OFFICIAL NAME: Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
CAPITAL: Dili
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Republic
AREA: 14,605 Sq Km (5640 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2007 POPULATION: 1,016,600


Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION 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% (2000).


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 births (2004).


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 1999.


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 the USA.

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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