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Timor-Leste (East & Southeast Asia)

Introduction ::Timor-Leste


The Portuguese began to trade with the island of Timor in the early 16th century and colonized it in mid-century. Skirmishing with the Dutch in the region eventually resulted in an 1859 treaty in which Portugal ceded the western portion of the island. Imperial Japan occupied Portuguese Timor from 1942 to 1945, but Portugal resumed colonial authority after the Japanese defeat in World War II. East Timor declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975 and was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. It was incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of Timor Timur (East Timor). An unsuccessful campaign of pacification followed over the next two decades, during which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals lost their lives. On 30 August 1999, in a UN-supervised popular referendum, an overwhelming majority of the people of Timor-Leste voted for independence from Indonesia. Between the referendum and the arrival of a multinational peacekeeping force in late September 1999, anti-independence Timorese militias - organized and supported by the Indonesian military - commenced a large-scale, scorched-earth campaign of retribution. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and forcibly pushed 300,000 people into western Timor as refugees. The majority of the country's infrastructure, including homes, irrigation systems, water supply systems, and schools, and nearly 100% of the country's electrical grid were destroyed. On 20 September 1999, the Australian-led peacekeeping troops of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) deployed to the country and brought the violence to an end. On 20 May 2002, Timor-Leste was internationally recognized as an independent state. In late April 2006, internal tensions threatened the new nation's security when a military strike led to violence and a near breakdown of law and order. At Dili's request, an Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) deployed to Timor-Leste in late May. In August, the UN Security Council established the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which included an authorized police presence of over 1,600 personnel. The ISF and UNMIT restored stability, allowing for presidential and parliamentary elections in April and June 2007 in a largely peaceful atmosphere. In February 2008, a rebel group staged an unsuccessful attack against the president and prime minister. The ringleader was killed in the attack and the majority of the rebels surrendered in April 2008. Since the unsuccessful attacks the government has enjoyed one of its longest periods of post-independence stability.

Geography ::Timor-Leste


Southeastern Asia, northwest of Australia in the Lesser Sunda
Islands at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago; note -
Timor-Leste includes the eastern half of the island of Timor, the
Oecussi (Ambeno) region on the northwest portion of the island of
Timor, and the islands of Pulau Atauro and Pulau Jaco

Geographic coordinates:
8 50 S, 125 55 E

Map references:

Southeast Asia


total: 14,874 sq km country comparison to the world: 159 land: 14,874 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly larger than Connecticut

Land boundaries:

total: 228 km

border countries: Indonesia 228 km


706 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical; hot, humid; distinct rainy and dry seasons



Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Timor Sea, Savu Sea, and Banda Sea 0 m

highest point: Foho Tatamailau 2,963 m

Natural resources:

gold, petroleum, natural gas, manganese, marble

Land use:

arable land: 8.2%

permanent crops: 4.57%

other: 87.23% (2005)

Irrigated land:

1,065 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

floods and landslides are common; earthquakes; tsunamis; tropical cyclones

Environment - current issues:

widespread use of slash and burn agriculture has led to deforestation and soil erosion

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

Timor comes from the Malay word for "East"; the island of Timor is part of the Malay Archipelago and is the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands

People ::Timor-Leste


1,154,625 country comparison to the world: 156 note: other estimates range as low as 800,000 (July 2010 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 34.7% (male 199,237/female 192,900)

15-64 years: 61.9% (male 356,772/female 344,103)

65 years and over: 3.4% (male 18,403/female 20,197) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 22.2 years

male: 22.2 years

female: 22.2 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.999% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 57

Birth rate:

25.93 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 57

Death rate:

5.93 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 168

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population country comparison to the world: 105


urban population: 27% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 39.32 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 68 male: 45.19 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 33.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 67.61 years country comparison to the world: 154 male: 65.23 years

female: 70.11 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.2 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 57

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: chikungunya, dengue fever and malaria (2009)


noun: Timorese

adjective: Timorese

Ethnic groups:

Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian), Papuan, small Chinese minority


Roman Catholic 98%, Muslim 1%, Protestant 1% (2005)


Tetum (official), Portuguese (official), Indonesian, English

note: there are about 16 indigenous languages; Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak are spoken by significant numbers of people


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 58.6%

male: NA

female: NA (2002)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 11 years (2002)

Education expenditures:

7.1% of GDP (2008) country comparison to the world: 20

Government ::Timor-Leste

Country name:

conventional long form: Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (pronounced TEE-mor LESS-tay)

conventional short form: Timor-Leste

local long form: Republika Demokratika Timor Lorosa'e [Tetum]; Republica Democratica de Timor-Leste [Portuguese]

local short form: Timor Lorosa'e [Tetum]; Timor-Leste [Portuguese]

former: East Timor, Portuguese Timor

Government type:



name: Dili

geographic coordinates: 8 35 S, 125 36 E

time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

13 administrative districts; Aileu, Ainaro, Baucau, Bobonaro
(Maliana), Cova-Lima (Suai), Dili, Ermera (Gleno), Lautem (Los
Palos), Liquica, Manatuto, Manufahi (Same), Oecussi (Ambeno),

note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)


28 November 1975 (independence proclaimed from Portugal); note - 20 May 2002 is the official date of international recognition of Timor-Leste's independence from Indonesia

National holiday:

Independence Day, 28 November (1975)


20 May 2002 (effective date)

Legal system:

On 29 March 2009 the president promulgated the Timor-Leste penal code; UN-drafted legal system based on Indonesian law remains in place for civil codes but is to be replaced by civil codes based on Portuguese law; these have passed but have not been promulgated; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


17 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Jose RAMOS-HORTA (since 20 May 2007); note - the president plays a largely symbolic role but is able to veto legislation, dissolve parliament, and call national elections

head of government: Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana GUSMAO (since 8 August 2007), note - he formerly used the name Jose Alexandre GUSMAO; Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis GUTERRES (since 8 August 2007)

cabinet: Council of Ministers (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 9 April 2007 with run-off on 8 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2012); following elections, president appoints leader of majority party or majority coalition as prime minister

election results: Jose RAMOS-HORTA elected president; percent of vote - Jose RAMOS-HORTA 69.2%, Francisco GUTTERES 30.8%

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Parliament (number of seats can vary from 52 to 65; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

elections: last held on 30 June 2007 (next elections due by June 2012)

election results: percent of vote by party - FRETILIN 29%, CNRT 24.1%, ASDT-PSD 15.8%, PD 11.3%, PUN 4.5%, KOTA-PPT (Democratic Alliance) 3.2%, UNDERTIM 3.2%, others 8.9%; seats by party - FRETILIN 21, CNRT 18, ASDT-PSD 11, PD 8, PUN 3, KOTA-PPT 2, UNDERTIM 2

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court of Justice - constitution calls for one judge to be
appointed by National Parliament and rest appointed by Superior
Council for Judiciary; note - until Supreme Court is established,
Court of Appeals is highest court

Political parties and leaders:

Democratic Party or PD [Fernando de ARAUJO]; National Congress for
Timorese Reconstruction or CNRT [Xanana GUSMAO]; National Democratic
Union of Timorese Resistance or UNDERTIM [Cornelio DA Conceicao
GAMA]; National Unity Party or PUN [Fernanda BORGES]; People's Party
of Timor or PPT [Jacob XAVIER]; Revolutionary Front of Independent
Timor-Leste or FRETILIN [Mari ALKATIRI]; Social Democratic
Association of Timor or ASDT [Francisco Xavier do AMARAL]; Social
Democratic Party or PSD [Zacarias Albano da COSTA]; Sons of the
Mountain Warriors or KOTA [Manuel TILMAN] (also known as Association
of Timorese Heroes)

Political pressure groups and leaders:

International organization participation:


Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Constancio da Conceicao PINTO

chancery: 4201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 504,Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 966-3202
FAX: [1] (202) 966-3205

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Judith FERGIN

embassy: Avenida de Portugal, Praia dos Conqueiros, Dili

mailing address: US Department of State, 8250 Dili Place, Washington, DC 20521-8250

telephone: (670) 332-4684
FAX: (670) 331-3206

Flag description:

red, with a black isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) superimposed on a slightly longer yellow arrowhead that extends to the center of the flag; a white star - pointing to the upper hoist-side corner of the flag - is in the center of the black triangle; yellow denotes the colonialism in Timor-Leste's past; black represents the obscurantism that needs to be overcome; red stands for the national liberation struggle; the white star symbolizes peace and serves as a guiding light

National anthem:

name: "Patria" (Fatherland)

lyrics/music: Fransisco Borja DA COSTA/Afonso DE ARAUJO

note: adopted 2002; the song was first used as an anthem when Timor-Leste declared its independence from Portugal in 1975; the lyricist, Fransisco Borja DA COSTA, was killed in an Indonesian invasion just days after independence was declared

Economy ::Timor-Leste

Economy - overview:

In late 1999, about 70% of the economic infrastructure of Timor-Leste was laid waste by Indonesian troops and anti-independence militias. Three hundred thousand people fled westward. Over the next three years a massive international program, manned by 5,000 peacekeepers (8,000 at peak) and 1,300 police officers, led to substantial reconstruction in both urban and rural areas. By the end of 2005, refugees had returned or had settled in Indonesia. The country continues to face great challenges in rebuilding its infrastructure, strengthening the civil administration, and generating jobs for young people entering the work force. The development of oil and gas resources in offshore waters has greatly supplemented government revenues. This technology-intensive industry, however, has done little to create jobs for the unemployed because there are no production facilities in Timor. Gas is piped to Australia. In June 2005, the National Parliament unanimously approved the creation of a Petroleum Fund to serve as a repository for all petroleum revenues and to preserve the value of Timor-Leste's petroleum wealth for future generations. The Fund held assets of US$5.3 billion as of October 2009. The economy has been little impacted by the global financial crisis and continues to recover strongly from the mid-2006 outbreak of violence and civil unrest, which disrupted both private and public sector economic activity. The government in 2008 resettled tens of thousands of an estimated 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs); most IDPs returned home by early 2009. The underlying economic policy challenge the country faces remains how best to use oil-and-gas wealth to lift the non-oil economy onto a higher growth path and to reduce poverty.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$3.004 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 176 $2.782 billion (2009 est.)

$2.588 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$616 million (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

8% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 11 7.5% (2009 est.)

12.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$2,600 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 172 $2,500 (2009 est.)

$2,300 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 32.2%

industry: 12.8%

services: 55% (2005)

Labor force:

414,200 (2007) country comparison to the world: 157

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 90%

industry: NA%

services: NA% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate:

20% (2006 est.) country comparison to the world: 166 note: data are for rural areas, unemployment rises to more than 40% among urban youth

Population below poverty line:

42% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.9%

highest 10%: 31.3% (2001)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

38 (2002 est.) country comparison to the world: 75

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

7.8% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 186

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

11.17% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 62 13.11% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$102.8 million (31 December 2008) country comparison to the world: 180 $74.94 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of broad money:

$268.4 million (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 179 $192.7 million (31 December 2008)

Stock of domestic credit:

$127.1 million (31 December 2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 178 $118.1 million (31 December 2007 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Agriculture - products:

coffee, rice, corn, cassava, sweet potatoes, soybeans, cabbage, mangoes, bananas, vanilla


printing, soap manufacturing, handicrafts, woven cloth

Industrial production growth rate:

8.5% (2004 est.) country comparison to the world: 24

Electricity - production:

NA kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - consumption:

NA kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production:

96,270 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 53

Oil - consumption:

2,500 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 182

Oil - exports:

100,900 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 66

Oil - proved reserves:

553.8 million bbl (1 January 2008) country comparison to the world: 46

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 120

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 171

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 110

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 125

Natural gas - proved reserves:

200 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.) country comparison to the world: 45

Current account balance:

$1.161 billion (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 44


$10 million (2005 est.); note - excludes oil country comparison to the world: 212

Exports - commodities:

coffee, sandalwood, marble; note - potential for oil and vanilla exports


$202 million (2004 est.) country comparison to the world: 200

Imports - commodities:

food, gasoline, kerosene, machinery

Exchange rates:

the US dollar is used

Communications ::Timor-Leste

Telephones - main lines in use:

2,400 (2009) country comparison to the world: 222

Telephones - mobile cellular:

116,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 183

Telephone system:

general assessment: rudimentary service limited to urban areas

domestic: system suffered significant damage during the violence associated with independence; extremely limited fixed-line services; mobile-cellular services and coverage limited primarily to urban areas

international: country code - 670; international service is available in major urban centers

Broadcast media:

1 public TV broadcast station broadcasting nationally and 1 public radio broadcaster with stations in each of the 13 administrative districts; a few commercial radio stations and roughly a dozen community radio stations (2009)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

206 (2010) country comparison to the world: 193

Internet users:

2,100 (2009) country comparison to the world: 210

Transportation ::Timor-Leste


6 (2010) country comparison to the world: 172

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 2 (2010)


8 (2010)


total: 6,040 km country comparison to the world: 149 paved: 2,600 km

unpaved: 3,440 km (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 1 country comparison to the world: 152 by type: passenger/cargo 1 (2010)

Ports and terminals:


Military ::Timor-Leste

Military branches:

Timor-Leste Defense Force (Forcas de Defesa de Timor-L'este,
Falintil (F-FDTL)): Army, Navy (Armada) (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 299,008

females age 16-49: 286,465 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 236,996

females age 16-49: 245,033 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 12,795

female: 12,443 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

Transnational Issues ::Timor-Leste

Disputes - international:

Timor-Leste-Indonesia Boundary Committee has resolved all but some sections of border along Timor-Leste's Oecussi exclave; maritime boundaries with Indonesia remain unresolved; many refugees who left Timor-Leste in 2003 still reside in Indonesia and refuse repatriation; in 2007, Australia and Timor-Leste signed a 50-year development zone and revenue sharing agreement in lieu of a maritime boundary

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

IDPs: 100,000 (2007)

Illicit drugs:



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