East Timor Facts

East Timor Facts and History


The state of Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor, is a very young state. It was proclaimed in 2002 after 25 years of sometimes bloody conflicts with Indonesia.

The name is composed of the Portuguese “Leste” for east and “Timor” from Malay, which also means east. The name thus represents a tautology. East Timor is located in the extreme east of the predominantly Indonesian island of Timor and is only about 500 km away from Australia, separated by the Timor Sea.

The island of Timor belongs to the archipelago of the Lesser Sunda Islands, to which Java is also counted.

The country has only recently been discovered by tourists, so travelers here can still feel like pioneers. However, East Timor is not a cheap travel destination like other Asian countries, although it is still one of the poorest countries in Asia.

Due to its varied nature, East Timor is an attractive travel destination. In the small state, for example, rice and coffee are grown in Leutem and Bobonaru.

The flora and fauna border between Asia and Australia, the so-called Wallace Line, which the English researcher of the same name named it in 1859, runs through Timor.

Name of the country Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste/República Democrática de Timor-Leste/Timor Loro Sa’e
Form of government Parliamentary-democratic republic
Location The state is located in the eastern part of the island of Timor.
National anthem Pátria (homeland)
Population 1.1 million (Credit: Countryaah: East Timor Population)
Ethnicities 78% Timorers, 20% Indonesians, 2% Chinese
Religions 95% Catholics, the rest is made up of Muslims, Protestants, Buddhists and Hindus
Languages Official languages: Portuguese and Tetum; other languages spoken: Indonesian, English and some Indian-Malay languages
Capital Dili with around 200,000 residents
Surface 14,604 km²
Highest mountain Mount Tatamailau with a height of 2,963 m
Longest river Laclo with a length of 485 km
Largest lake Ira Lalaro with an area of 2.2 km²
International license plate TL
Currency U.S. $
Difference to CET + 8 h
International phone code +670
Voltage 220 V, 50 Hz
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .tl

East Timor: history

East Timor was settled by Austronesians around 13,000 years ago.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, before the Europeans arrived, the area was divided into small kingdoms. The Dawan tribe represented one of them.

From the 14th century Timor was settled by the Tetun tribe, who are said to have their origins in Malaysia.

In 1511, the Portuguese Antonie de Abreu arrived.

In 1568 the Dutch arrived.

In 1556 Portuguese Dominicans established a mission station in Lifau, today’s Oecussi.

In 1603 the Dutchman Appolonius Scolte sailed to Kupang, today’s West Timor.

For the next 300 years there was a brisk trade in sandalwood from Timor, until all the wood was exploited.

The Portuguese military advanced inland in 1642 under Francisco Fernandes. His army consisted mainly of half-breeds from the coastal towns, which are also called Topasse. After the successful advance inland, they mostly settled on the coast and became a powerful group in the country that was supposed to spread Portuguese influences.

In 1653 the Dutch built a fort. In

1656 the Portuguese colony in Timor was officially recognized.

Approx. 100 years later the Topasse controlled East Timor and in 1769 drove many Portuguese out of the country.

In the Lisbon Treaty of 1859, Timor was divided in half. Portugal received the east and north as well as the enclave Oecussi. That is roughly today’s East Timor.

The rest went to Holland. In

1905, Holland increased its sphere of influence. As a result, a rebellion broke out in West Timor in 1906. This situation would last until 1916, when the last kingship surrendered.

There was also bitter resistance in East Timor. East Timor had been administered independently since 1896 and was no longer administered from Macau. In 1920 the Portuguese introduced extremely high taxes and forced labor on the plantations. The population reacted accordingly.

Around the same time, the sandalwood deposits were exhausted and the colony was economically at an end when the First World War began.

During the 2nd World War the island was the theater of violent clashes between Australia and Japan.

On August 15, 1945, the Japanese surrendered, whereupon the Australians made claims to the land.

In 1949 the Dutch West Timor was slammed into Indonesia.

East Timor remained a Portuguese colony until 1975. It served Portugal as a coffee producer and as a domicile for exiles during the Salazar regime in Portugal.

After World War II, Portugal took over the regime in its former colony and declared it an overseas province.

After the Carnation Revolution in 1974, the overseas province gained independence from Portugal.

Indonesia immediately made claims and sent soldiers to East Timor, which it declared the 27th province on July 16, 1976. However, the locals fiercely resisted. Around 100,000 people lost their lives in the course of the conflict.

In 1991 the massacre took place in the Santa Cruz cemetery.

In 1996 the Bishop Carlos Belo von Dili and Jose Ramos-Horta received the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1998 Soeharto (Suharto), the then President of Indonesia, lost power as a result of the 1997 Asian crisis.

On August 30, 1999, 78.5% of the locals voted for independence.

Civil war broke out after the Suai massacre.

On September 7, 1999, Indonesia declared martial law in Timor-Leste.

On September 20, the UN peacekeeping soldiers arrived, whereupon the 15,000 Indonesian soldiers were withdrawn.

The clashes destroyed large parts of the country’s infrastructure.

In August 2001 the first democratic government was elected.

On May 20, 2002, Timor-Leste officially became independent. The country’s president has been the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos Horta (born 1949) since May 2007. He was shot in an attack by renegade gangs in early February and injured so badly that he had to be flown to Australia.

The country’s prime minister has been Xanana Gusmão since August 2007.

East Timor Facts