June-Aug 2014 1 of 2




Where is Timor-Leste ?

A Brief History of Asia's newest country.

The island of Timor is the 44th largest island in the world and the 8th largest between Asia and Australia. The eastern half was a Portuguese colony for over 350 years before receiving its independence in 1975. But within a week East Timor was invaded and annexed by its giant neighbour Indonesia.

There followed a long and bloody war of independence which lasted almost 25 years and cost the lives of nearly ONE in FIVE of the country's population (estimates range from 160,000 to 180,000).

In a 1999 UN-sponsored referendum, the majority of East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia, but fighting continued, believed the result of cross-border incursions by West Timorese (Indonesian) militias.

The UN stepped in and took charge of the fledgling democracy. Timor-Leste finally gained independence for a third time in 2002, making it the first new sovereign state of the 21st century. We were present when the elections of 2012 took place and the UN left. Timor-Leste now appears to be one of the most peaceful places I have travelled.


Timor-Leste is located at the extreme southeastern corner of South East Asia.
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