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People and Society






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 popular referendum, an overwhelming majority of the people of Timor-Leste voted for independence from Indonesia. However, in the next three weeks, 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. Most 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, Australian-led peacekeeping troops 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 2006, internal tensions threatened the new nation's security when a military strike led to violence and a breakdown of law and order. At Dili's request, an Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) deployed to Timor-Leste, and the UN Security Council established the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which included an authorized police presence of over 1,600 personnel. The ISF and UNMIT restored stability, allowing for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007 in a largely peaceful atmosphere. In February 2008, a rebel group staged an unsuccessful attack against the president and prime minister. The ringleader was killed in the attack and most of the rebels surrendered in April 2008. Since the unsuccessful attacks the government has enjoyed one of its longest periods of post-independence stability.


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People And Society

Noun Timorese
Adjective Timorese

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

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

Population World Ranking: 159
Other estimates range as low as 800,000 (July 2012 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 22.8 years
Male 22.8 years
Female 22.9 years (2012 est.)

Population growth rate World Ranking: 56
1.957% (2012 est.)

Birth rate World Ranking: 56
25.43 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate World Ranking: 170
5.86 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

Net migration rate World Ranking: 107
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 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 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over 0.88 male(s)/female
Total population
1.03 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate World Ranking: 37
300 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate World Ranking: 65
Total 36.78 deaths/1,000 live births
Male 42.39 deaths/1,000 live births
30.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth World Ranking: 156
Total population 68.27 years
Male 65.85 years
Female 70.81 years (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate World Ranking: 15
5.32 children born/woman (2012 est.)

Health expenditures World Ranking: 8
12.3% of GDP (2009)

Physicians density
0.1 physicians/1,000 population (2004)

Hiv/aids - adult prevalence rate

Hiv/aids - people living with hiv/aids

Hiv/aids - deaths

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 the age of 5 years underweight World Ranking: 4
40.6% (2002)

Education expenditures World Ranking: 1
16.8% of GDP (2009)

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

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
Total 11 years (2004)


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  East Timor:

  GPS points from East Timor

Foho Melemuga East Timor (general)

Beheda East Timor (general)

Lolo Abendudatoi East Timor (general)

Mabelis East Timor (general)

Luru East Timor (general)

Iri Bera East Timor (general)

Aidaludo East Timor (general)

Pairara East Timor (general)
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