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East Timor Information - Page 2
The first Europeans to settle in Timor were the Portuguese. In the mid eighteenth century Timor was divided between the Portuguese and the Dutch; East Timor went to the Portuguese and West Timor to the Dutch.

During the Second World War the Japanese occupied East Timor between 1942 and 1945. Following the War, East Timor returned to Portuguese administration.

In 1974 Portugal promised to free its colonies. The following year the Portuguese administration in East Timor withdrew to the island of Atauro.

A short civil war between opposing political parties in East Timor left two thousand people dead. Fretilin, the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, declared East Timor independent (November 1975). A month later Indonesia annexed East Timor.

Resistance to Indonesian rule ensued and in 1999 the United Nations supervised a referendum on independence. Almost ninety-nine percent of those eligible to vote went to the polls and seventy-eight percent of the voters chose independence. Violence followed the result. A third of the population fled from East Timor and others took refuge in the mountains.

United Nations' Australian-led peacekeeping forces arrived in East Timor and the UN established the United Nations Transitional Administration in Timor-Leste. Elections were held in 2001 and independence celebrations took place on 20 May 2002.

Following the vote for independence in 1999 anti-independence troops and militias destroyed about seventy percent of East Timor's infrastructure. An international programme, overseen by a United Nations peace-keeping force, began reconstruction. Unfortunately, an outbreak of violence in mid 2006 disrupted economic activity.

The development of oil and gas in the Timor Sea has begun to supplement government revenues. Other resources are gold, manganese and marble.

Industries include printing, soap manufacturing, woven cloth and handicrafts.

Many of the people of East Timor depend on subsistence farming and fishing. Agricultural products are coffee, rice, maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, soybeans, cabbage, mangoes, bananas and vanilla.

The abundance of whales and dolphins off the coast has sparked interest in marine ecotourism, one of the world's fastest growing marine industries. (2008)

The arts in East Timor are as diverse as the woven cloth (tais) for which the country is famous.

Tais are produced by female workers. Yarn is spun, then dyed using traditional colours. Decorative designs, passed down through the generations, are woven into the fabric. Some tais are considered family heirlooms.

Tais are used to make traditional clothes worn at ceremonies such as births, weddings, funerals and other special occasions.

Football is a popular sport in East Timor. The East Timor National Soccer Team took part in events at the country's independence celebrations in 2002. Other sports in East Timor include running, martial arts, boxing and weightlifting.

The seas around East Timor are suitable for water sports such as scuba diving and snorkeling.

Religious holidays are celebrated.

28 November 1975 is the date of independence from Portugal and 20 May 2002 is the date of independence from Indonesia.

News from East Timor is available from Newslink.

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