East Timor () or Timor-Leste (; tet, Timór Lorosa'e), officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste ( pt, República Democrática de Timor-Leste, tet, Repúblika Demokrátika Timór-Leste), is an
island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citizenship. A country may be an indepen ...
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions that are geographically south of China, east of the Indian subcontinent and north-west o ...

Southeast Asia
. It comprises the eastern half of the island of
Timor Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia, in the north of the Timor Sea. The island is divided between the sovereign states of East Timor East Timor () or Timor-Leste (; tet, Timór Lorosa'e), officially the ...
, the nearby islands of Atauro and
, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island surrounded by
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of more than List of islands ...

n West Timor.
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, smal ...

is the country's southern neighbour, separated by the
Timor Sea The Timor Sea ( id, Laut Timor; pt, Mar de Timor; tet, Tasi Mane or ''Tasi Timór'') is a relatively shallow sea bounded to the north by the island of Timor, to the east by the Arafura Sea, to the south by Australia. The sea contains a number ...

Timor Sea
. The country's size is about . East Timor was colonised by
Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in Southern Europe, southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state in mainland Europe, being ...
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 the Indonesian military; it 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. As ''Timor-Leste'', it became the first new list of sovereign states, 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 Accession of East Timor to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, intention to become the eleventh member of the ASEAN, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is one of only two predominantly Christianity in Asia, Christian nations in
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions that are geographically south of China, east of the Indian subcontinent and north-west o ...

Southeast Asia
, the other being the Philippines, as well as the only country of Asia to be located completely in the Southern Hemisphere.


"Timor" is derived from ''timur'', the word for "east" in Malay language, Malay, which became recorded as ''Timor'' in Portuguese language, Portuguese, thus resulting in the List of tautological place names, 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'', thereby 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) ISO 3166-1, 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 Group, BSI), Germany (DIN), and Sweden (Swedish Standards Institute, SIS), all diplomatic missions to the country by protocol and the CIA World Factbook.



Cultural remains at Jerimalai on the eastern tip of East Timor have been dated to 42,000 years ago, making that location one of the oldest known sites of modern human activity in Maritime Southeast Asia. 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 Vedda people, 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 who 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 people, Minangkabau highlands of Sumatra. Austronesian peoples, Austronesians migrated to Timor, and are thought to be associated with the development of agriculture on the island.

Classical era

Pre-colonial Timor (pre-1515), Before European colonialism, Timor was included in Indonesian/Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian trading networks, and in the 14th century was an exporter of aromatic sandalwood, slaves, honey, and wax. From the 1500s, the Timorese people had military ties with the Luções of present-day northern Philippines. It was the relative abundance of sandalwood on Timor that attracted European explorers to the island in the early 16th century. At around that time, European explorers reported that the island had a number of small chiefdoms or princedoms.

Colonial era

Portuguese period (1769–1975)

The Portuguese established outposts in
Timor Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia, in the north of the Timor Sea. The island is divided between the sovereign states of East Timor East Timor () or Timor-Leste (; tet, Timór Lorosa'e), officially the ...
and Maluku Islands, Maluku. Effective European occupation of a small part of present-day East Timor began in 1769 when the city of Dili was founded and the colony of Portuguese Timor declared. A definitive East Timor–Indonesia border, border between the Dutch-colonised western half of the island and the Portuguese-colonised eastern half was established by the Permanent Court of Arbitration of 1914, and it remains the international boundary between the successor states Indonesia and East Timor, respectively. 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 continued to be the main export crop with coffee exports becoming significant in the mid-nineteenth century. 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. Portuguese Timor had been a place of exile for political and social opponents deported from the metropolis since the late nineteenth century. Among them a large proportion were members of the anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movement, which until the Second World War was the most influential of the left-wing movements in Portugal. The main waves of deportations to Timor were in 1896, 1927, and 1931. Some of the activists continued their resistance even in exile. After World War II, the remaining exiles were pardoned and allowed to return. During World War II, first the Allies of World War II, Allies and later the Empire of Japan, Japanese occupied Dili, and the mountainous interior of the colony became the scene of a guerrilla warfare, guerrilla campaign, known as the Battle of Timor (1942–43), Battle of Timor. Waged by East Timorese volunteers and Allied forces against the Japanese, the struggle resulted in the deaths of between 40,000 and 70,000 East Timorese civilians. Access date: 3 January 2007. The Japanese eventually drove the last of the Australian and Allied forces out. However, Portuguese control was reinstated after the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. Following the Carnation Revolution, 1974 Portuguese revolution, Portugal effectively abandoned its colony in Timor and civil war between East Timorese political parties broke out in 1975. Fretilin, The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) resisted a Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) coup attempt in August 1975, and East Timorese declaration of independence, unilaterally declared independence on 28 November 1975. Fearing a communist state within the Indonesian archipelago, the Indonesian military launched an Indonesian invasion of East Timor, invasion of East Timor in December 1975. Indonesia declared East Timor (Indonesian province), 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".

Indonesian occupation (1975–1999)

Indonesian occupation of East Timor, 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 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, with an estimated figure based on Portuguese, Indonesian and Catholic Church data of approximately 200,000 deaths. The East Timorese guerrilla force (Forças Armadas da Libertação Nacional de Timor-Leste, Falintil) fought a campaign against the Indonesian forces from 1975 to 1998. The 1991 Dili Massacre was a turning point for the independence cause and an East Timor solidarity movement grew in Portugal, the Philippines, Australia, and other Western countries. Following the Fall of Suharto, resignation of Indonesian President Suharto, an UN-sponsored agreement between Indonesia and Portugal allowed for an UN-supervised popular East Timorese independence referendum, 1999, referendum in August 1999. A clear vote for independence was met with a 1999 East Timorese crisis, punitive campaign of violence by East Timorese pro-Indonesia militia, pro-integration militia supported by elements of the Indonesian military. This allowed the sending of the multinational peacekeeping force, International Force East Timor, INTERFET, which was formed by Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and New Zealand, with aid from the United States, to restore order and aid East Timorese refugees and internally-displaced persons. On 25 October 1999, the administration of East Timor was taken over by the UN through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), headed by Sergio Vieira de Mello. The INTERFET deployment ended in February 2000 with the transfer of military command to the UN.

Contemporary era

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 after Indonesian occupation. On 27 September 2002, East Timor was renamed Timor-Leste, using the Portuguese language, and was admitted as a member state by the UN. 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. The following year, Gusmão declined another presidential term, and in the build-up to the East Timorese presidential election, 2007, mid-year presidential elections there were renewed outbreaks of violence. In those elections, José Ramos-Horta was elected President of East Timor, President. In June 2007, Gusmão ran in the East Timorese parliamentary election, 2007, parliamentary elections and became Prime Minister. In February 2008, Ramos-Horta was critically injured in 2008 East Timor coup attempt, an attempted assassination. Prime Minister Gusmão also faced gunfire separately but escaped unharmed. Australian reinforcements were immediately sent to help keep order. 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. East Timor became a state party to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention on 31 January 2017.

Politics and government

The head of state of East Timor is the President of East Timor, President of the Republic, who is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. Although the President's executive powers are somewhat limited, he or she 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 (East Timor), National Parliament or ''Parlamento Nacional'', the members of which 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.

Law enforcement

The National Police of East Timor or PNTL is the national police force of East Timor, established in May 2002 by the United Nations, before sovereignty was passed to the new state, with a mandate to provide security and maintain law and order throughout the country, and to enable the rapid development of a credible, professional and impartial police service.

Administrative divisions

East Timor is divided into thirteen municipalities, which in turn are subdivided into 65 administrative posts, 442 ''sucos'' (villages), and 2,225 ''aldeias'' (hamlets). # Oecusse # Liquiçá Municipality, Liquiçá # Dili Municipality, Dili # Manatuto Municipality, Manatuto # Baucau Municipality, Baucau # Lautém Municipality, Lautém # Bobonaro Municipality, Bobonaro # Ermera Municipality, Ermera # Aileu Municipality, Aileu # Viqueque Municipality, Viqueque # Cova Lima Municipality, Cova Lima # Ainaro Municipality, Ainaro # Manufahi Municipality, Manufahi Articles 5 and 71 of the 2002 constitution provide that Oecusse be governed by a special administrative policy and economic regime. Law 3/2014 of 18 June 2014 created the Special Administrative Region of Oe-Cusse Ambeno (Região Administrativa Especial de Oecusse, RAEOA).

Foreign relations and military

East Timor is a full member state of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), also known as the Lusophone Commonwealth, an international organisation and political association of Lusophone nations across four continents. In each of those nations, Portuguese language, Portuguese is an official language. East Timor sought membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2007, and a formal application was submitted in March 2011. The East Timor Defence Force (''Forças de Defesa de Timor-Leste'', F-FDTL) is the Armed forces, 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. 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 2006 East Timorese crisis, 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 the 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 extended to the bathymetric axis (the line of greatest sea-bed depth) at the Timor Trough. It overlapped East Timor's own territorial claim, which followed the former colonial power
Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in Southern Europe, southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state in mainland Europe, being ...
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 the East Timorese government during negotiations over the Greater Sunrise oil and gas fields. This is known as the Australia–East Timor spying scandal.


Located in between Southeast Asia and Oceania, the island of
Timor Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia, in the north of the Timor Sea. The island is divided between the sovereign states of East Timor East Timor () or Timor-Leste (; tet, Timór Lorosa'e), officially the ...
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 The Timor Sea ( id, Laut Timor; pt, Mar de Timor; tet, Tasi Mane or ''Tasi Timór'') is a relatively shallow sea bounded to the north by the island of Timor, to the east by the Arafura Sea, to the south by Australia. The sea contains a number ...

Timor Sea
separates the island from
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, smal ...

to the south, and the Provinces of Indonesia, Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara lies to East Timor's west. The total land size is . East Timor has an exclusive economic zone of . Much of the country is mountainous, and its highest point is Tatamailau (also known as Mount Ramelau) at . 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 8th parallel south, 8° and 10th parallel south, 10°S, and longitudes 124th meridian east, 124° and 128th meridian east, 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 is home to the Timor and Wetar deciduous forests ecoregion. It had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 7.11/10, ranking it 57th globally out of 172 countries.


The economy of East Timor is a market economy, which used to depend upon exports of a few commodities such as coffee, marble, petroleum, and sandalwood. It 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 been spent on the development of villages, which still rely on subsistence farming. , nearly half the East Timorese population was living 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 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 increase significantly after its cancellation of a controversial agreement with Australia, which gave Australia half of the income from oil and gas from 2006. The country's 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 East Timor's active population. In 2009, about 67,000 households grew coffee in East Timor, with a large proportion of those households being poor. Currently, the gross margins are about $120 per hectare, with returns per labour-day of about $3.70. There were 11,000 households growing Mung bean, mungbeans as of 2009, most of them by subsistence farming. In the Ease of doing business index, Doing Business 2013 report by the World Bank, East Timor was ranked 169th overall and last in the East Asia and Pacific region. 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. In the 2014 NRI ranking, East Timor ranked number 141 overall, 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 Australian Dollar, 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 Covert listening device, bugging the East Timorese cabinet room in Dili in 2004. East Timor is part of the Timor Leste–Indonesia–Australia Growth Triangle (TIA-GT). There are no Patent, patent laws in East Timor. A railway system has been proposed but the current government has yet to approve the proposal due to lack of funds and expertise.


Tourism is still of minor importance in East Timor. In 2017, the country was visited by 75,000 tourists. In the last five years tourism has been increasing and the number of hotels and resorts has increased. The government decided to invest in the expansion of the international airport in Dili. The risk for tourists in East Timor is medium/low, with positive factors being a low crime, the occurrence of zero terrorist attacks in the last decades and road safety. Negative factors for tourists include roads in poor condition, mainly in the interior of the country.


File:East Timor demographic change.png, East Timor demographic change between 1861 and 2010. East Timor recorded a population of 1,183,643 in its 2015 census. The CIA's World Factbook lists the English-language demonym for East Timor 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, the largest Malayo-Polynesian ethnic groups are the Tetum (100,000), primarily in the north coast and around Dili; the Mambai people (Timor), 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 people, 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 language, 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 overseas Chinese, Chinese minority, most of whom are Hakka people#East Timor, Hakka. Many Chinese left in the mid-1970s.


East Timor's two official languages are Portuguese language, Portuguese and Tetum language, Tetum. English language, English and Indonesian language, Indonesian are sometimes used. Tetum belongs to the Austronesian languages, Austronesian family of languages spoken throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The 2015 census found that the most commonly spoken mother tongues were Tetum language, Tetum Prasa (mother tongue for 30.6% of the population), Mambai language (Timor), Mambai (16.6%), Makasai (10.5%), Tetum language, Tetum Terik (6.05%), Baikenu (5.87%), Kemak language, Kemak (5.85%), Bunak language, Bunak (5.48%), Tokodede (3.97%), and Fataluku language, Fataluku (3.52%). Other indigenous languages accounted for 10.47%, while 1.09% of the population spoke foreign languages natively. Under Indonesian occupation of East Timor, Indonesian rule, the use of Portuguese language, Portuguese was banned and only Indonesian language, 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. According to the observatory of the Portuguese language, the East Timorese literacy rate was 77.8% in Tetum, 55.6% in Indonesian, and 39.3% in Portuguese, and that the primary literacy rate increased from 73% in 2009 to 83% in 2012. Indonesian and English are defined as working languages under the Constitution in the Final and Transitional Provisions, without setting a final date. In 2012, 35% could speak, read, and write Portuguese, which is up significantly from less than 5% in the 2006 UN Development Report. Portuguese is recovering as it is now been made the main official language of Timor, and is being taught in most schools. It is estimated that English is understood by 31.4% of the population. East Timor is a member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (also known as the Lusophone Commonwealth) and of the Latin Union. Aside from Tetum, Ethnologue lists the following indigenous languages: Adabe language, Adabe, Baikeno, Bunak, Fataluku, Galoli language, Galoli, Habun language, Habun, Idaté, Kairui-Midiki language, Kairui-Midiki, Kemak, Lakalei language, Lakalei, Makasae, Makuv'a, Mambae, Nauete language, Nauete, Tukudede, and Waima'a language, Waima'a. According to the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, there are six endangered languages in East Timor: Adabe, Habu language, Habu, Kairui-Midiki, Maku'a language, Maku'a, Naueti language, Naueti, and Waima'a language, Waima'a.


East Timor's adult literacy rate in 2010 was 58.3%, up from 37.6% in 2001. At the end of Portuguese rule, literacy was at 5%. The country's main university is the National University of East Timor. There are also four colleges. Since independence, both Indonesian language, Indonesian and Tetum have lost ground as Medium of instruction, media of instruction, while Portuguese language, 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 Portuguese was used by most schools in Baucau District, Baucau, Manatuto District, Manatuto, as well as the capital district. The Philippines has sent Filipino teachers to East Timor to teach English language, English, so as to facilitate a program between the two countries, under which deserving East Timorese nationals with English language skills will be granted university scholarships in the Philippines.


See Health in East Timor


According to the 2015 census, 97.57% of the population is Roman Catholic; 1.96% Protestant; 0.24% Muslim; 0.08% Traditional; 0.05% Buddhist; 0.02% Hindu, and 0.08% other religions. A 2016 survey conducted by the Demographic and Health Survey programme showed that Catholics made up 98.3% of the population, Protestants 1.2%, and Muslims 0.3%. The number of churches has grown from 100 in 1974 to over 800 in 1994,Robinson, G. ''If you leave us here, we will die'', Princeton University Press 2010, p. 72. with Church membership having grown considerably under
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of more than List of islands ...

n rule as ''Pancasila Indonesia, 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 Constitution of Indonesia, Indonesia's constitutional monotheism, resulting in mass conversions to Christianity. Portuguese clergy were replaced with Indonesian priests and Latin language, Latin and Portuguese language, Portuguese Mass in the Catholic Church, mass was replaced by Indonesian language, 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 Religious syncretism, syncretised with local animist beliefs. With over 95% Catholic population, East Timor is currently the second Catholic Church by country, most densely Catholic country in the world, after the Vatican City, Vatican. The number of Protestants and Muslims declined significantly after September 1999 because these groups were disproportionately represented among supporters of integration with
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of more than List of islands ...

and among the Indonesian civil servants assigned to work in the province from other parts of Indonesia, many of whom left the country in 1999.International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Timor-Leste
United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (14 September 2007). ''This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.''
There are also small Protestant and Muslim communities. The Indonesian National Armed Forces, Indonesian military forces formerly stationed in the country included a significant number of Protestants, who played a major role in establishing Protestant churches in the territory. Fewer than half of those congregations existed after September 1999, and many Protestants were among those who remained in West Timor. The Assemblies of God is the largest and most active of the Protestant denominations. 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 List of Roman Catholic dioceses in East Timor, three dioceses: the Roman Catholic Diocese of Díli, Diocese of Díli, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baucau, Diocese of Baucau, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maliana, Diocese of Maliana.


The culture of East Timor reflects numerous influences, including Portuguese, Roman Catholic and Indonesian, on Timor's Indigenous peoples, indigenous Austronesian people, Austronesian and Melanesian cultures. East Timorese culture is heavily influenced by Austronesian legends. For example, East Timorese creation myth has it that an ageing crocodile transformed into the island of Timor as part of 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. East Timor is currently finalising its dossiers needed for nominations in the UNESCO World Heritage List, UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, UNESCO Creative Cities Network, UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Network. The country currently has one document in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, namely, ''On the Birth of a Nation: Turning points''.


There is a strong tradition of poetry in the country. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, for example, is a distinguished poet, earning the moniker "poet warrior". Architecturally, buildings are often Portuguese style 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, National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. These holdings have been identified in a document titled The NFSA Timor-Leste Collection Profile, which features catalogue entries and essays for a total of 795 NFSA-held moving images, recorded sound and documentation works that have captured the history and culture of East Timor since the early 20th century. The NFSA is working with the East Timorese government to ensure that all of this material can be used and accessed by the people of that country.

Cinema and TV drama

In 2009 and 2010, East Timor was the setting for the Australian film ''Balibo (film), Balibo'' and the South Korean film ''A Barefoot Dream''. In 2013, the first East Timorese feature film, ''Beatriz's War'', was released. Two further feature-length films, ''Abdul & José'' and ''Ema Nudar Umanu'', were respectively released on 30 July 2017 through the television network of East Timor Broadcasting Service, RTTL and on 16 August 2018 at the Melbourne International Film Festival. In 2010, the first East Timorese TV drama, ''Suku Hali'' was released.


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 cuisine and from Portuguese cuisine, 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. Due to the East and West combination of East Timor's cuisine, it developed features related to Filipino cuisine, which also experienced an east–west culinary combination.


Sports organisations joined by East Timor include the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the International Badminton Federation (IBF), the Union Cycliste Internationale, the International Weightlifting Federation, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), and East Timor national football team, East Timor's national football team joined FIFA. East Timorese athletes competed in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games held 2003. In the 2003 ASEAN Paralympics Games, East Timor won a bronze medal. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, Athens 2004 Olympic Games, East Timorese athletes participated in athletics, weightlifting and boxing. East Timor East Timor at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, won three medals in Arnis at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. East Timor competed in the 2006 Lusophony Games, first Lusophony Games and, in October 2008, the country earned its first international points in a FIFA football match with a 2–2 draw against Cambodia. East Timor competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Thomas Americo was the first East Timorese fighter to fight for a world boxing title. He was murdered in 1999, shortly before the Indonesian occupation of East Timor ended.

See also

* Outline of East Timor * Index of East Timor-related articles *List of heads of state of East Timor



* Cashmore, Ellis (1988). ''Dictionary of Race and Ethnic Relations''. New York: Routledge. * Charny, Israel W. ''Encyclopedia of Genocide Volume I''. Denver: Abc Clio. * * * * Gunn, Geoffrey C. (1999), Timor Loro Sae: 500 years. Macau: Livros do Oriente.

* * Hägerdal, Hans (2012), ''Lords of the Land, Lords of the Sea; Conflict and Adaptation in Early Colonial Timor, 1600–1800.'
* * * * 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. . *
''East Timor: a bibliography''
a bibliographic reference, Jean Berlie, Jean A. Berlie, launched by PM Xanana Gusmão, Indes Savantes editor, Paris, France, published in 2001. , .
''East Timor, politics and elections'' (in Chinese)/ 东帝汶政治与选举 (2001–2006): 国家建设及前景展望
Jean Berlie, Jean A. Berlie, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies of Jinan University editor, Jinan, China, published in 2007. * Mats Lundahl and Fredrik Sjöholm. 2019. The Creation of the East Timorese Economy. Springer.

External links

Timor-Leste official government website

Timor-Leste official tourism website

General information
''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency.
East Timor
from ''UCB Libraries GovPubs'' *
East Timor
at ''Encyclopædia Britannica''
East Timor profile
BBC News *
Key Development Forecasts for Timor-Leste
from International Futures
Timor Leste Studies Association
{{Authority control East Timor, Timor, * 1975 establishments in Asia 2002 establishments in Asia Countries in Asia Island countries of the Indian Ocean Island countries Former Portuguese colonies Least developed countries Maritime Southeast Asia Member states of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries Member states of the United Nations Members of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization Portuguese-speaking countries and territories Republics Small Island Developing States Southeast Asian countries States and territories established in 1975 States and territories established in 2002 Malay-speaking countries and territories