Monday, January 15, 2018


Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor) is just to the north of Australia, separated by the Timor Sea. The first humans arrived 42,000 years ago with at least three major waves of immigration following before Europeans arrived. Today, 97% of the 1.2 million population are Roman Catholic. Used as an underdeveloped trading post, it was known as Portuguese Timor until it declared independence in 1975. Nine days later, it was invaded by Indonesia (with British, US and Australian support) and declared that country's 27th province. The fear was of a new communist country. Two decades of conflict followed until a United Nations-sponsored Act (the Cold War now over) based on 'self-determination' finalised independence. Timor-Leste became the first new sovereign nation of the 21st century. It is part of a free trade zone called the Timor-Leste-Indonesia-Australia Growth Triangle (TIA-GT), but is labelled by the IMF as "the most oil-dependent economy in the world". Nearly half the population lives in extreme poverty.

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