FAQ’s about East Timor

Where is East Timor?

Map of East Timor

By Scartol (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

East Timor Map by Scartol via Wikimedia Commons

Location of East Timor

East Timor is located in Southeast Asia. It is part of the Indonesian archipelago which is  650+Kms North West of Australia.

East Timor boundaries

East Timor Map by Peter Fitzgerald via Wikimedia Commons

East Timor Map by Peter Fitzgerald via Wikimedia Commons

The Eastern end of the Lesser Sunda Islands is known as East Timor (light grey color on map above). Also part of East Timor is Jaco Island, Atauro Island and Oecussi (Pante Makasar on map located in Indonesia). East Timor shares a land border with Indonesia (West Timor).


8.8484° S, 125.5942° E

Surrounding seas

East Timor lies within the Indian Ocean (South) and Banda Sea (North).

Land area

The land area of East Timor is approximately 14,874 km²

Governement and Politics of East Timor

Prime Minister of East Timor

Timor-Leste Prime Minister Visits New Zealand
Prime Minister: Xanana Gusmão Party: National Congress for the Reconstruction of Timor (CNRT) party Term: 5 years (next election due in (2017) Official website: timor-leste.gov.tl In the legislative elections held in July 2012 the CNRT party received 36.68% of votes, next was Fretilin on 29.89%, the Democratic Party 10.30% and Frenti Mudansa 3.11%.

President of East Timor

President: Taur Matan Ruak (‘two sharp eyes’ in Tetum) Party: Independent Term: 5 years (next election due in (2017) Official website:  presidenciarepublica.tl Former Chief of the Military, Taur Matan Ruak replaced Dr Jose Ramos-Horta as President on 20 May 2012 following the Presidential elections held in March and April 2012.
If you are interested in more information about the 2012 election results, Development Seed have produced a great visual map of the results.

Background to politics in East Timor

  • In August 1999, the UN sponsored a referendum which saw Timor-Leste choose its independence from Indonesia
  • On the 30th August 2001, the first democratic elections were held
  • East Timor’s independence was formally achieved on 20th May 2002 when East Timor’s Constitution was approved.
  • East Timor’s constitution is based on the Portuguese’s system: a Prime Minister is chosen from a political party to form the Government and a President is also elected as head of State

Political parties of East Timor

  • Democratic Party (PD)
  • National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT)
  • National Democratic Union of Timorese Resistance (UNDERTIM)
  • National Unity Party (PUN)
  • People’s Party of Timor (PPT)
  • Revolutionary Front of Independent Timor-Leste (FRETILIN)
  • Social Democratic Association of Timor (ASDT)
  • Social Democratic Party (PSD)
  • Sons of the Mountain Warriors (KOTA)
Currency and economy


The currency of East Timor is US dollars. East Timor also has its own set of coins (as shown below).

us dollars
timor coins
Our tip: If you are getting your visa on arrival, make sure you bring some US dollars with you (small notes are best e.g. $1, $5, $10, $20).


Recent economic indicators in East Timor

recent economi indicators for East Timor

Table from Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade country economic fact sheet for East Timor

Importing and exporting

“Last year East Timor exported goods worth only $US16 million, mainly coffee, but imported goods worth $US288 million.” Lindsay Murdoch, SMH article: Shadow of the past haunt nations future

  • East Timor’s imports goods predominantly from Australia, Indonesia and Singapore.
  • East Timor mainly exports goods to Australia, New Zealand and America.


Coffee is East Timor’s main export. Some of the buyers and exportes include: Coorperative Cafe Timor, Elsa Cafe, Timor Corp and Delta Cafe.

Resource and development curse

East Timor’s economy is propped up by petroleum revenue (valued in 2012 at being worth $10.35 billion) and almost all business activity is supported by donors or aid money.

Relevant readings:

The Economist: Small country, big year SMH article: Shadow of the past haunt nations future IMF: IMF Executive Board Concludes 2011 Article IV Consultation with the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste DFAT: Country economic fact sheet for East Timor

Flag of East Timor
Timorese flag at sunset by Kate Dixon via Wikimedia Commons

Timorese flag at sunset by Kate Dixon via Wikimedia Commons

Meaning behind East Timor’s flag East Timor Flag and meaning

Meanings of flag colours taken from Government of Timor-Leste’s website.

Capital of East Timor
Dili and Atauro Island by Nick Hobgood via Wikimedia Commons

Dili and Atauro Island by Nick Hobgood (Uploaded on Flickr as CC-BY-SA-2.0 ), via Wikimedia Commons

The capital of East Timor is Dili. The city of Dili straddles the northern coastline of the country and is framed by rising hills in the background. Looking across the water from the capital, the spectacular Atauro Island can be seen.

List of Public Holidays
Airports in East Timor

All international flights land in Dili.

  • Dili: Nicolau dos Reis Lobato Airport

Other airports:

  • Atauro Island: Atauro airport
  • Baucau: Cakung airport
  • Fuiloro: Abisu airfield
  • Maliana: Maliana airport
  • Oecussi: Oecussi airport
  • Suai: Suai airport (Covalima airport)
  • Viqueque: Viqueque airport

Who flys to East

Air North (Darwin to Dili) Sriwijaya Air (Denpasar/Bali to Dili) Air Timor operated by SilkAir and Garuda- (Singapore to Dili, Dili to Denpasar/Bali)

Climate of East Timor
East Timor is a tropical island complete with a wet and dry season. Wet season: The wet season starts in December and finishes in April. The average temperatures in the wet season are between 29- 35°C. Dry season: The dry season begins in May and ends in November. The average temperature in the dry season is 20- 33°C.

Climate East Timor- graph charting the average temperature in 3 of East Timor’s cities (Dili, Baucau and Ermera)

climate graph of East Timor


Percentage of population by religion from East Timor’s 2010 census:

  • Catholic: 96.9
  • Protestant / Evangelical: 2.2
  • Islam: 0.3
  • Other: 0.5
Districts of East Timor
Map of the districts of East Timor, with ISO standard names by Golbez via wiki commons

Image: Map of the districts of East Timor, with ISO standard names. Made by User:Golbez.

Districts of East Timor

East Timor is divided into thirteen districts.

What is a district?

A district is an administrative area. It’s like a state. Each district has it’s own capital city and is also divided into smaller subdistricts. These subdistricts are then further divided into sucos or villages.

What are the thirteen districts of East Timor?

  1. Aileu
  2. Ainaro
  3. Baucau
  4. Bobonaro
  5. Cova-Lima
  6. Díli
  7. Ermera
  8. Lautém
  9. Liquiçá
  10. Manatuto
  11. Manufahi
  12. Oecussi-Ambeno
  13. Viqueque

Spelling- is it Districts or districts?

You use a lower case “d” when spelling districts. For more information on East Timor’s districts please see the Government of Timor Leste’s website.

Population of East Timor
The population of East Timor is 1,066,409. This figure is taken from East Timor’s 2010 census.