|Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Motto: "Unidade, Acção, Progresso" (Portuguese)
"Unidade, Asaun, Progresu" (Tetum)
"Unity, Action, Progress"
Anthem: Pátria (Portuguese)
and largest city
|Religion (2010)||96.9% Roman Catholic
3.1% other religions
|Demonym||East Timorese; Timorese|
|Government||Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic|
• Independence declared
|28 November 1975|
|17 July 1976|
• Independence restored
|20 May 2002|
|15,410 km2 (5,950 sq mi) (154th)|
• Water (%)
• 2015 census
|78/km2 (202.0/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||2017 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2014 estimate|
• Per capita
|HDI (2015)|| 0.605
medium · 133rd
|Currency||United States Dollarb (USD)|
|Drives on the||left|
|ISO 3166 code||TL|
East Timor (/ / ( listen)) or Timor-Leste (/ /; Tetum: Timór Lorosa'e), officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (Portuguese: República Democrática de Timor-Leste, Tetum: Repúblika Demokrátika Timór-Leste), is a sovereign state in Maritime 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 surrounded by Indonesian West Timor. Australia is the country's southern neighbor, separated by the Timor Sea. The country's size is about 15,410 km2 (5,400 sq mi).
East Timor was colonised by Portugal in the 16th century, and was known as Portuguese Timor until 28 November 1975, when the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) declared the territory's independence. Nine days later, it was invaded and occupied by Indonesia and was declared Indonesia's 27th province the following year. The Indonesian occupation of East Timor was characterised by a highly violent decades-long conflict between separatist groups (especially Fretilin) and the Indonesian military.
In 1999, following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory. East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on 20 May 2002 and joined the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. In 2011, East Timor announced its intention to gain membership status in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by applying to become its eleventh member. East Timor is part of a free trade zone, the Timor-Leste–Indonesia–Australia Growth Triangle (TIA-GT). It is one of only two predominantly Christian nations in Southeast Asia, the other being the Philippines.
"Timor" derives from timur, the word for "east" in Malay, which became recorded as Timor in Portuguese, thus resulting in the tautological toponym meaning "East East": In Portuguese Timor-Leste (Leste being the word for "east"); in Tetum Timór Lorosa'e (Lorosa'e being the word for "east" (literally "rising sun")). In Indonesian, the country is called Timor Timur, thus using the Portuguese name for the island followed by the word for "east", as adjectives in Indonesian are put after the noun.
The official names under the Constitution are Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in English, República Democrática de Timor-Leste in Portuguese and Repúblika Demokrátika Timór-Leste in Tetum.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) official short form in English and all other languages is Timor-Leste (codes: TLS & TL), which has been adopted by the United Nations, the European Union, and the national standards organisations of France (AFNOR), the United States (ANSI), United Kingdom (BSI), Germany (DIN), and Sweden (SIS), all diplomatic missions to the country by protocol and the CIA World Factbook.
Humans first settled in East Timor 42,000 years ago. Descendants of at least three waves of migration are believed still to live in East Timor. The first is described by anthropologists as people of the Veddo-Australoid type. Around 3000 BC, a second migration brought Melanesians. The earlier Veddo-Australoid peoples withdrew at this time to the mountainous interior. Finally, proto-Malays arrived from south China and north Indochina. Hakka traders are among those descended from this final group. Timorese origin myths tell of ancestors that sailed around the eastern end of Timor arriving on land in the south. Some stories recount Timorese ancestors journeying from the Malay Peninsula or the Minangkabau highlands of Sumatra. Austronesians migrated to Timor, and are thought to be associated with the development of agriculture on the island. Thirdly, Proto-Malays arrived from south China and north Indochina. Before European colonialism, Timor was included in Chinese and Indian trading networks, and in the 14th century was an exporter of aromatic sandalwood, slaves, honey, and wax. It was the relative abundance of sandalwood in Timor that attracted European explorers to the island in the early 16th century. During that time, European explorers reported that the island had a number of small chiefdoms or princedoms.
The Portuguese established outposts in Timor and Maluku. Effective European occupation of a small part of the territory began in 1769, when the city of Dili was founded and the colony of Portuguese Timor declared. A definitive border between the Dutch-colonised western half of the island and the Portuguese-colonised eastern half of the island was established by the Permanent Court of Arbitration of 1914, 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, with minimal investment in infrastructure, health, and education. Sandalwood remained the main export crop with coffee exports becoming significant in the mid-nineteenth century. As was often the case, Portuguese rule was generally neglectful but exploitative where it existed.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a faltering home economy prompted the Portuguese to extract greater wealth from its colonies, which was met with East Timorese resistance. During World War II, the Japanese occupied Dili, and the mountainous interior became the scene of a guerrilla campaign, known as the Battle of Timor. Waged by Allied forces and East Timorese volunteers against the Japanese, the struggle resulted in the deaths of between 40,000 and 70,000 East Timorese. The Japanese eventually drove the last of the Australian and Allied forces out. However, following the end of World War II and Japanese surrender, Portuguese control was reinstated.
Following the 1974 Portuguese revolution, Portugal effectively abandoned its colony on Timor and civil war between East Timorese political parties broke out in 1975.
The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) resisted a Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) coup attempt in August 1975, and unilaterally declared independence on 28 November 1975. Fearing a communist state within the Indonesian archipelago, the Indonesian military, with Australian, British, and US support, launched an invasion of East Timor in December 1975. Indonesia declared East Timor its 27th province on 17 July 1976. The UN Security Council opposed the invasion and the territory's nominal status in the UN remained as "non-self-governing territory under Portuguese administration".
Indonesia's occupation of East Timor was marked by violence and brutality. 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. The East Timorese guerrilla force (Forças Armadas da Libertação Nacional de Timor-Leste, Falintil) fought a campaign against the Indonesian forces from 1975 to 1999.
Following the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto, a UN-sponsored agreement between Indonesia and Portugal allowed for a UN-supervised popular referendum in August 1999. A clear vote for independence was met with a punitive campaign of violence by East Timorese pro-integration militia with the support of elements of the Indonesian military. With Indonesian permission, an Australian-led multi-national peacekeeping force was deployed until order was restored. In late 1999, the administration of East Timor was taken over by the UN through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). The INTERFET deployment ended in February 2000 with the transfer of military command to the UN.
On 30 August 2001, the East Timorese voted in their first election organised by the UN to elect members of the Constituent Assembly. On 22 March 2002, the Constituent Assembly approved the Constitution. By May 2002, over 205,000 refugees had returned. On 20 May 2002, the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor came into force and East Timor was recognised as independent by the UN. The Constituent Assembly was renamed the National Parliament and Xanana Gusmão was sworn in as the country's first President. On 27 September 2002, East Timor was renamed to Timor-Leste, using the Portuguese language, and was admitted as a member state by the UN.
The following year, Gusmão declined another presidential term, and in the build-up to the April 2007 presidential elections there were renewed outbreaks of violence. José Ramos-Horta was elected President in the May 2007 election, while Gusmão ran in the parliamentary elections and became Prime Minister. Ramos-Horta was critically injured in an attempted assassination in February 2008. Prime Minister Gusmão also faced gunfire separately but escaped unharmed. Australian reinforcements were immediately sent to help keep order. In 2006, the United Nations sent in security forces to restore order when unrest and factional fighting forced 15 percent of the population (155,000 people) to flee their homes. In March 2011, the UN handed over operational control of the police force to the East Timor authorities. The United Nations ended its peacekeeping mission on 31 December 2012.
Politics and government
The head of state of East Timor is the President of the Republic, who is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. Although their executive powers are somewhat limited, the President does have the power to appoint the Prime Minister and veto government legislation. Following elections, the President usually appoints the leader of the majority party or coalition as Prime Minister of East Timor and the cabinet on the proposal of the latter. As head of government, the Prime Minister presides over the cabinet.
The unicameral East 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. 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 include the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (police), East Timor Ministry for State and Internal Administration, Civil Aviation Division of Timor-Leste, and Immigration Department of Timor-Leste.
- Cova Lima
Foreign relations and military
East Timor sought membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2007, and a formal application was submitted in March 2011. Indonesia and the Philippines support East Timor's bid to join ASEAN.
The Timor Leste Defence Force (Forças de Defesa de Timor-Leste, F-FDTL) is the military body responsible for the defence of East Timor. The F-FDTL was established in February 2001 and comprised two small infantry battalions, a small naval component, and several supporting units.
The F-FDTL's primary role is to protect East Timor from external threats. It also has an internal security role, which overlaps with that of the National Police of East Timor (Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste, PNTL). This overlap has led to tensions between the services, which have been exacerbated by poor morale and lack of discipline within the F-FDTL.
The F-FDTL's problems came to a head in 2006 when almost half the force was dismissed following protests over discrimination and poor conditions. The dismissal contributed to a general collapse of both the F-FDTL and PNTL in May and forced the government to request foreign peacekeepers to restore security. The F-FDTL is being rebuilt with foreign assistance and has drawn up a long-term force development plan.
Since the discovery of petroleum in the Timor Sea in the 1970s, there have been disputes surrounding the rights to ownership and exploitation of the resources situated in a part of the Timor Sea known as the Timor Gap, which is the area of the Timor Sea which lies outside the territorial boundaries of the nations to the north and south of the Timor Sea. These disagreements initially involved Australia and Indonesia, although a resolution was eventually reached in the form of the Timor Gap Treaty. After declaration of East Timor's nationhood in 1999, the terms of the Timor Gap Treaty were abandoned and negotiations commenced between Australia and East Timor, culminating in the Timor Sea Treaty.
Australia's territorial claim extends to the bathymetric axis (the line of greatest sea-bed depth) at the Timor Trough. It overlaps East Timor's own territorial claim, which follows the former colonial power Portugal and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in claiming that the dividing line should be midway between the two countries.
It was revealed in 2013 that the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) planted listening devices to listen to East Timor during negotiations over the Greater Sunrise oil and gasfields. This is known as the Australia–East Timor spying scandal.
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.
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 the Australia-bound 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 (84,000), 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.