The world's newest nation
East Timor is the world's newest nation. Formerly a Portuguese colony, East Timor was invaded by Indonesian forces in 1975. Most of the East Timorese people never accepted Indonesian rule, and 25 years of occupation also meant 25 years of resistance. When the Indonesian government offered the East Timorese a choice between special autonomy within Indonesia, or independence at a United Nations supervised referendum in 1999, the East Timorese opted overwhelmingly for independence. When Indonesian forces withdrew from the territory, the militias which they had sponsored wreaked devastation, and the fledegling country's infrastructure was largely destroyed. A United Nations administration was set up in order to oversee the transition to independence.
Elections for a consituent assembly were held in August 2001. The most important initial task of the constituent assembly was to decide on a constitution for the new state. Full independence finally arrived on 20 May 2002 when east Timor finally took its place among the independent nations of the world, and the constituent assembly was transformed into the new nation's parliament.
East Timor is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, and major efforts are being made to develop economically. Coffee and natural gas are probably the most significant products currently being developed. There are hopes for further development of tourism and other industries as well.
Tetum and Portuguese are the country's official languages. According to Professor Geoffrey Hull's estimates, East Timor is also home to 16 distinct indigenous languages, 12 of which, like Waimaha, are Austronesian, and 4 of which are non-Austronesian. Further information on the other languages of East Timor can be found at the link to Professor Hull's article below.
The following links represent just a tiny proportion of the information that is available on the web for East Timor.
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This page last modified on 10 January, 2003.