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Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste

Summary

Timor-Leste was formerly known as East Timor, and was a Portuguese colony until it declared its independence from Portugal in 1975. The nation become occupied by Indonesian military forces for the next 20 years, and an estimated 100,000–250,000 died over the course of the occupation. When, in 1999, the United Nations held a referendum and the Timorese people voted for independence from Indonesia, anti-independence militias setting off a large-scale operation to destroy the Timorese infrastructure, crippling the electric grid, water supply and education systems. Approximately 1,400 people were killed, and 300,000 became refugees in western Timor. An Australian peacekeeping force arrived on September 20, 1999, bringing the destruction to an end. In 2002, Timor-Leste was internationally recognized as an independent state.1 The infant and maternal mortality rates in Timor-Leste are the highest in Southeast Asia,2 at 35 deaths per 1,000 live births, and 215 deaths per 100,000 live births, respectively.3 28 percent of the population lacks access to an improved drinking water source, and 59 percent lacks access to modern sanitation facilities.4 37.7 percent of children under the age of 5 are underweight in Timor-Leste, the highest rate in the world.5 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tt.html 2 https://www.usaid.gov/timor-leste/global-health 3 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tt.html 4–5 Ibid

Demographics

Nationality
Timorese
Population
1,172,390
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Timor-Leste Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Timor-Leste is an island nation in the Pacific with a tropical climate, bordering Indonesia to the west. Its natural resources include gold, petroleum, natural gas, manganese and marble, and the oil industry accounts for a majority of the nation’s revenue.1 The nation faces issues with soil erosion, air pollution and forest depletion. Slash-and-burn agricultural practices contribute to soil erosion and forest depletion, and to loss of biodiversity.2 Timor-Leste is prone to floods and landslides, as well as earthquakes, tsunamis and tropical cyclones.3

Family

30 percent of Timorese women have experienced domestic violence in the last year, and 38 percent of Timorese women will experience it in their lifetime.1 In 2010, the government of Timor-Leste passed the Law Against Domestic Violence, establishing domestic violence as a punishable crime.2 The law defines domestic violence as being physical, psychological, sexual, or economic abuse.3 Additionally, the law also approved the development of a number of safe houses and shelters for victims of domestic violence.4 The infant and maternal mortality rates are the highest in Southeast Asia,5 at 35 deaths per 1,000 live births, and 215 deaths per 100,000 live births, respectively.6

Human Rights

Victims of the offenses committed during the Indonesian occupation persist in seeking reparations. Journalists are not protected, particularly when it comes to critique of the government, and have been charged with defamation.1 The governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia have not acted on the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) report, a report of the human rights crimes committed against the Timorese people during the Indonesian occupation.2

Education

Despite political turmoil over the last couple of decades, Timor-Leste brought the national school enrollment rate up from 67 to 83 percent in just five years, and the completion rate is 95 percent.1 The literacy rate is just 67.5 percent.2 Education accounts for 7.5 percent of the GDP, a very high rate, the 7th highest in the world.3 An average student is expected to remain in school for a total of 13 years, from the primary through tertiary level, in Timor-Leste.4

Poverty

Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in East Asia.1Unemployment is just 4.4 percent, but 41.8 percent of the population is below the poverty line.2 With the bulk of the economic activity being generated from offshore drilling, job creation is sparse for those who actually live on the island.3 37.7 percent of children under the age of five are underweight, the highest rate in the world.4 28 percent of the population lacks access to an improved drinking water source, and 59 percent lacks access to modern sanitation facilities.5

Religion

Approximately 97.6 percent of Timor-Leste’s population is Roman Catholic, followed by 2 percent identifying as Protestant, 0.2 percent identifying as Muslim and the remainder identifying as other.1 The constitution of Timor-Leste provides for religious freedom and this is generally well respected by the government.2 However, there are reports of preferential treatments being given to Catholic institutions, including in marriage licenses and funding.3

Clean Water

28 percent of the population in Timor-Leste lacks access to an improved drinking water source, and nearly 60 percent of the population lacks access to modern sanitation facilities.1 The risk of contracting waterborne diseases like bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid is very high.2

Economy

Timor-Leste’s GDP is $6.753 billion, and the GDP per capita is $5,400. Some of the leading industries are printing, soap manufacturing and woven cloth. The primary agricultural products are coffee, rice, corn, cassava, sweet potatoes, soybeans, cabbage, mangoes, bananas and vanilla.1 Timor-Leste’s primary luxury exports include coffee, oil, sandalwood and marble. The unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, but 41.8 percent of the population is below the poverty line.2 Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in East Asia. Oil and gas comprise 95 percent of the government’s annual revenue. The nation’s oil industry does not create many jobs, despite the fact that it accounts for such a large part of the national revenue, as the oil industry is technologically oriented.3 As a result, Timor-Leste is Read More very dependent on foreign aid.4 The nation is considering ecotourism as a way to boost economy and simultaneously protect the coral reef system.5 Show Less

Government

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is a relatively small, semi-presidential republic of 1,291,358 people. The country is led by a president and a prime minister, with the president acting as the chief of state and the prime minister acting as the head of government.1 Timor-Leste was formerly known as East Timor, and was a Portuguese colony until it declared its independence from Portugal in 1975, only to become occupied by Indonesian military forces for the next 20 years, and an estimated 100,000–250,000 died over the course of the occupation. When, in 1999, the United Nations held a referendum and the Timorese people voted for independence from Indonesia, anti-independence militias set off a large-scale operation to destroy the Timorese infrastructure, crippling the electric grid, water supply Read More and education systems. Approximately 1,400 people were killed, and 300,000 became refugees in western Timor. An Australian peacekeeping force arrived on September 20, 1999, bringing the destruction to an end. In 2002, Timor-Leste was internationally recognized as an independent state.2 Despite new leadership, and an end to the Indonesian occupation, the country still suffers from governmental corruption, inconsistent property laws, and an ill-equipped judicial system.3 Show Less

Health

The infant and maternal mortality rates in Timor-Leste are the highest in Southeast Asia,1 at 35 deaths per 1,000 live births, and 215 deaths per 100,000 live births, respectively.2 28 percent of the population lacks access to an improved drinking water source, and 59 percent lacks access to modern sanitation facilities.3 37.7 percent of children under the age of 5 are underweight in Timor-Leste, the highest rate in the world.4 The risk of contracting waterborne diseases like bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid is very high.5

Children

The Law to Prevent and Fight Against Human Trafficking was enacted in Timor-Leste in 2017 to prevent child labor in the commercial sex industry by forming a monitoring community to oversee the Inter-Agency Trafficking Working Group who enforces the National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking across the nation. 1 The infant mortality rate is 35 deaths per 1,000 live births. 37.7 percent of children under the age of 5 are underweight in Timor-Leste, the highest rate in the world.2 The average child is expected to be in school for 13 years.3

Animals

Timor-Leste is part of the dry tropical climate region, and is home to a variety of both land and marine wildlife.1 Species include the spotted cuscus monkey, a number of endemic bird species, including the yellow-crested cockatoo, and a wide variety of fish in Timor-Leste’s coral reefs.2 Whales and dolphins are also known to frequent the nation’s waters.3 Timor-Leste is party to an international agreement on biodiversity.4

Timor-Leste

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