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Welcome to the The Government of Timor-Leste Welcome to the The Government of Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste: Area

East Timor was once the farthest of the Portuguese colonies, it lies in the longitude of 123°E and latitude of 9°S. Australia is less than 600km south of East Timor, where such proximity allows many East Timorese from the eastern highlands, eg. Baucau and Lospalos, to be able see the evening lights emanating from northern Australia, possibly from a light house. While towards the southern hemisphere is occupied by Australia, the northern is occupied by the Republic of Indonesia with its 200,000,000 citizens and its 13,000 islands. Further north lies other countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Japan and you name the rest. Sometimes I tend to think that if Indonesia were a huge land mass instead of a composition of islands, then the island of Timor would be the land bridge that connects Australia and Asia, just like Sinai to Africa and Asia.

East Timor is mostly mountainous with plains occupying the the shore lines. The height of the mountains in the chain of the island of Timor averages at 2500m above sea level. Although the total area of East Timor (excluding West Timor) is only around 18,900km2, the highest mountain peaks at 3000m . East Timor also possesses a great diversity of culture, there are more than 30 dialects spoken in East Timor, with Tetum as the main dialect. (Many people tend to treat the distinct languages of East Timor as "dialects", I think they are wrong because if such is true, then Portuguese or Spanish are not languages. They are part of dialects spoken in southern Europe). Another important point about these "dialects" languages is that they are very different from one another, two people speaking with different East Timorese languages cannot understand each other, for instance of Lospalos (Fataloco) and Bobonaro (Bunak)

The territory of East Timor is comprised of the former Portuguese Timor: the eastern half of the island of Timor, the enclave of Oecusse inside West Timor (Indonesian Timor), the island of Atauro, about 20km north of Dili and the islet of Jaco at the eastern tip of Timor.

Language: Over 30 different Austronesian and Papuan languages or dialects are spoken by East Timor’s various cultural groups, a legacy of successive waves of immigration from all parts of Asia over the past 10,000 years or so. The most widely-spoken of these is Tetum, one of the country’s two official languages, the other being Portuguese. English and Bahasi Indonesian are also used in government and business.


Religion: 90% of Timorese are professed Catholics, although many also practise ancestor and spirit worship (animism). There are small Protestant, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities in Dili.