara lies to East Timor's west.
Much of the country is mountainous, and its highest point is Tatamailau (also known as Mount Ramelau) at 2,963 metres (9,721 ft). The climate is tropical and generally hot and humid. It is 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. East Timor lies between latitudes 8° and 10°S, and longitudes 124° and 128°E.
The easternmost area of East Timor consists of the Paitchau Range and the Lake Ira Lalaro area, which contains the country's first conservation area, the Nino Konis Santana National Park. 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. The northern coast is characterised by a number of coral reef systems that have been determined to be at risk.
Flora and fauna
Timor and its offshore islands such as Atauro, a former place of exile increasingly known for its beaches and coral, as well as Jaco along with Wetar and the other Barat Daya Islands to the northeast constitute the Timor and Wetar deciduous forests ecoregion. The natural vegetation was tropical dry broadleaf forests with an undergrowth of shrubs and grasses supporting a rich wildlife. However much of the original forest has been cleared for farming, especially on the coasts of Timor and on the smaller islands like Atauro. Apart from one large block in the centre of Timor only patches remain. This ecoregion is part of the Wallacea area with a mixture of plants and animals of Asian and Australasian origin; it lies in the western part of Wallacea, in which Asian species predominate.
Many trees are deciduous or partly deciduous, dropping their leaves during the dry season, there are also evergreen and thorn trees in the woodland. Typical trees of the lowland slopes include Sterculia foetida, Calophyllum teysmannii and Aleurites moluccanus.
During the Pleistocene epoch, Timor was the abode of extinct giant monitor lizards similar to the Komodo dragon. Like Flores, Sumba and Sulawesi, Timor was also once a habitat of extinct dwarf stegodonts, relatives of elephants.
Fauna of today includes a number of endemic species such as the distinctive Timor shrew and Timor rat. The northern common cuscus, a marsupial of Australasian origin occurs as well, but is thought to be introduced. The island have a great number of birds, mainly of Asian origin with some of Australasian origin. There is a total of 250 species of which twenty four are endemic, due to the relative isolation of Timor, including five threatened species; the slaty cuckoo-dove, Wetar ground dove, Timor green pigeon, Timor imperial pigeon, and iris lorikeet.
Frog species in Timor include Duttaphrynus melanostictus, Hoplobatrachus tigerinus, Limnonectes timorensis, Litoria everetti, and Polypedates leucomystax. A new species of microlyhid frog belonging to the genus Kaloula has also recently been discovered in Timor.
Late Cretaceous fossils of marine vertebrates are known from East Timor deposits. These include mosasaurs such as Globidens timorensis, lamniforme sharks, coelacanths and the choristodere Champsosaurus.
East Timor has a market economy that used to depend upon exports of a few commodities such as coffee, marble, petroleum, and sandalwood. East Timor's economy grew by about 10% in 2011 and at a similar rate in 2012.
East Timor now has revenue from offshore oil and gas reserves, but little of it has gone to develop villages, which still rely on subsistence farming. Nearly half the population lives in extreme poverty.
The Timor-Leste Petroleum Fund was established in 2005, and by 2011 it had reached a worth of US$8.7 billion. East Timor is labelled by the International Monetary Fund as the "most oil-dependent economy in the world". The Petroleum Fund pays for nearly all of the government's annual budget, which has increased from $70 million in 2004 to $1.3 billion in 2011, with a $1.8 billion proposal for 2012. East-Timor's income from oil and gas stands to significantly increase after its announcement to cancel a controversial agreement with Australia, which has given Australia half of the income from oil and gas since 2006.
The economy is dependent on government spending and, to a lesser extent, assistance from foreign donors. Private sector development has lagged due to human capital shortages, infrastructure weakness, an incomplete legal system, and an inefficient regulatory environment. After petroleum, the second largest export is coffee, which generates about $10 million a year. Starbucks is a major purchaser of East Timorese coffee.
9,000 tonnes of coffee, 108 tonnes of cinnamon and 161 tonnes of cocoa were harvested in 2012 making the country the 40th ranked producer of coffee, the 6th ranked producer of cinnamon and the 50th ranked producer of cocoa worldwide.
According to data gathered in the 2010 census, 87.7% of urban (321,043 people) and 18.9% of rural (821,459 people) households have electricity, for an overall average of 38.2%.
The agriculture sector employs 80% of the active population. In 2009, about 67,000 households grew coffee in East Timor, with a large proportion being poor. Currently, the gross margins are about $120 per hectare, with returns per labour-day of about $3.70. There were 11,000 household growing mungbeans as of 2009, most of them subsistence farmers.
The country was ranked 169th overall and last in the East Asia and Pacific region by the Doing Business 2013 report by the World Bank. The country fared particularly poorly in the "registering property", "enforcing contracts" and "resolving insolvency" categories, ranking last worldwide in all three.
As regards telecommunications infrastructure, East Timor is the second to last ranked Asian country in the World Economic Forum's Network Readiness Index (NRI), with only Myanmar falling behind it in southeast Asia. NRI is an indicator for determining the development level of a country's information and communication technologies. East Timor ranked number 141 overall in the 2014 NRI ranking, down from 134 in 2013.
The Portuguese colonial administration granted concessions to Oceanic Exploration Corporation to develop petroleum and natural gas deposits in the waters southeast of Timor. 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. East Timor inherited no permanent maritime boundaries when it attained independence. 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. An agreement in 2005 between the governments of East Timor and Australia mandated that both countries put aside their dispute over maritime boundaries and that East Timor would receive 50% of the revenues from the resource exploitation in the area (estimated at A$26 billion, or about US$20 billion over the lifetime of the project) from the Greater Sunrise development. In 2013, East Timor launched a case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to pull out of a gas treaty that it had signed with Australia, accusing the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) of bugging the East Timorese cabinet room in Dili in 2004.
There are no patent laws in East Timor. A Timor Railway System has been in proposal but the current government has yet to advocate the proposal due to lack of funds and expertise.
|Source: 2015 census|
East Timor recorded a population of 1,167,242 in its 2015 census.
The CIA's World Factbook lists the English-language demonym for Timor-Leste as Timorese, as does the Government of Timor-Leste's website. Other reference sources list it as East Timorese.
The word Maubere, formerly used by the Portuguese to refer to native East Timorese and often employed as synonymous with the illiterate and uneducated, was adopted by Fretilin as a term of pride. Native East Timorese consist of a number of distinct ethnic groups, most of whom are of mixed Austronesian and Melanesian/Papuan descent. The largest Malayo-Polynesian ethnic groups are the Tetum (100,000), primarily in the north coast and around Dili; the Mambai (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 (80,000), in the central interior of Timor island; the Fataluku (40,000), at the eastern tip of the island near Lospalos; and the Makasae (70,000), toward the eastern end of the island. As a result of interracial marriage which was common during the Portuguese era, there is a population of people of mixed East Timorese and Portuguese origin, known in Portuguese as mestiços. There is a small Chinese minority, most of whom are Hakka. Many Chinese left in the mid-1970s.
East Timor's two official languages are Portuguese and Tetum. English and Indonesian are sometimes used, and are designated as working languages. Tetum belongs to the Austronesian family of languages spoken throughout Southeast Asia.
The 2010 census found that the most commonly spoken mother tongues were Tetum Prasa (mother tongue for 36.6% of the population), Mambai (12.5%), Makasai (9.7%), Tetum Terik (6.0%), Baikenu (5.9%), Kemak (5.9%), Bunak (5.3%), Tokodede (3.7%), and Fataluku (3.6%). Other indigenous languages largely accounted for the remaining 10.9%, while Portuguese was spoken natively by just under 600 people.
Under Indonesian rule, the use of Portuguese was banned and only Indonesian was allowed to be used in government offices, schools and public business. During the Indonesian occupation, Tetum and Portuguese were important unifying elements for the East Timorese people in opposing Javanese culture. Portuguese was adopted as one of the two official languages upon independence in 2002 for this reason and as a link to Lusophone nations in other parts of the world. It is now being taught and promoted with the help of Brazil, Portugal, and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. The government believes that Portuguese will be the dominant and most widely used language in East Timor in the next few years, as proficiency in the Portuguese language is accelerating rapidly.
Indonesian and English are defined as working languages under the Constitution in the Final and Transitional Provisions, without setting a final date. Aside from Tetum, Ethnologue lists the following indigenous languages: Adabe, Baikeno, Bunak, Fataluku, Galoli, Habun, Idaté, Kairui-Midiki, Kemak, Lakalei, Makasae, Makuv'a, Mambae, Nauete, Tukudede, and Waima'a. It is estimated that English is understood by 31.4% of the population. As of 2012, 35% speak, read, and write Portuguese, which is up significantly from less than 5% in the 2006 UN Development Report.
East Timor is a member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (also known as the Lusophone Commonwealth) and of the Latin Union.
According to the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, there are six endangered languages in East Timor: Adabe, Habu, Kairui-Midiki, Maku'a, Naueti, and Waima'a.
East Timor's adult literacy rate in 2010 was 58.3%, up from just 37.6% in 2001. Illiteracy was at 95 per cent at the end of Portuguese rule.
The National University of East Timor is the country's main university. There are also four colleges.
Since independence, both Indonesian and Tetum have lost ground as mediums of instruction, while Portuguese has increased: in 2001 only 8.4% of primary school and 6.8% of secondary school students attended a Portuguese-medium school; by 2005 this had increased to 81.6% for primary and 46.3% for secondary schools. Indonesian formerly played a considerable role in education, being used by 73.7% of all secondary school students as a medium of instruction, but by 2005 it was used by most schools only in Baucau, Manatuto, as well as the capital district.
The number of churches has grown from 100 in 1974 to over 800 in 1994, with Church membership having grown considerably under Indonesian rule as Pancasila, Indonesia's state ideology, requires all citizens to believe in one God and does not recognise traditional beliefs. East Timorese animist belief systems did not fit with Indonesia's constitutional monotheism, resulting in mass conversions to Christianity. Portuguese clergy were replaced with Indonesian priests and Latin and Portuguese mass was replaced by Indonesian mass. While just 20% of East Timorese called themselves Catholics at the time of the 1975 invasion, the figure surged to reach 95% by the end of the first decade after the invasion. In rural areas, Roman Catholicism is practised along with local traditions. With over 90% Catholic population, East Timor is currently one of the most densely Catholic countries in the world.
While the Constitution of East Timor enshrines the principles of freedom of religion and separation of church and state in Section 45 Comma 1, it also acknowledges "the participation of the Catholic Church in the process of national liberation" in its preamble (although this has no legal value). Upon independence, the country joined the Philippines to become the only two predominantly Roman Catholic states in Asia, although nearby parts of eastern Indonesia such as West Timor and Flores also have Roman Catholic majorities.
The Roman Catholic Church divides East Timor into three dioceses: the Diocese of Díli, the Diocese of Baucau, and the Diocese of Maliana.
The culture of East Timor reflects numerous influences, including Portuguese, Roman Catholic and Indonesian, on Timor's indigenous Austronesian and Melanesian cultures. East Timorese culture is heavily influenced by Austronesian legends. For example, East Timorese creation myth has it that an aging crocodile transformed into the island of Timor as part of a debt repayment to a young boy who had helped the crocodile when it was sick. As a result, the island is shaped like a crocodile and the boy's descendants are the native East Timorese who inhabit it. The phrase "leaving the crocodile" refers to the pained exile of East Timorese from their island.
There is also a strong tradition of poetry in the country. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, for example, is a distinguished poet, earning the moniker "poet warrior".
Architecturally, 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 ("legged houses") in Fataluku. Craftsmanship and the weaving of traditional scarves (tais) is also widespread.
An extensive collection of Timorese audiovisual material is held at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
The cuisine of East Timor consists of regional popular foods such as pork, fish, basil, tamarind, legumes, corn, rice, root vegetables, and tropical fruit. East Timorese cuisine has influences from Southeast Asian foods and from Portuguese dishes from its colonisation by Portugal. Flavours and ingredients from other former Portuguese colonies can be found due to the centuries-old Portuguese presence on the island.
East Timor Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.