East Timor Government and Politics

According to AllCityCodes.com, East Timor became an independent state in 2002. The constitution of 2002 was drafted according to Portuguese examples, and the country is a democratic, unified state, presidential republic. The president is elected in direct elections for five years with the possibility of one re-election. The president has primarily ceremonial functions, but is formally military commander and can also veto laws and dissolve parliament. The president has an advisory national council. Legislative authority has been added to a single-chamber parliament. It has between 52 and 65 members, elected for five years. The first parliamentary elections were held in 2007, the 88-member constitutional assembly served as parliament in 2002–07. The government is accountable to Parliament; the president appoints the prime minister. The political system is under development.

East Timor Country Flag

Reference: East Timor Flag Meaning

Administrative division

Administrative division. East Timor is divided into 13 administrative districts. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of TP and its meanings of East Timor.


From 2002, a temporary law came into force, prepared by the UN. The transition to civil law has been going on since, and a civil and criminal code was introduced in 2006, based on Portuguese examples. A Supreme Court was established in 2006, the leader appointed by parliament.

East Timor’s defense

East Timor’s total force is 2280 active personnel in the army, of which 80 are personnel in a sea component. The army is very easily equipped. The sea component has seven patrol boats, and a small air component has one light aircraft.


In 2001, a new East Timorese defense force was established which gradually took over the peacekeeping tasks of the UN Transitional Administration and the UN Peacekeeping Force (UNMISET). This was withdrawn in 2005.

History and Politics

The first traces of human settlement

The earliest traces of human settlement in East Timor are estimated to be around 42,000 years old. They were found in the east of the archipelago. The finds consisted of stone tools and jewelry, as well as remains of food such as turtle shells and bones that came from the now extinct giant rats.

Various deep sea fishing tools have also been discovered in East Timor. These show that people were able to catch fish far from the coast 42,000 years ago. For example, a fish hook was found that was made from the shell of a sea snail and is said to be up to 23,000 years old. This makes it the oldest fishhook ever found.

The three population waves

It is believed that the Timorese people are the descendants of three immigrant groups. This theory would also explain the country’s cultural and ethnic diversity. It is interesting that all ethnic groups in Timor refer to themselves as immigrants. How powerful a group was depended on when its ancestors immigrated. The rule was: the earlier the immigration, the higher the status in the traditional power structure in Timor.

First wave

The first group of immigrants were the Vedo-Austronesian peoples around 40,000 to 20,000 BC. They came to Timor during the last ice age and reached the country from the north and west. At that time the Sunda Islands were still connected by land bridges and the sections that were covered by the sea were much narrower. This group had very dark skin and straight black hair. Outwardly, some locals still resemble these ancestors today.

Second wave

The second group, the Melanesians, migrated around 3000 BC A. They came from the west and supplemented the life of the hunter-gatherer with tools for agriculture, the importation of tropical fruits and various techniques of handicraft.

Third wave

The third wave of immigration consisted of the Austronesians. The Austronesians were a group from southern China and came around 2500 BC. To Timor. According to later traditions of the Portuguese, the archipelago was then divided into three domains. These were fragmented and although some of the empires were linked by marriage and alliance policies, conflicts arose regularly.

Secret village stories

Today it is not so easy to find out much about the ancient Timorese people. This is because there are no scriptures. The Timorese peoples didn’t see them until later. There are only oral traditions. Many are from the Bunak people of central Timor. They record their tribal history in picture stories and rhymes. These were taught more and more to the descendants, so that some traditions actually still exist today. However, you shouldn’t just tell these stories around, because they are secret. The telling of the story is usually only allowed to two or three people from a village and even they are only allowed to pass on knowledge about their own village, but not about that of their neighbors. It also happens that many stories contradict each other quite a bit.

Colonialism in Timor

In 1515 the Portuguese founded the colony “Portuguese Timor” on Timor. In addition to disputes with the local population, there were regular conflicts with Norwegian colonies in the west of the country. It was not until 1916 that the border between the colonies was finally determined.

The battle for Timor

During the Second World War, the Japanese occupied the islands of Timor. A proxy war broke out between the Allies, among them mostly Dutch but also Australian troops, and the Japanese occupiers. Timorese also took part in the guerrilla war on both sides.

The Portuguese colony, which had actually declared itself neutral, supported the Allies with food and relief supplies. After the capitulation of Japan, Portugal sought a position as a colonial power. In this way, East Timor got the status of a Portuguese overseas province in 1951, while a new state was established in the west.

A long road to independence

A coup took place in Portugal in 1974. The new rulers released most of the Portuguese colonies, including East Timor, into independence. The independence of the entire country seemed within reach, but there was still a long way to go. Because soon a conflict flared up between the two warring parties UDT and FRETILIN. After numerous fights, the FRETILIN party won and proclaimed the country’s independence in November 1975.

However, just nine days later, Indonesia declared large parts of the east of the country its own national territory and thus the 27th province of Indonesia. 24 years of Indonesian occupation followed. Almost every fourth of the 800,000 inhabitants was killed.

It was not until 1999 that Indonesia, the UN and Portugal agreed on a vote on the country’s independence. The vote went in favor of the independence advocates. After three more years in UN administration, East Timor became the first state to proclaim its independence in the 21st century. The country also became a UN member in 2002.

Disagreement among the parties

There were repeated conflicts and riots between the opposing parties in East Timor after independence was proclaimed. Soon the United Nations found itself forced to intervene in this conflict. They sent troops under predominantly Australian leadership to end the violent unrest.

Although the troops were able to contain the clashes between the parties and the country developed positively until 2006, fighting broke out again four years later. And again troops were sent to intervene. These so-called ISF troops were only withdrawn in 2012 after the rebel leaders were killed in an exchange of fire.

Politics today

The constitution of East Timor is heavily influenced by the Portuguese. It is based on a basic democratic order and is similar in content and structure to the German Basic Law.

Due to the Indonesian occupation, a large part of the population is very suspicious of the government. The Indonesian occupiers used a “strategy of tension” to stoke fear among the locals for years in order to prevent uprisings. There have been regular arbitrary arrests and murders commissioned by the government. But it was just as dangerous to start rumors. The secret resistance groups also used similar methods to stir up fear among the occupiers.

Even after the occupation of the country by Indonesia and until today, the population is susceptible to rumors and conspiracy theories. These spread through text messages, word of mouth and internet blogs. Nevertheless, the country has stabilized significantly since the UN intervention. According to a 2008 survey, three out of four people are very satisfied with the work of the United Nations in their own country.

Timor-Leste is now classified as the most democratic country in Southeast Asia. Many residents are proud of the country’s development. Meanwhile, children’s rights and women’s rights are also anchored in the constitution. The same applies to equality.

East Timor Head of Government

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