GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE
Timor-Leste is located in Southeast Asia, between Indonesia and Australia. The country's size is approximately 15,410 km2. It is classified as one of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Timor-Leste is part of Maritime Southeast Asia, and is the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands in the Malay Archipelago: Timor is a Malay word which means “east”. To the north of the island are the Ombai Strait,Wetar Strait, and the greater Banda Sea. Timor-Leste has two separate islands, namely Ataúro Island which is situated in the northern part of the country and Jaco Island is the smallest island which is situated at the eastern extremity of the territory.
Source: UNDP (2011)
Most of the country is mountainous; Tatamailau, also known as Mount Ramelau, is the highest peak at 2,963 metres. Timor-Leste has tropical climate, which is generally hot and humid, characterised by distinct rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season runs from November to March and the dry season is between the months of April and October. Temperatures are around 30°C year-round in lowland areas, dropping to the low 20s overnight. Mountainous areas are generally cooler and can drop to as low as 15°C at higher altitudes.
Timor-Leste was colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, and occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War from 1942-1943. Portuguese rule was restored after the war and lasted until 1974. The Portuguese withdrawal was followed by a short-lived period of independence and the subsequent invasion and occupation by Indonesia, for a 24-year period from 1975 to 1999. The Indonesian period came to an end after a popular consultation in which the Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence. The transition was managed by the United Nations, which administered the country until the Restoration of Independence on May 20th, 2002, when Timor-Leste officially became a new nation.
English speaking countries often refer to Timor-Leste as East Timor. In the local language, the country’s name is sometimes given as Timor Lorosa’e, but the it is sometimes and Timor-Leste, people think that there are two different counties, but actually in English is known as East Timor and Timor-Leste is in Portuguese language, and also in local language it is called Timor Lorosa’e. However, the official name of the country under the constitution is the República Democrática de Timor-Leste.
Timor-Leste’s native Austronesian culture also reflects a variety of modern influences, most significantly Portuguese, Roman Catholic and Malay. Legend tells that a giant crocodile was transformed into the island of Timor, or Crocodile Island, as it is frequently called. As in some parts of Indonesia, ancient Austronesian legends and animist beliefs still persist side-by-side with the stronger Roman Catholic influence and the vast majority of the people of Timor-Leste are of that faith.