Democratic Republic of
Unidade, Acção, Progresso (Portuguese)
Unidade, Asaun, Progresu (Tetum)
"Unity, Action, Progress"
|Anthem: Pátria (Portuguese)|
and largest city
|Government||Unitary semi-presidential republic|
|Taur Matan Ruak|
|28 November 1975|
|17 July 1976|
|25 October 1999|
|20 May 2002|
|14,874 km2 (5,743 sq mi) (154th)|
• Water (%)
• 2021 estimate
• 2015 census
|78/km2 (202.0/sq mi) (137th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
medium · 141st
|Currency||United States dollarb (USD)|
|Time zone||UTC+9 (Timor-Leste Time)|
|ISO 3166 code||TL|
East Timor (// (listen)), also known as Timor-Leste (/ /; Portuguese pronunciation: [ti'moɾ 'lɛʃ.tɨ]; Tetum: Timór Lorosa'e), officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (Portuguese: República Democrática de Timor-Leste, Tetum: Repúblika Demokrátika Timór-Leste), is an island country in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the Oecusse exclave on the north-western half, and the minor islands of Atauro and Jaco. Australia is the country's southern neighbour, separated by the Timor Sea. The country's size is 14,874 square kilometres (5,743 sq mi). Dili is its capital city.
East Timor came under Portuguese influence in the sixteenth century, remaining a Portuguese colony until 1975. Internal conflict preceded a unilateral declaration of independence and an Indonesian invasion and annexation. Resistance continued throughout Indonesian rule, and in 1999 a United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination led to Indonesia relinquishing control of the territory. As Timor-Leste, it became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on 20 May 2002.
The national government runs on a semi-presidential system, with the popularly elected President sharing power with a Prime Minister appointed by the National Parliament. Power is centralised under the national government, although many local leaders have informal influence. The country maintains a policy of international cooperation, and is a member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, an observer of the Pacific Islands Forum, and an applicant for ASEAN membership. The country remains relatively poor, with an economy that relies heavily on natural resources, especially oil, as well as on foreign aid.
The total population is over 1.1 million, and is heavily skewed towards young people due to a high fertility rate. Education has led to the increasing literacy over the past half-century, especially in the two national languages of Portuguese and Tetum. High ethnic and linguistic diversity is reflected by the 30 local dialects spoken in the country. The majority of the population is Catholic, which exists alongside strong local traditions, especially in rural areas.
The semi-presidential system in the new state of Timor-Leste has institutionalized a political struggle between the president, Xanana Gusmão, and the prime minister, Mari Alkatiri. This has polarized political alliances and threatens the viability of the new state. This paper explains the ideological divisions and the history of rivalry between these two key political actors. The adoption of Marxism by Fretilin in 1977 led to Gusmão's repudiation of the party in the 1980s and his decision to remove Falintil, the guerrilla movement, from Fretilin control. The power struggle between the two leaders is then examined in the transition to independence. This includes an account of the politicization of the defense and police forces and attempts by Minister of Internal Administration Rogério Lobato to use disaffected Falintil veterans as a counterforce to the Gusmão loyalists in the army. The December 4, 2002, Dili riots are explained in the context of this political struggle.