OFFICIAL NAME: Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Republic
AREA: 14,605 Sq Km (5640 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2007 POPULATION: 1,016,600
LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY: East Timor is located on the eastern
half of the island of Timor, the largest and easternmost
of the Lesser Sunda Islands of the Malay Archipelago, about
640 km (400 miles) northwest of Darwin, Australia. It is
bound by the Ombai Strait and Wetar Strait to the north,
the Timor Sea to the south and Indonesia to the north as
well as west. The territory consists of the nearby islands
of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecussi-Ambeno, an exclave on the
northwestern side of the island which is surrounded by Indonesian
West Timor. Along the northern coastal region a mountainous
terrain dominates whilst along the southern coastal plain
on the Timor Sea, swamps and river deltas feature prominently.
The highest point of East Timor is Mount Ramelau (also known
as Mount Tatamailau) at 2,963 metres (9,721 feet). Major
Cities (pop. est.); Dili 48,200, Dare 17,100, Baucau 14,200,
Maliana 12,300, Emera 12,000 (2000). Land Use; forested
34%, pastures 10%, agricultural-cultivated 5.5%, other 50.5%
CLIMATE: East Timor has a tropical climate characterized
by a distinct wet and dry season determined by monsoon influences.
There are three climatic zones, the northern zone in which
the dry season occurs for five months, a mountainous zone
where the dry season lasts for four months and the southern
coastal zone which has a dry season of less that 3 months
due to the influence of prevailing winds from Australia.
During the wet season between November to May, the northeast
monsoon winds bring thunderstorms and heavy rains, while
the mountainous and southern coastal zones have higher rainfall
and are therefore wetter than the northern zone. Average
annual temperatures for the northern zone are 22 degrees
Celsius (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit), about 24 degrees Celsius
(75 degrees Fahrenheit) in the mountainous zone and generally
above 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) in the
southern coastal zone.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the East
Timorese who account for approx 80% of the population whilst
the remainder are Indonesian, mostly West Timorese.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 67 persons
per sq km (173 persons per sq mi) (2005). Urban-Rural; 7.6%
urban, 92.4% rural (2003). Sex Distribution; 50.6% male,
49.4% female (2004). Life Expectancy at Birth; 63.3 years
male, 67.9 years female (2004). Age Breakdown; 38% under
15, 27% 15 to 29, 19% 30 to 44, 11% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 74,
1% 75 and over (2004). Birth Rate; 27.5 per 1,000 (2004).
Death Rate; 6.4 per 1,000 (2004). Increase Rate; 21.1 per
1,000 (2004). Infant Mortality Rate; 48.9 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians, of which approx 87%
are Roman Catholic and approx 5% are Protestant. Other minorities
include approximately 3% Muslim, 3% traditional beliefs
whilst the remainder have other beliefs.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are Portuguese
and Tetum, an Austronesian creole influenced by Portuguese.
English and Indonesian are considered working languages.
There are also around 16 other indigenous languages spoken.
EDUCATION: Aged 15 or over and having attained:
no formal schooling 54.3%, some primary 14.4%, complete
primary 6.2%, lower secondary 10.4%, upper secondary and
higher 14.7% (2002). Literacy; literate population aged
15 or over 58.6% (2002).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 2004: From the beginning
of the 18th century East Timor had been under Portuguese
colonial rule. In 1974 a move towards decolonialization
started. In August 1975 a civil war broke out and led to
the declaration of independence by the Frente Revolucionaria
de Timor Leste (Fretlin) on 17th Nov 1975. On Dec 7. 1975
Indonesian forces invaded East Timor and the territory was
incorporated as Indonesia's 27th Province in July 1976.
Indonesia's claim to East Timor was never officially recognized
by the UN, which regarded Portugal as the legal administrative
power, while Fretlin guerrilla groups continued to wage
an insurgent "reign of terror" against the Indonesian-aligned
political parties. In Dec. 1989 Indonesia and Australia
signed the Timor Gap Agreement which allowed for the sharing
of oil and gas reserves. In 1990 Indonesia and Portugal
agreed for a Portuguese parliamentary delegation to visit
East Timor in an attempt to end the long dispute. The cancellation
of the visit, was followed by protests and on 12th Nov.
1991 the East Timorese Fretlin's claims for independence
reached a climax that resulted in Indonesian troops opening
fire on mourners of a pro-independence militant's funeral
in which an estimated 180 civilians were killed. The massacre
brought worldwide condemnation of Indonesia and the East
Timor-Indonesia issue, which was first raised when the Fretlin
declared Timor's independence in Nov. 1975. As a response
to the international political pressure the Indonesian government
setup a judicial inquiry into the massacre. The report of
inquiry condemned the actions of the military, although
they received light sentences or were disciplined and the
officer in charge was transferred. This was in contrast
to the ten (10) year or more sentences imposed on the East
Timorese protestors. In 1993 the Fretlin leader Jose Alexandre
'Xanana' Gusmao and his deputy Antonio Gomes da Costa were
captured and imprisoned, however the Fretlin insurgency
continued its guerilla campaign under the new leadership
of Konis Santana. In January 1995 the Portuguese government
took Australia to the International Court in the Hague,
Netherlands demanding that the 1989 Timor Gap Treaty be
declared null and void. In March 1996 Portugal's PM Guterres
had a meeting between Indonesia's Pres. Suharto and offered
to upgrade their bilateral relationship and to cease blocking
EU development loans in return for Xanana Gusmao, which
was rejected by Pres. Suharto. Also in 1996, both Bishop
Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo and exiled Fretlin leader Jose
Ramas Horta received the Nobel Prize for Peace. In June
1997 violence again flared after Fretlin had killed 17 police
and army personnel following national elections. The Indonesian
military responded in late June, killing Fretlin leader
David Alex. In 1998 BJ Habibe succeeded Suharto as President
of Indonesia, which raise the hope for many Fretlin leaders
that this replacement would lead to Indonesia's softening
on the position of East Timorese self-determination. On
30th August 1999 a referendum was held in which 78% of the
voters supported full independence over a greater degree
of autonomy within Indonesia. Following the referendum Dili
was plunged into violence, looting and arson led by the
anti-indepedence militia. Within three weeks every key building
in Dili had been destroyed and the Indonesian military weren't
prepared to restore order. As a result the UN pressured
Indonesia to accept a 7500-strong peace-keeping force led
by the Australian Army. On July 15th 2000, a new provisional
government has been established with four cabinet positions
held by East Timorese and four held by officials of the
UN Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET).
In Sept. 2000, three UNHCR workers were killed by pro-indonesian
militia at Atambura refugee camp. On Oct. 19th 2000, Jose
Ramos Horte was sworn in as Foreign Minister within the
Cabinet and Xanana Gusmao, leader of the National Council
of East Timorese Resistance (CNRT) was elected President
of the a new UN appointed legislature. The new legislature,
the National Council, comprised representatives from each
of East Timor's 13 districts and from 12 political groups.
The objective of the National Council was to approve legislation
for the drafting of a constitution for East Timor. In Oct.
2000 Australia and UNTAET began a first round of talks to
re-negotiate the Timor Gap Treaty. In Nov. 2000 an announcement
was made to establish a defence force with the assistance
of 12 countries, including Australia, Portugal and the USA.
On 3rd July 2001, Australia and East Timor signed a new
Timor Gap Treaty that gave a 90% share of revenues from
the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA), however issues
remained unresolved over resources outside the JPDA and
permanent maritime boundary delimitations. On 4th May 2001,
an Indonesian court sentenced six former pro-indonesian
militia members to 10-20 months for the murder of the UNHCR
workers in Sept . 2000. Subsequently, their sentences were
increased to 5-7 years. On 30th August 2001 93% of registered
voters turned out to elect an 88-member Constituent Assembly,
which was responsible for the drafting of a constitution
in preparation for full independence scheduled for 2002.
Of the 88 seats, 13 were representatives of the 13 districts,
while the remaining 75 seats were to be chosen by proportional
representation. The Fretlin Party won 55 of the 88 seats
in the Assembly and Mari Alkatiri as it's leader. On 21st
January 2002, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was
established to investigate the truth about human rights
abuses committed between 1974 to 1999. Mid-March 2002, the
Assembly ratified a draft constitution and announced that
the Constituent Assembly would become the new Parliament
following independence. On April 14th 2002, former guerrilla
leader Xanana Gusmao defeated Francisco Xavier Do Amaral
in Presidential Election and was subsequently inaugurated
as East Timor's first President. On 20th May 2002, East
Timor gained full independence. In Nov. 2002 a series of
government protests led to one person being killed with
several injured following unrest among former Falantil,
the official resistance army, over unemployment. On Dec.
2nd 2002, Student protests over the pace of progress led
to riots that resulted in two deaths and several key buildings
being destroyed. In March 2003, the Australian and East
Timorese governments signed a International Unitization
Agreement (IUA) for a group of gas fields known as Greater
Sunrise. In April 2003, eight opposition parties formed
a united platform of unity led by the Democratic Party in
an attempt to present an alternative to PM Alkatiri's Fretlin-led
government. On 10th June 2003 PM Alkatiri undertook the
first official visit to Indonesia. In Sept. 2003 the UN
World Food program announced emergency food relief aid for
110,000 people affect by a two year drought. In Oct. 2003
the UN handed over the control of the West Timor border
crossing to the East Timorese government. Further talks
on 12th Nov. 2003 in Darwin, Australia and 20th April 2004
in Dili were held in a attempt to settle the issue of disputed
boundaries. In 2004 a UN-funded Special Panel for Serious
Crimes (SPSC) moved to clear up the backlog of cases following
the 1999 referendum. In Jan. 2004 East Timorese prosecutors
were reported to have sought an arrest warrant for Indonesian
Armed Forces chief General Wiranto, although later Pres.
Gusmao held a widely-publicized reconciliation meeting with
him in Bali. In April 2004 Indonesian Supreme Court upheld
the sentence imposed on Jakata's last appointed East Timorese
governor, Jose Abilio Osorio. On April 9th 2004, sixteen
former Indonesian soldiers and administrators were indicted
for crimes against humanity. The next day, five more soldiers
were indicted for rape and torture during the 1999 violence.
On 20th May 2004, East Timor took over full responsibility
for internal security with the new East Timor Police (PNTL)
replacing the UNMISET Police Forces. In Aug. 2004 the Indonesian
High Court quashed the sentences of all Indonesian defendants
sentenced in 2001. By Oct. 2004, the SPSC had convicted
thirty-five people for crimes, although many were living
in Indonesia which refused to extradite them. In Nov 2004.
the Indonesian High Court also released Jose Abilio Osorio,
the Jakarta-appointed governor sentenced for 3 years for
failing to stop the bloodshed in East Timor following the
1999 referendum. In late 2004 talks between East Timor and
Australia broke down over the permanent delineation of the
maritime boundary of the Timor Gap Treaty. And East Timor's
PM Mari Alkatiri subsequently demanded some USD $2.6 Billion
in compensation from Australia over lost royalties since
CURRENCY: The official currency is the US Dollar (USD) divided
into 100 Cents.
ECONOMY: Gross Domestic Product; USD $328,000,000
(2004). Public Debt; n/a (2003). Imports; USD $146,100,000
(2004). Exports; USD $6,972,000 (2004). Tourism Receipts;
n/a (2003). Balance of Trade; USD -$139,000,000 (2004).
Economically Active Population; 232,000 or 28% of total
population (2001). Unemployed; n/a (2001).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners
are Indonesia, Australia, Portugal, Japan, Singapore and
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Fish, Wood, Maize, Rice, Cassava,
Sweet Potatoes, Coffee, Coconuts, Livestock.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Fishing, Forestry, Textiles, Handicrafts,
Bottled Water, Coffee Processing, Mining.
MAIN EXPORTS: Coffee, Wood, Handicrafts, Marble.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 1,414 km
(879 mi) (1999). Vehicles; cars 3,156 (1998), trucks and
buses 7,140 (1998). Merchant Marine; n/a. Air Transport;
3 paved Airports (2001).
COMMUNICATIONS: Weekly Newspapers; total of 1 with
a total circulation of around 1,500 (2002). Radio; N/A.
Television; n/a. Telephones; units 6,600 (1996). Internet;
users 1,000 (2004).
MILITARY: 1,250 (2004) total active duty personnel
with 100% army while military expenditure accounts for 1.3%
(2003) of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
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