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    Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor, Portuguese Timor)  
Location
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) is the eastern half of Timor Island at the eastern end of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It includes the Oecusse Enclave in West Timor. To the west is the international border with West Timor (Timor Barat) in East Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia. To the south is the Timor Sea and beyond Australia.

Prewar and during World War II known as Portuguese Timor, a colony of Portugal. Today known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor). The nation is divided into thirteen municipalities (formally districts) including the Oecusse Municipality that is also a Special Administrative Region. The national capital is Dili.

Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) Locations
Município Dili (Dili Municipality)
Dili  located on the north coast of East Timor, national capital and largest city.
Dili Harbor  borders Dili on the north coast of Timor.
Taibesi  located to the east of Dili on the north coast of Timor.
Atauro Island  located to the north of Dili.
Município Bobonaro (Bobonaro Municipality)
Balibo  located on the north coast near the border between East Timor and West Timor.
Município Lautem (Lautem Municipality)
Lautem  located on the northeast coast of Timor Island.
Fuiloro  located at the center of Timor Island.
Cape Chater  located on the northeast coast of Timor Island.
Lore (Cape Lore)  located on the southern coast of Timor Island.
Oecusse Municipality and Special Administrative Region (Oecusse Enclave)

Pante Macassar (Pante Makasar)  located on the north coast of Timor island and municipal capital

Prewar
During 1515, the first Portuguese to arrived on Timor Island and by 1556 established a Catholic mission run Dominican friars. In 1702, became Portuguese Timor, a Portuguese colony (overseas province) of Portugal.

Wartime History
During World War II, Portugal was neutral. In December 1941, Dutch and Australian troops landed in East Timor, disrespecting Portuguese sovereignty but the East Timorese supported the Allied troops, while West Timorese were more hostile to them. During February 1942, the Japanese invaded East Timor.

East Timorese chose to help the Australians and many volunteered against the Japanese. The volunteers, called "creados," helped the Australian soldiers by carrying their ammunitions and spare back packs, and cooked for them. They were the personal assistant of these soldiers, their serfs. Others were used as trackers and informers. The East Timorese helped the Australians and stuck by them to the bitter end, even well after the Australians retreated from the island. All possible contacts with East Timorese were lost. The only contact the East Timorese had with the Australians were the "I owe you" leaflets dropped from high flying Australian war planes. The Japanese retaliated. People found collaborating with the Australians were tortured, then shot, beheaded or burned. Sometimes, a whole population was massacred, leaving only the life stock for the Japanese soldiers to loot and women were taken as sex slaves.

During World War II, an estimated 45,000 East Timorese died, most for assisting the 400 Australian soldiers. On September 11, 1945 Japanese forces in East Timor officially surrendered to the Allies.

Postwar
Afterwards, Portuguese colonial rule was reestablished with Dili again the capital of Portuguese Timor. During 1974, Portugal abandoned its colonies, causing a civil war between factions on Timor Island. On November 28, 1975 East Timor declared independence.

On December 7, 1975 at dawn Indonesian forces began bombarding Dili and an amphibious landing from Dili Harbor supported by paratroopers. After a six hour battle with FALINTIL forces, the armed military wing of Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin). By noon, Indonesian forces secured Dili with the defenders fleeing. The battle resulted in 35 Indonesian dead and 122 FALINTIL dead. On December 10, 1975 Indonesian forces landed at Baucau followed by landings on December 25, 1975 at Liquisa and Maubara. By the end of the year roughly 30,000 Indonesian forces occupied East Timor and began killing civlians with the defenders reduced to guerrilla actions against them and a stalemate situation.

On July 17, 1976 Indonesia declared East Timor its 27th province. In early 1977 the Indonesian military began the "final solution" to encircle and annihilate the last resistance using brutal bombings of villages in the interior that resisted and shooting those that surrendered. Fighting in the interior, the Indonesians lost roughly 1,000 troops. On December 31 1978 Timorese President and military commander, Nicolau Lobato, was shot and killed and resistance went underground. An estimated one third of the population of East Timorese died, estimated to be 100,000 to 200,000 from all causees due to the Indonesian invasion. The Indonesian military lost roughly 2,000 during the entire Operation.

In 1998, Indonesian President Habibie expressed that a referendum vote be held for East Timor to remain a part of Indonesia as a Special Autonomous Region or become independent. After the independence referendum on August 30, 1999 a 78.5% majority of East Timorese voted for independence. Afterwards, pro-Indonesian militia launched a campaign of arson, murder and destruction to intimidate the population.

On September, 20, 1999 the first Australian Defense Force (ADF) soldiers were deployed to Dili as part of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET), to bring peace to East Timor under a United Nations (U. N.) mandate. Peacekeeping forces used the Dili and Dili Airport as their base. The Australian Defense Force (ADF) peace keeping force deployed was their the largest military deployment since the Second World War.

Today
On May 20, 2002 the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) was established with Dili the national capital and largest city.

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Last Updated
August 17, 2019

 

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