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
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
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.
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.
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.