Understand East Timor
The eastern half of the island of Timor, East Timor, is a former Portuguese colony that declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975. Nine days later, Indonesian forces invaded and occupied the former colony, with the tacit approval of the United States and Australia. By July 1976 the colony had been annexed as the province of Timor Timur.
Over the next two decades, Indonesia integrated the colony, with many significant positions of authority being occupied by Indonesians rather than the East Timorese. An estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals are believed to have lost their lives during a campaign of pacification during this time.
The United Nations supervised a popular referendum on 30 August 1999, in which the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. After the results were announced, gangs of independence opponents, supported by the Indonesian military, terrorised the population in a civil war that destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. A United Nations peacekeeping force led by Australian forces was sent in to re-establish a civil society and reconstruct the nation.
On 20 May 2002, East Timor was internationally recognized as an independent state under the official name of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste.
East Timor has a hot and humid climate (tropical). November to May is the wet season with the temperatures averaging 30ºC the year round, with temperatures far cooler in higher altitude areas.
The dry season lasts for about 6 months during June to October.
The wet season can damage the roads in East Timor, making travel difficult to remote district areas during this time.