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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... See More



 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


 Total: 14,874 sq km
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 (Rank: 94)

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:

 140 sq km (2008)

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

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 Noun: Timorese
Adjective: Timorese

Ethnic Groups:

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


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

Note: there are about 16 indigenous languages; Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak are spoken by a significant portion of the population


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



Note: other estimates range as low as 800,000 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 33.8% (male 202,431/female 195,895)
15-64 years: 62.5% (male 374,659/female 361,983)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 20,160/female 22,706) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 22.5 years
Male: 22.5 years
Female: 22.5 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 1.981% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 25.7 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 5.89 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 28% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 DILI (capital) 166,000 (2009)

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 (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 370 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 38.01 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 43.79 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 31.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 67.95 years
Male: 65.54 years
Female: 70.47 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 3.13 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 12.3% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 0.1 physicians/1,000 population (2004)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 86% of population
Rural: 63% of population
Total: 69% of population
Urban: 14% of population
Rural: 37% of population
Total: 31% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 76% of population
Rural: 40% of population
Total: 50% of population
Urban: 24% of population
Rural: 60% of population
Total: 50% of population (2008)

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)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 40.6% (2002)

Education Expenditures:

 16.8% of GDP (2009)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 58.6%
Male: NA
Female: NA (2002)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 11 years (2004)

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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), Viqueque

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:

 Civil law system based on the Indonesian model; note - new penal code based on the Portuguese model was passed by Parliament and promulgated in 2009; new civil code expected to be promulgated in 2011

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt 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

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 March 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)

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 R. 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

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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-Leste. 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$6.6 billion as of October 2010. The economy 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. Government spending increased markedly in 2009 and 2010, primarily on basic infrastructure, including electricity and roads. Limited experience in procurement and infrastructure building has hampered these projects. 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):

 $3.051 billion (2010 est.)
$2.877 billion (2009 est.)
$2.547 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $628 million (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 6.1% (2010 est.)
12.9% (2009 est.)
11% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $2,600 (2010 est.)
$2,500 (2009 est.)
$2,300 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 27.9%
Industry: 18%
Services: 54.1% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 414,200 (2007)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 90%
Industry: NA%
Services: NA% (2006 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 20% (2006 est.)

Note: data are for rural areas, unemployment rises to more than 40% among urban youth

Population Below Poverty Line:

 42% (2003 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 4%
Highest 10%: 27% (2007)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 31.9 (2007 est.)
38 (2002 est.)

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons:

 IDPs: 100,000 (2007)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 38.4% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $900 million
Expenditures: $800 million (2010 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 6.9% (2010 est.)
0.7% (2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 11% (31 December 2010 est.)
11.2% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $102.8 million (31 December 2008)
$74.94 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $89.88 million (31 December 2008)
$68.78 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $142.6 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$157.4 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $294 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$269.7 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $127.1 million (31 December 2008 est.)
$100 million (31 December 2007 est.)

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.)

Electricity - Production:

 NA kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 100%
Hydro: 0%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 NA kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 87,500 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 2,600 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 86,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 2,205 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 553.8 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 200 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 $1.161 billion (2007 est.)


 $9.2 million (2009 est.)
$10 million (2005 est.)

Note: excludes oil

Exports - Commodities:

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


 $384.9 million (2009 est.)
$202 million (2004 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Food, gasoline, kerosene, machinery

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $406.2 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$249.9 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert United States Dollar to Any Currency

The US dollar is used

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 2,400 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 600,600 (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: rudimentary service in urban and some rural areas

Domestic: system suffered significant damage during the violence associated with independence; limited fixed-line services; mobile-cellular services and coverage available in urban and some rural 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; one commercial TV broadcast station broadcasting in parts of Dili only, a few commercial radio stations, and roughly a dozen community radio stations (2009)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 At least 21 (Timor-Leste has one national public broadcaster and 20 community and church radio stations - station frequency types NA) (2007)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 1 (Timor-Leste has one national public broadcaster)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 206 (2010)

Internet Users:

 2,100 (2009)

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 6 (2010)

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
Paved: 2,600 km
Unpaved: 3,440 km (2005)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 1
By type: passenger/cargo 1 (2010)

Ports and Terminals:


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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; 18-month service obligation (2011)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 305,643
Females age 16-49: 293,052 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 243,120
Females age 16-49: 251,061 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 12,737
Female: 12,389 (2010 est.)

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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

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Last Updated: December 2011

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