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East Timor

Republica Democratica, Timor Sea, coastal plains, monsoon rains, Dili

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East Timor or Timor-Leste, independent republic in Southeast Asia, forming the eastern half of the island of Timor. It is bordered by the Wetar Strait to the north and the Timor Sea to the south. The western half of the island belongs to the Republic of Indonesia and is part of East Nusa Tengarra province. East Timor was a Portuguese colony from the early 16th century until 1975 and was claimed as a province of Indonesia from 1976 to 1999. In August 1999 the East Timorese population voted to become an independent nation, and the territory was subsequently placed under the administration of the United Nations (UN) as it transitioned to complete independence. It became a fully independent republic in May 2002 officially named the Republica Democratica de Timor-Leste (Portuguese for Democratic Republic of East Timor). The national capital is Dili, a small port city located on the northern coast.

Land and Climate

East Timor covers 14,874 sq km (5,743 sq mi) and includes the main eastern side of Timor, the enclave of Ocussi (Ambeno) in the western portion of Timor, and some small islands. It has a mountainous terrain; Tata Mailau (2,950 m/9,679 ft), in the west, is the highest peak. Many rivers flow from the mountains through the coastal plains. The climate is hot with monsoon rains falling between December and March. Daily temperatures range from highs of 30 to 34C (86 to 93F) to lows of 20 to 23C (68 to 73F). October to December is the hottest period. In the south, the foothills of the mountains are covered in acacia and eucalyptus, but the north coast is arid, with a severe dry season.


East Timor

Aditjondro, George J. Is Oil Thicker than Blood?: A Study of Oil Companies. Nova Science, 1999. Outlines Timor's oil history and the role of oil in the 1990s conflict.

Gunn, Geoffrey C. East Timor and the United Nations: The Case for Intervention. Red Sea, 1997. A work that advocated and foretold the necessity of UN intervention in the former Portuguese colony.

Jardine, Matthew, and Noam Chomsky. East Timor: Genocide in Paradise. Odonian, 1999. Argues that until recently the United States supported the Indonesian military's occupation of East Timor.

Kohen, Arnold S. From the Place of the Dead: The Epic Struggles of Bishop Belo of East Timor. St. Martin's, 1999. The story of Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo, recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize.

McGuinn, Taro. East Timor: Island in Turmoil. Lemer, 1998. An account of the ethnic and political conflict in East Timor. From the World in Conflict series.

Pinto, Constancio East Timor's Unfinished Struggle: Inside the Timorese Resistance. South End, 1997. This memoir of a Timorese resistance fighter provides context for the struggle in East Timor.

Taylor, John G. Indonesia's Forgotten War: The Hidden History of East Timor. Zed, 1991. Explores the struggle for independence in East Timor since the Indonesian invasion of 1975.


Forbes, Dean K., B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Professor, School of Geography, Population and Environmental Management, Flinders University. Author of Asian Metropolis: Urbanisation and the Southeast Asian City and other books.

Microsoft Encarta 2009. 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

Article key phrases:

Republica Democratica, Timor Sea, coastal plains, monsoon rains, Dili, Portuguese colony, eucalyptus, acacia, small islands, Republic of Indonesia, highest peak, mountainous terrain, lows, national capital, foothills, north coast, Southeast Asia, Timor-Leste, East Timor, United Nations, highs, mountains, century, August, independence, March, December, climate, Land, administration, October, territory

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