East Timor Facts
The highest point in East Timor (Timor-Leste) is Foho Tatamailau (2,963 m).
The north coast of East Timor is on the edge of the Wetar Strait, a marine trench around three kilometers deep. A variety of marine life can be found in the deep waters.
The island of Timor is said to resemble the shape of a crocodile. Timorese legend says that a crocodile turned itself into the island in thanks to a boy who saved his life.
The first people to colonise the island of Timor arrived around thirty-five thousand years ago.
Melanesian people migrated to Timor around 3000 BC. People from South China and North Indochina arrived in 2500 BC.
Archeological discoveries in caves at Lene Hara, on the eastern tip of East Timor, date back thirty thousand years.
Paintings of animals, dancers and symbols, estimated to be five thousand years old, can be seen in the caves of O Hi and Ile Kere Kere, near to Lena Hara.
The Portuguese first visited Timor in the early sixteenth century.
Sandalwood grown in East Timor was exported by Portuguese traders.
The Portuguese controlled East Timor for over four hundred years.
During the Second World War the Japanese occupied East Timor between 1942 and 1945.
The island of Timor was divided between the Portuguese (East Timor) and the Dutch (West Timor).
In the early nineteenth century, coffee, cotton and sugar plantations were established on East Timor.
Indonesia, previously part of the Dutch colonial empire, annexed East Timor at the end of 1975.
In August 1999 seventy-eight percent of Timorese voters chose independence in a United Nations supervised referendum.
Australian-led peacekeeping troops of the International Force for East Timor brought an end to the violence following the referendum.
Carlos Belo, the Acting Bishop of Dili, and Jose Ramos Horta, the resistance leader, were jointly awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. The Prize helped to raise awareness of East Timor's struggle for independence.
Elections were held in East Timor in August 2001.
In April 2002, Xanana Gusmao, a Timorese leader, won the presidential election in East Timor.
Independence celebrations took place in East Timor in May 2002 as East Timor (Timor-Leste) became the newest nation of the twenty-first century.
Jose Ramos Horta became the prime minister of East Timor in July 2006, winning the presidential election in May 2007.
Francisco Guterres became the president of East Timor in 2017.
At the beginning of April 2021 Timor-Leste suffered severe flash flooding and landslides following heavy rainfall from Cyclone Seroja.