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The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor (Tetum: Timór Lorosa'e), is a country in Southeast Asia. It lies northwest of Australia in the Lesser Sunda Islands at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. East Timor includes the eastern half of the island of Timor, the Oecussi (Ambeno) region on the northwest portion of the island of Timor, and the small islands of Atauro and Jaco.
Democratic Republic of East Timor
Population 1.2 million
Area 14,609 sq km (5,641 sq miles)
Major languages Tetum and Portuguese (official), Indonesian and English (working languages)
Major religion Christianity
Life expectancy 62 years (men), 64 years (women)
Currency US dollar
UN, World Bank
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Timor-Leste, or East Timor,...
a Southeast Asian nation occupying half the island of Timor, is ringed by coral reefs teeming with marine life. Landmarks in the capital, Dili, speak to the country's struggles for independence from Portugal in 1975 and then Indonesia in 2002.
The iconic 27m-tall Cristo Rei de Dili
statue sits on a hilltop high over the city, with sweeping views of the surrounding bay.
Population: 1.269 million (2016) World Bank
Official languages: Portuguese, Tetun
Currencies: United States Dollar, East Timor centavo coins
Over the next two decades, Indonesia integrated the colony, with many significant positions of authority being occupied by Indonesians rather than the East Timor. An estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals are believed to have lost their lives during a campaign of pacification during this time.
The United Nations supervised a popular referendum on 30 August 1999, in which the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. After the results were announced, gangs of independence opponents, supported by the Indonesian military, terrorised the population in a civil war that destroyed much of the country's infrastructure. A United Nations peacekeeping force led by Australian forces was sent in to re-establish a civil society and reconstruct the nation.
East Timor's road to independence - achieved on 20 May 2002 - was long and traumatic.
The people of the first new nation of the century suffered some of the worst atrocities of modern times in their struggle for self-determination.
When their Portuguese colonial masters withdrew in 1975, Indonesia claimed the territory for itself and ruthlessly suppressed the independence movement.
Eventually the UN took over the administration and supervised the territory's transition to independence.
Some key dates in East Timor's history:
1600s - Portuguese invade Timor, set up trading post and use island as source of sandalwood.
1749 - Timor split following battle between Portuguese and Dutch. Portuguese take the eastern half.
1942 - Japanese invade, fighting battles with Australian troops. Up to 60,000 East Timorese are killed. Japan in control until 1945.
1974 - Coup in Lisbon leads to a new Portuguese government that begins policy of decolonisation.
1975 - Portuguese administration withdraws to offshore island of Atauro. After brief civil war, left-wing Fretilin party unilaterally declares East Timor independent.
Indonesian troops invade. More than 200,000 people - a quarter of the population - killed by fighting, famine and disease that follow the invasion and during Indonesian occupation.
1999 - After a change of leadership in Indonesia, East Timorese are allowed to vote in an independence ballot.
1999 September - After 78% of voters opt for independence, anti-independence militia resume campaign of terror. UN takes over administration and prepares territory for independence.
2002 - East Timor becomes independent.