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East Timor:
Geography

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East Timor Page


Background
Definition
The Portuguese began to trade with the island of Timor in the early 16th century and colonized it in mid-century. 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 individuals lost their lives. On 30 August 1999, in a UN-supervised popular referendum, an overwhelming majority of the people of Timor-Leste voted for independence from Indonesia. Between the referendum and the arrival of a multinational peacekeeping force in late September 1999, 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 forcibly pushed 300,000 people into western Timor as refugees. The majority of the country's infrastructure, including homes, irrigation systems, water supply systems, and schools, and nearly 100% of the country's electrical grid were destroyed. On 20 September 1999 the Australian-led peacekeeping troops of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) 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 late April 2006, internal tensions threatened the new nation's security when a military strike led to violence and a near breakdown of law and order in Dili. At the request of the Government of Timor-Leste, an Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) deployed to Timor-Leste in late May. In August, the UN Security Council established the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which included an authorized police presence of over 1,600 personnel. In subsequent months, many of the ISF soldiers were replaced by UN police officers; approximately 80 ISF officers remained as of January 2008. From April to June 2007, the Government of Timor-Leste held presidential and parliamentary elections in a largely peaceful atmosphere with the support and assistance of UNMIT and international donors.
Location
Definition
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
Definition
8 50 S, 125 55 E
Map references
Definition
Southeast Asia
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 15,007 sq km
land: NA sq km
water: NA sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly larger than Connecticut
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 228 km
border countries: Indonesia 228 km
Coastline
Definition
706 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate
Definition
tropical; hot, humid; distinct rainy and dry seasons
Terrain
Definition
mountainous
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Timor Sea, Savu Sea, and Banda Sea 0 m
highest point: Foho Tatamailau 2,963 m
Natural resources
Definition
gold, petroleum, natural gas, manganese, marble
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 8.2%
permanent crops: 4.57%
other: 87.23% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
1,065 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards
Definition
floods and landslides are common; earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones
Environment - current issues
Definition
widespread use of slash and burn agriculture has led to deforestation and soil erosion
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Climate Change, Desertification
Geography - note
Definition
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


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