Modern History/East Timor

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste or East Timor is one of the newest independent countries in the world, located in Southeastern Asia. It consists of the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecussi-Ambeno, an exclave of East Timor situated on the northwestern side of the island, surrounded by Indonesian West Timor. The small country is located about 400 miles northwest of Darwin, Australia.

The name Timor is derived from timur, the Malay word for 'east', which became Timor in Portuguese. The Portuguese name Timor-Leste and the Tetum name Timor Lorosa'e are sometimes used in English. Lorosa'e means 'rising sun' in Tetum.

East Timor has the lowest per capita GDP (Purchasing Power Parity adjusted) in the world of only $400 (which corresponds to the 192nd, and last, position). However, regarding the Human Development Index, or HDI, it is in 140th place among the world's nations, which corresponds to medium human development.

Colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, East Timor was known as Portuguese Timor for centuries. It was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, which occupied it until 1999. Following the UN-sponsored act of self-determination that year, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory, which achieved full independence on May 20, 2002. With the Philippines, East Timor is one of only two majority Roman Catholic countries in Asia.