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Careers, Jobs and Education Resources for: Timor-Leste

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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 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 late April 2006, internal tensions threatened the new nation's security when a military strike led to violence and a near breakdown of law and order in Dili. At the request of the Government of Timor-Leste, an Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) deployed to Timor-Leste in late May. In August, the UN Security Council established the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which included an authorized police presence of over 1,600 personnel. In subsequent months, many of the ISF soldiers were replaced by UN police officers; approximately 80 ISF officers remained as of January 2008. From April to June 2007, the Government of Timor-Leste held presidential and parliamentary elections in a largely peaceful atmosphere with the support and assistance of UNMIT and international donors. (from the CIA)


Economic 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 begun to supplement government revenues ahead of schedule and above expectations - the result of high petroleum prices. the technology-intensive industry, however, has done little to create jobs for the unemployed because there are no production facilities in timor. 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 preserve the value of timor-leste's petroleum wealth for future generations. the fund held assets of us$1.8 billion as of september 2007. the mid-2006 outbreak of violence and civil unrest disrupted both private and public sector economic activity and created 100,000 internally displaced persons - about 10 percent of the population. while real non-oil gdp growth in 2006 was negative, the economy probably rebounded in 2007. 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 reduce poverty. in late 2007, the new government announced plans aimed at increasing spending, reducing poverty, and improving the country's infrastructure, but it continues to face capacity constraints. in the short term, the government must also address continuing problems related to the crisis of 2006, especially the displaced timorese.

Environmental Issues

Widespread use of slash and burn agriculture has led to deforestation and soil erosion

Government Type



1,108,777 note: other estimates range as low as 800,000 (july 2008 est.)


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


Total: 15,007 sq km land: na sq km water: na sq km

Slightly larger than connecticut

Country Aliases

Conventional long form: democratic republic of timor-leste 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


Name: dili geographic coordinates: 8 35 s, 125 36 e time difference: utc+9 (14 hours ahead of washington, dc during standard time)

Military Service

18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)

International Disputes

Timor-leste-indonesia boundary committee has resolved all but a small portion of the land boundary, but discussions on maritime boundaries are stalemated over sovereignty of the uninhabited coral island of pulau batek/fatu sinai in the north and alignment with australian claims in the south; many refugees who left timor-leste in 2003 still reside in indonesia and refuse repatriation; australia and timor-leste agreed in 2005 to defer the disputed portion of the boundary for 50 years and to split hydrocarbon revenues evenly outside the joint petroleum development area covered by the 2002 timor sea treaty

Sources: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

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