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World > Asia > Timor-Leste

   flag of Timor-Leste
   Timor-Leste

Introduction:
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 Timor-Leste from 1942 to 1945, but Portugal resumed colonial authority after the Japanese defeat in World War II. Timor-Leste 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-Leste. 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 March of 2006, a military strike led to violence and a near breakdown of law and order. Over 2,000 Australian, New Zealand, and Portuguese police and peacekeepers deployed to Timor-Leste in late May. Although many of the peacekeepers were replaced by UN police officers, 850 Australian soldiers remained as of 1 January 2007.


Official name: Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Capital: name: Dili
geographic coordinates: 8 35 S, 125 36 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Government type: republic
Population: 1,084,971
note: other estimates range as low as 800,000 (July 2007 est.)
Languages: 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
Official Currency: US Dollar (USD)

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Currency code: USD
Area: total: 15,007 sq km
land: NA sq km
water: NA sq km
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; distinct rainy and dry seasons


Map of Timor-Leste
map of Timor-Leste


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Ranking Positions - US Dollar Exchange Rates



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