Photos of Timor-Leste

Southeast of the island of Timor (center), a phytoplankton bloom is coloring the waters of the Timor Sea, which separates Timor from northwestern Australia. To the north of Timor is Flores, which is home to numerous active volcanoes. (The red dots are due to fire, not volcanic activity.) The eastern half of Timor, as well as an exclave to the west and a few offshore islands, constitute the country of Timor-Leste. The western portion of Timor and the remaining islands (including Flores) belong to Indonesia. Image courtesy of NASA.

Introduction

Background

Timor was actively involved in Southeast Asian trading networks for centuries and by the 14th century exported aromatic sandalwood, slaves, honey, and wax. A number of local chiefdoms ruled the island in the early 16th century when Portuguese traders arrived, chiefly attracted by the relative abundance of sandalwood on Timor; by mid century, the Portuguese had colonized the island. Skirmishing with the Dutch in the region eventually resulted in an 1859 treaty in which Portugal ceded the western portion of the island. Imperial Japan occupied Portuguese Timor from 1942 to 1945, but Portugal resumed colonial authority after the Japanese defeat in World War II. East Timor declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975 and was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. It was incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of Timor Timur (East Timor). An unsuccessful campaign of pacification followed over the next two decades, during which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 people died. In an August 1999 UN-supervised popular referendum, an overwhelming majority of the people of Timor-Leste voted for independence from Indonesia. However, in the next three weeks, anti-independence Timorese militias - organized and supported by the Indonesian military - commenced a large-scale, scorched-earth campaign of retribution. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and displaced nearly 500,000. Most of the country's infrastructure, including homes, irrigation systems, water supply systems, and schools, and nearly all of the country's electrical grid were destroyed. On 20 September 1999, Australian-led peacekeeping troops deployed to the country and brought the violence to an end. On 20 May 2002, Timor-Leste was internationally recognized as an independent state.

In 2006, internal tensions threatened the new nation's security when a military strike led to violence and a breakdown of law and order. At Dili's request, an Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) deployed to Timor-Leste, and the UN Security Council established the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which included an authorized police presence of over 1,600 personnel. The ISF and UNMIT restored stability, allowing for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007 in a largely peaceful atmosphere. In February 2008, a rebel group staged an unsuccessful attack against the president and prime minister. The ringleader was killed in the attack, and most of the rebels surrendered in April 2008. Since the attack, the government has enjoyed one of its longest periods of post-independence stability, including successful 2012 elections for both the parliament and president and a successful transition of power in February 2015. In late 2012, the UN Security Council ended its peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste and both the ISF and UNMIT departed the country. Early parliamentary elections in the spring of 2017 finally produced a majority government after months of impasse. Currently, the government is a coalition of three parties and the president is a member of the opposition party. In 2018 and 2019, this configuration stymied nominations for key ministerial positions and slowed progress on certain policy issues.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southeastern Asia, northwest of Australia in the Lesser Sunda Islands at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago; note - Timor-Leste includes the eastern half of the island of Timor, the Oecussi (Ambeno) region on the northwest portion of the island of Timor, and the islands of Pulau Atauro and Pulau Jaco

Geographic coordinates

8 50 S, 125 55 E

Map references

Southeast Asia

Area

total: 14,874 sq km

land: 14,874 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 159

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Connecticut; almost half the size of Maryland

<p>slightly larger than Connecticut; almost half the size of Maryland</p>

Land boundaries

total: 253 km

border countries (1): Indonesia 253 km

Coastline

706 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical; hot, humid; distinct rainy and dry seasons

Terrain

mountainous

Elevation

highest point: Foho Tatamailau 2,963 m

lowest point: Timor Sea, Savu Sea, and Banda Sea 0 m

Natural resources

gold, petroleum, natural gas, manganese, marble

Land use

agricultural land: 25.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 10.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 4.9% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 10.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 49.1% (2018 est.)

other: 25.8% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

350 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

most of the population concentrated in the western third of the country, particularly around Dili

Natural hazards

floods and landslides are common; earthquakes; tsunamis; tropical cyclones

Geography - note

Timor comes from the Malay word for "east"; the island of Timor is part of the Malay Archipelago and is the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands; the district of Oecussi is an exclave separated from Timor-Leste proper by Indonesia; Timor-Leste has the unique distinction of being the only Asian country located completely in the Southern Hemisphere

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Timorese

adjective: Timorese

Ethnic groups

Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) (includes Tetun, Mambai, Tokodede, Galoli, Kemak, Baikeno), Melanesian-Papuan (includes Bunak, Fataluku, Bakasai), small Chinese minority

Languages

Tetun Prasa 30.6%, Mambai 16.6%, Makasai 10.5%, Tetun Terik 6.1%, Baikenu 5.9%, Kemak 5.8%, Bunak 5.5%, Tokodede 4%, Fataluku 3.5%, Waima'a 1.8%, Galoli 1.4%, Naueti 1.4%, Idate 1.2%, Midiki 1.2%, other 4.5% (2015 est.)

note: data represent population by mother tongue; Tetun and Portuguese are official languages; Indonesian and English are working languages; there are about 32 indigenous languages

Religions

Roman Catholic 97.6%, Protestant/Evangelical 2%, Muslim 0.2%, other 0.2% (2015 est.)

Demographic profile

Timor-Leste’s high fertility and population growth rates sustain its very youthful age structure – approximately 40% of the population is below the age of 15 and the country’s median age is 20.  While Timor-Leste’s total fertility rate (TFR) – the average number of births per woman – decreased significantly from over 7 in the early 2000s, it remains high at 4.3 in 2021 and will probably continue to decline slowly.  The low use of contraceptives and the traditional preference for large families is keeping fertility elevated.  The high TFR and falling mortality rates continue to fuel a high population growth rate of nearly 2.2%, which is the highest in Southeast Asia.  The country’s high total dependency ratio – a measure of the ratio of dependents to the working-age population – could divert more government spending toward social programs. Timor-Leste’s growing, poorly educated working-age population and insufficient job creation are ongoing problems.  Some 70% of the population lives in rural areas, where most of people are dependent on the agricultural sector.  Malnutrition and poverty are prevalent, with 42% of the population living under the poverty line as of 2014.

During the Indonesian occupation (1975-1999) and Timor-Leste’s fight for independence, approximately 250,000 Timorese fled to western Timor and, in lesser numbers, Australia, Portugal, and other countries. Many of these emigrants later returned.  Since Timor-Leste’s 1999 independence referendum, economic motives and periods of conflict have been the main drivers of emigration.  Bilateral labor agreements with Australia, Malaysia, and South Korea and the presence of Timorese populations abroad, are pull factors, but the high cost prevents many young Timorese from emigrating.  Timorese communities are found in its former colonizers, Indonesia and Portugal, as well as the Philippines and the UK.  The country has also become a destination for migrants in the surrounding region, mainly men seeking work in construction, commerce, and services in Dili.

Age structure

0-14 years: 39.96% (male 284,353/female 268,562)

15-24 years: 20.32% (male 142,693/female 138,508)

25-54 years: 30.44% (male 202,331/female 218,914)

55-64 years: 5.22% (male 34,956/female 37,229)

65 years and over: 4.06% (male 27,153/female 29,024) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Timor-Leste. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 90.3

youth dependency ratio: 83.7

elderly dependency ratio: 6.6

potential support ratio: 15.2 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 19.6 years

male: 18.9 years

female: 20.2 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 200

Birth rate

31.45 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 27

Death rate

5.67 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 175

Net migration rate

-3.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 190

Population distribution

most of the population concentrated in the western third of the country, particularly around Dili

Urbanization

urban population: 31.7% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 3.31% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

281,000 DILI (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

23 years (2016 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

142 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 60

Infant mortality rate

total: 34.47 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 37.85 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 30.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 48

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 69.62 years

male: 67.94 years

female: 71.41 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 174

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 72.3% of population

total: 80.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 27.7% of population

total: 19.3% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.72 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 90.9% of population

rural: 50.3% of population

total: 62.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 9.1% of population

rural: 49.7% of population

total: 57.4% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 68.1%

male: 71.9%

female: 64.2% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 14 years

female: 13 years (2010)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 13.2%

male: 10.9%

female: 15.9% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 106

People - note

one of only two predominantly Christian nations in Southeast Asia, the other being the Philippines

Environment

Environment - current issues

air pollution and deterioration of air quality; greenhouse gas emissions; water quality, scarcity, and access; land and soil degradation; forest depletion; widespread use of slash and burn agriculture has led to deforestation and soil erosion; loss of biodiversity

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 17.88 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.5 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 4.74 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

tropical; hot, humid; distinct rainy and dry seasons

Land use

agricultural land: 25.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 10.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 4.9% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 10.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 49.1% (2018 est.)

other: 25.8% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 31.7% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 3.31% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 174

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 63,875 tons (2016 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 99 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 2 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 1.071 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

8.215 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

conventional short form: Timor-Leste

local long form: Republika Demokratika Timor Lorosa'e [Tetum]; Republica Democratica de Timor-Leste [Portuguese]

local short form: Timor Lorosa'e [Tetum]; Timor-Leste [Portuguese]

former: East Timor, Portuguese Timor

etymology: timor" derives from the Indonesian and Malay word "timur" meaning "east"; "leste" is the Portuguese word for "east", so "Timor-Leste" literally means "Eastern-East"; the local [Tetum] name "Timor Lorosa'e" translates as "East Rising Sun"

note: pronounced TEE-mor LESS-tay

Government type

semi-presidential republic

Capital

name: Dili

geographic coordinates: 8 35 S, 125 36 E

time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

12 municipalities (municipios, singular municipio) and 1 special adminstrative region* (regiao administrativa especial); Aileu, Ainaro, Baucau, Bobonaro (Maliana), Covalima (Suai), Dili, Ermera (Gleno), Lautem (Lospalos), Liquica, Manatuto, Manufahi (Same), Oe-Cusse Ambeno* (Pante Macassar), Viqueque

note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)

Independence

20 May 2002 (from Indonesia); note - 28 November 1975 was the date independence was proclaimed from Portugal; 20 May 2002 was the date of international recognition of Timor-Leste's independence from Indonesia

National holiday

Restoration of Independence Day, 20 May (2002); Proclamation of Independence Day, 28 November (1975)

Constitution

history: drafted 2001, approved 22 March 2002, entered into force 20 May 2002

amendments: proposed by Parliament and parliamentary groups; consideration of amendments requires at least four-fifths majority approval by Parliament; passage requires two-thirds majority vote by Parliament and promulgation by the president of the republic; passage of amendments to the republican form of government and the flag requires approval in a referendum

Legal system

civil law system based on the Portuguese model; note - penal and civil law codes to replace the Indonesian codes were passed by Parliament and promulgated in 2009 and 2011, respectively

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Timor-Leste

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Suffrage

17 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Francisco GUTERRES (since 20 May 2017); note - the president is commander in chief of the military and is able to veto legislation, dissolve parliament, and call national elections

head of government: Prime Minister Taur Matan RUAK (since 22 June 2018); note - President GUTERRES dissolved parliament because of an impasse over passing the country's budget on 26 January 2018, with then Prime Minister Mari ALKATIRI assuming the role of caretaker prime minister until a new prime minister was appointed; note - on 25 February 2020, Prime Minister RUAK offered his resignation due to inability to pass 2020 budget in parliament, but the president refused his offer; on 8 April, RUAK withdrew his resignation

cabinet: the governing coalition in the Parliament proposes cabinet member candidates to the Prime Minister, who presents these recommendations to the President of the Republic for swearing in

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 20 March 2017 (next to be held in 2022); following parliamentary elections, the president appoints the leader of the majority party or majority coalition as the prime minister

election results: Francisco GUTERRES elected president; percent of vote - Francisco GUTERRES (FRETILIN) 57.1%, Antonio DA CONCEICAO (PD) 32.5%, Jose Luis GUTERRES (Frenti-Mudanca) 2.6%, Jose NEVES (independent) 2.3%, Luis Alves TILMAN (independent) 2.2%, other 3.4%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Parliament (65 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 12 May 2018 (next to be held in July 2023)

election results: percent of vote by party - AMP - 49.6%, FRETILIN 34.2%, PD 8.1%, DDF 5.5%, other 2.6%; seats by party - AMP 34, FRETILIN 23, PD 5, DDF 3; composition - men 39, women 26, percent of women 40%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Court of Appeals (consists of the court president and NA judges)

judge selection and term of office: court president appointed by the president of the republic from among the other court judges to serve a 4-year term; other court judges appointed - 1 by the Parliament and the others by the Supreme Council for the Judiciary, a body chaired by the court president and that includes mostly presidential and parliamentary appointees; other judges serve for life

subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; High Administrative, Tax, and Audit Court; district courts; magistrates' courts; military courts

note: the UN Justice System Programme, launched in 2003 and being rolled out in 4 phases through 2018, is helping strengthen the country's justice system; the Programme is aligned with the country's long-range Justice Sector Strategic Plan, which includes legal reforms

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for Change and Progress or AMP [Xanana GUSMAO] (alliance includes CNRT, KHUNTO, PLP)
Democratic Development Forum or DDF
Democratic Party or PD
Frenti-Mudanca [Jose Luis GUTERRES]
Kmanek Haburas Unidade Nasional Timor Oan or KHUNTO
National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction or CNRT [Kay Rala Xanana GUSMAO]
People's Liberation Party or PLP [Taur Matan RUAK]
Revolutionary Front of Independent Timor-Leste or FRETILIN [Mari ALKATIRI]

International organization participation

ACP, ADB, AOSIS, ARF, ASEAN (observer), CPLP, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PIF (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WMO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Isilio Antonio De Fatima COELHO DA SILVA (since 6 January 2020)

chancery: 4201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 504, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 966-3202

FAX: [1] (202) 966-3205

email address and website:
info@timorlesteembassy.org

http://www.timorlesteembassy.org/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant), Charge d'Affaires Thomas DALEY (since August 2021)

embassy: Avenida de Portugal, Praia dos Coqueiros, Dili

mailing address: 8250 Dili Place, Washington, DC 20521-8250

telephone: (670) 332-4684, (670) 330-2400

FAX: (670) 331-3206

email address and website:
ConsDili@state.gov

https://tl.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

red with a black isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) superimposed on a slightly longer yellow arrowhead that extends to the center of the flag; a white star - pointing to the upper hoist-side corner of the flag - is in the center of the black triangle; yellow denotes the colonialism in Timor-Leste's past, black represents the obscurantism that needs to be overcome, red stands for the national liberation struggle; the white star symbolizes peace and serves as a guiding light

National symbol(s)

Mount Ramelau; national colors: red, yellow, black, white

National anthem

name: "Patria" (Fatherland)

lyrics/music: Fransisco Borja DA COSTA/Afonso DE ARAUJO

note: adopted 2002; the song was first used as an anthem when Timor-Leste declared its independence from Portugal in 1975; the lyricist, Francisco Borja DA COSTA, was killed in the Indonesian invasion just days after independence was declared

Economy

Economic overview

Since independence in 1999, Timor-Leste has faced great challenges in rebuilding its infrastructure, strengthening the civil administration, and generating jobs for young people entering the work force. The development of offshore oil and gas resources has greatly supplemented government revenues. This technology-intensive industry, however, has done little to create jobs in part because there are no production facilities in Timor-Leste. Gas is currently piped to Australia for processing, but Timor-Leste has expressed interest in developing a domestic processing capability.

In June 2005, the National Parliament unanimously approved the creation of the Timor-Leste Petroleum Fund to serve as a repository for all petroleum revenues and to preserve the value of Timor-Leste's petroleum wealth for future generations. The Fund held assets of $16 billion, as of mid-2016. Oil accounts for over 90% of government revenues, and the drop in the price of oil in 2014-16 has led to concerns about the long-term sustainability of government spending. Timor-Leste compensated for the decline in price by exporting more oil. The Ministry of Finance maintains that the Petroleum Fund is sufficient to sustain government operations for the foreseeable future.

Annual government budget expenditures increased markedly between 2009 and 2012 but dropped significantly through 2016. Historically, the government failed to spend as much as its budget allowed. The government has focused significant resources on basic infrastructure, including electricity and roads, but limited experience in procurement and infrastructure building has hampered these projects. The underlying economic policy challenge the country faces remains how best to use oil-and-gas wealth to lift the non-oil economy onto a higher growth path and to reduce poverty.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$4.19 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$4.59 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$3.87 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 182

Real GDP growth rate

-4.6% (2017 est.)

5.3% (2016 est.)

4% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 216

Real GDP per capita

$3,200 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$3,600 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$3,100 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 195

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.775 billion (2017 est.)

note: non-oil GDP

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 9.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 56.7% (2017 est.)

services: 34.4% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 33% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 30% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 10.6% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 78.4% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -52% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, maize, vegetables, coffee, roots/tubers nes, other meats, cassava, pork, beans, mangoes/guavas

Industries

printing, soap manufacturing, handicrafts, woven cloth

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 41%

industry: 13%

services: 45.1% (2013)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 4%

highest 10%: 27% (2007)

Budget

revenues: 300 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 2.4 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

3.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

3.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 206

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$284 million (2017 est.)

-$544 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 106

Exports

$60 million note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)

$120 million note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$120 million note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 213

Exports - partners

Singapore 51%, China 20%, Japan 9%, Indonesia 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

crude petroleum, natural gas, coffee, various vegetables, scrap iron (2019)

Imports

$850 million note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)

$1.04 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$1.06 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 195

Imports - partners

Indonesia 39%, China 27%, Singapore 10%, Malaysia 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, cement, delivery trucks, motorcycles (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$544.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$437.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

note: excludes assets of approximately $9.7 billion in the Petroleum Fund (31 December 2010)

country comparison to the world: 150

Debt - external

$311.5 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$687 million (31 December 2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 85.6% (2018)

electrification - urban areas: 100% (2018)

electrification - rural areas: 79.2% (2018)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 19

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,075

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 217

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 1,425,256

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 105.41 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 157

Telecommunication systems

general assessment:

following years of civil unrest, the government and operators are working toward regeneration of the economy and telecom infrastructure; service in urban and some rural areas expanding with competition; most of the population has access to 4G LTE service; increase in mobile-broadband penetration; government aims to boost e-government services with new national terrestrial fiber-optic network; launch of satellite and approval for submarine cable link to Australia will boost sector growth; importer of broadcasting equipment from Indonesia and China (2021)

(2020)

domestic: system suffered significant damage during the violence associated with independence; limited fixed-line services, less than 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular services have been expanding and are now available in urban and most rural areas with teledensity of 110 per 100 (2019)

international: country code - 670;  international service is available; partnership with Australia telecom companies for potential deployment of a submarine fiber-optic link (NWCS); geostationary earth orbit satellite

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

7 TV stations (3 nationwide satellite coverage; 2 terrestrial coverage, mostly in Dili; 2 cable) and 21 radio stations (3 nationwide coverage) (2019)

Internet users

total: 363,398

percent of population: 27.49% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 162

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 600

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 199

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 2

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 2 (2013)

Heliports

8 (2013)

Roadways

total: 6,040 km (2008)

paved: 2,600 km (2008)

unpaved: 3,440 km (2008)

country comparison to the world: 143

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Dili

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Timor-Leste Defense Force (Falintil-Forcas de Defesa de Timor-L'este, Falintil (F-FDTL)): Joint Headquarters with Land, Air, Naval, Service Support, and Education/Training components (2021)

Military expenditures

1.5% of GDP (2020 est.)

1% of GDP (2019)

0.7% of GDP (2018)

0.9% of GDP (2017)

1% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 87

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Timor-Leste Defense Force is comprised of approximately 2,000 personnel (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

Timor-Leste Defense Force's limited inventory consists of equipment donated by other countries; the only recorded deliveries of major arms to Timor-Leste since 2010 are naval patrol craft from China and South Korea (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; 18-month service obligation (2019)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

three stretches of land borders with Indonesia have yet to be delimited, two of which are in the Oecussi exclave area, and no maritime or Economic Exclusion Zone boundaries have been established between the countries; maritime boundaries with Indonesia remain unresolved; Timor-Leste and Australia reached agreement on a treaty delimiting a permanent maritime boundary in March 2018; the treaty will enter into force once ratified by the two countries' parliaments

Trafficking in persons

current situation: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Timor-Leste, and traffickers exploit victims from Timor-Leste abroad; traffickers exploit Timorese women, girls, and occasionally young men and boys from rural areas in sex trafficking or domestic servitude; Timorese men are exploited in forced labor in agriculture, construction, and mining; families place children in bonded domestic and agricultural labor to pay debts; traffickers deceive young men and women with promises of a scholarship or employment opportunities in Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries in the region only taking them to a different county, taking their passports, and forcing them into labor, including domestic servitude; sex traffickers in Timor-Leste prey on foreign women from East and Southeast Asia; traffickers also recruit Timorese women to send them to China, Indonesia, or Malaysia for commercial sex

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Timor-Leste does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; efforts include re-establishing funding to NGOs for victim services and integrating an anti-trafficking curriculum for officials; however, authorities decreased investigations and convictions; victim protection services were inadequate, and no government-wide standard operating procedures for victim identification were implemented; understanding of trafficking remains low among officials (2020)