|Railway cargo containers|
East Timor is a country in Southeast Asia, officially known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. The country comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor and the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco. The first inhabitants are thought to be descendant of Australoid and Melanesian peoples. The Portuguese began to trade with Timor by the early 16th century and colonized it throughout the mid-century. Skirmishing with the Dutch in the region eventually resulted in an 1859 treaty for which Portugal ceded the western half of the island. Imperial Japan occupied East Timor during World War II, but Portugal resumed colonial authority after the Japanese surrender.
The estimated maximum market for financial services in Timor-Leste is small by international standards at 434,575 people. This market includes an estimated 275,300 economically active poor people (between 15-64 years of age), who can benefit from microfinance services. The estimated minimum market is thus comprised of 58,575 households, of which 46,860 reside in rural areas. The main financial service suppliers in Timor-Leste include three foreign-owned, commercial banks; four specialized microfinance institutions (MFIs), one of which is regulated by the Banking and Payments Authority (BPA) while the other three are NGOs; three savings and credit cooperatives with a membership of more than the 250 people, and at least eight non-financially specialized NGOs, of which four are members of the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Timor-Leste, AMFITIL. As of September 2004, the total outreach of these financial service providers is comprised of 56,896 savers having deposited USD 88.09 million with the institutions, 97.6% of these deposits with the commercial banks; and 27,816 borrowers, 47% of whom are clients of the specialized MFIs. As such, the financial service suppliers currently reach 13% of the total (maximum) market with saving services, but only 6% are accessing credit. The total outstanding loan portfolio amounts to USD 67.82 million. The providers each serve their core segment of the market, and especially the MFIs and the NGOs are reaching deep into the segments of very poor clients. Average loan size outstanding ranges from USD 6,600 – 94,100 among the commercial banks, while loans from cooperatives average USD 420. Borrowers of MFIs have an average of USD 92 outstanding, while NGO loans average USD 77. While the geographic coverage of financial service provider’s spans 11 of the 13 districts in Timor-Leste, the client coverage in each district, except for Dili, is still thin at 1-20%. The quality of the portfolio deteriorates with the level of specialization from a Portfolio at Risk (30) of approximately 4% for commercial banks to 8.6% for MFIs, 22% for cooperatives and 35% for NGOs. Of all the providers, only two banks and one cooperative are profitable in 2004, but progress towards coverage of costs has increased to just below 50% among the MFIs since the end of 2003.
|Agriculture||coffee, maize, bananas, tobacco, cassava, sisal, cotton , rice, sweet potatoes, soy beans, cabbage, cow peas, mangoes, vanilla, mung beans, taro, onions, peanuts|
|Services (Including financial)||55% (2005 estimate)|
|3M Construction Novelty||Construction|
|Landmarking trading Pvt. Ltd||Food|
|Star Agro-Industry Unip Lda||Agro Industry|
|SM Bark Venilla and Coffee beans exporter||Food|
|Railway cargo containers|
Unrest started in the country in April 2006 following riots in Dili. A rally in support of 600 East Timorese soldiers, who were dismissed for deserting their barracks, turned into rioting where five people were killed and over 20,000 fled their homes. Fierce fighting between pro-government troops and disaffected Falintil troops broke out in May 2006. While unclear, the motives behind the fighting appeared to be the distribution of oil funds and the poor organization of the Timorese army and police, which included former Indonesian-trained police and former Timorese rebels. Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri called the violence a "coup" and welcomed offers of foreign military assistance from several nations. As of 25 May 2006, Australia, Portugal, New Zealand, and Malaysia sent troops to Timor, attempting to quell the violence. At least 23 deaths occurred as a result of the violence.
On 21 June 2006, President Xanana Gusmão formally requested Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri step down. Most Fretilin party members demanded the prime minister's resignation, accusing him of lying about distributing weapons to civilians. On 26 June 2006 Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri resigned stating, " I declare I am ready to resign my position as prime minister of the government… so as to avoid the resignation of His Excellency the President of the Republic" In August, rebel leader Alfredo Reinado escaped from Becora Prison, in Dili. Tensions were later raised after armed clashes between youth gangs forced the closure of Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport in late October.
In April 2007, Gusmão declined another presidential term. In the build-up to the April 2007 presidential elections, there were renewed outbreaks of violence in February and March 2007. José Ramos-Horta was inaugurated as President on 20 May 2007, following his election win in the second round. Gusmão was sworn in as Prime Minister on 8 August 2007. President Ramos-Horta was critically injured in an assassination attempt on 11 February 2008, in a failed coup apparently perpetrated by Alfredo Reinado, a renegade soldier who died in the attack. Prime Minister Gusmão also faced gunfire separately but escaped unharmed. The Australian government immediately sent reinforcements to East Timor to keep order.
New Zealand announced in early November 2012, it would be pulling its troops out of the country, saying the country was now stable and calm. Five New Zealand troops were killed in the 13 years the country had a military presence in East Timor.
East Timor declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975 but was invaded by neighboring Indonesia nine days later. The country was later incorporated as the province of Indonesia afterward. During the subsequent two-decade occupation, a campaign of pacification ensued. Although Indonesia did make a substantial investment in infrastructures during its occupation in East Timor, dissatisfaction remained widespread. Between 1975 and 1999, there were an estimated about 102,800 conflict-related deaths (approximately 18,600 killings and 84,200 'excess' deaths from hunger and illness), most of which occurred during the Indonesian occupation.
On 30 August 1999, in an UN-sponsored referendum, an overwhelming majority of East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia. Immediately following the referendum, anti-independence Timorese militias — organized and supported by the Indonesian military — commenced a punitive scorched-earth campaign. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and forcibly pushed 300,000 people into West Timor as refugees. Most of the country's infrastructure was destroyed during this punitive attack. On 20 September 1999, the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) was deployed to the country and brought the violence to an end. Following a United Nations-administered transition period, East Timor was internationally recognized as an independent nation on 20 May 2002.
The island of Timor was populated as part of the human migrations that have shaped Australasia more generally. It is believed that survivors from three waves of migration still live in the country. The first is described by anthropologists as people of the Veddo-Australoid type, who arrived from the north and west at least 42,000 years ago. In 2011 evidence was uncovered, at the Jerimalai cave site, showing that these early settlers had high-level maritime skills now, and by implication the technology needed to make ocean crossings to reach Australia and other islands, as they were catching and consuming large numbers of big deep sea fish such as tuna. This is the earliest evidence of advanced deep sea fishing technology found anywhere in the world. These excavations also discovered the world’s earliest recorded fish hook from a later time at 11,000 years old.
Around 3000 BC, a second migration brought Melanesians. The earlier Veddo-Australoid peoples withdrew now to the mountainous interior. Finally, proto-Malays arrived from south China and north Indochina. Hakka traders are among those descended from this final group. Timorese origin myths tell of ancestors that sailed around the eastern end of Timor arriving on land in the south. Some stories recount Timorese ancestors journeying from the Malay Peninsula or the Minangkabau Highlands of Sumatra.
The later Timorese were not seafarers, rather they were land focused peoples who did not contact other islands and peoples by sea. Timor was part of a region of small islands with small populations of similarly land-focused peoples that now make up eastern Indonesia. Contact with the outside world was via networks of foreign seafaring traders from as far as China and India that served the archipelago. The earliest historical record about Timor Island is 14th-century Nagarakretagama, Canto 14, that identify Timur as an island within Majapahit's realm. Outside products brought to the region included metal goods, rice, fine textiles, and coins exchanged for local spices, sandalwood, deer horn, bees' wax, and slaves.
Early European explorers report that the island had several small chiefdoms or princedoms in the early 16th century. One of the most significant is the Wehali kingdom in central Timor, to which the Tetum, Bunaq, and Kemak ethnic groups were aligned.
The administration of East Timor was taken over by the UN through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), established on 25 October 1999. The INTERFET deployment ended on 14 February 2000 with the transfer of military command to the UN. Elections were held in late 2001 for a constituent assembly to draft a constitution, a task finished in February 2002. East Timor became formally independent on 20 May 2002. Xanana Gusmão was sworn in as the country's President. East Timor became a member of the UN on 27 September 2002.
On 4 December 2002, after a student had been arrested the previous day, rioting students set fire to the house of the Prime Minister Marí Alkatiri and advanced on the police station. The police opened fire and one student was killed, whose body the students carried to the National Parliament building. There they fought the police, set a supermarket on fire and plundered shops. The police opened fire again and four more students were killed. Alkatiri called an inquiry and blamed foreign influence for the violence.
Relations with Australia have been strained by disputes over the maritime boundary between the two countries. Canberra claims petroleum and natural gas fields in an area known as the 'Timor Gap', which East Timor regards as lying within its maritime boundaries.
Relations with Indonesia have been cordial. The two countries have defined most of their borders. In 2005, the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor reported on human rights violations in a period of Indonesian rule and the year before and offered the first national history of East Timor driven by Timorese oral histories. In 2008, the Indonesia–Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship confirmed most of the earlier Commission's findings.
(President & Prime Minister)
(Award Winner, Nobel Peace)
By Regulation 2000/7 of 24 January 2000, the United States dollar (US$) became the new legal tender in East Timor. This means that all official transactions must be carried out in US$. For example, payments of your electricity bill will have to be made in US$. However, if you want to, you can use other currencies present in East Timor - the Indonesian rupiah, Australian dollar, Portuguese escudo, and Thai baht - for everyday business. The US$ was chosen because it is a strong and stable currency and is widely accepted around the world. The decision to adopt the US$ was made by the National Consultative Council (NCC). The NCC represents East Timorese in all of UNTAET's major decisions. Eleven of the 15 NCC members are East Timorese delegates: seven represent the CNRT; three represent non-CNRT groups, and one represents the Catholic Church.
Prior to the adoption of the United States dollar as the new legal tender in Timor-Leste in 2000, use of the Indonesian Rupiah, creation of a national currency, and adoption of the Australian dollar were discussed.
The use of the Indonesian Rupiah as the legal currency in Timor-Leste post-independence was ruled out notwithstanding the widespread use of the Rupiah pre-independence and its use as the currency for trade. The case against the Rupiah was based on its instability resulting from ongoing political turmoil and a barely functioning Indonesian economy following the 1997 economic collapse. Most significantly, politics played a major role in rejecting the Rupiah, reflecting the bitterness of the struggle between the two nations.
Despite the symbolic value of a national currency for Timor-Leste as a statement of independence and national unity, the creation of such a currency was ruled out primarily due to a lack of personnel educated and trained in economics and finance. The nation simply did not have the human resources necessary to manage a currency system for either a fixed or floating currency.
The initial step in choosing a national currency involves determining whether the nation will adopt a fixed or flexible exchange rate in relation to other currencies. In the case of a flexible exchange rate, Timor-Leste did not have resources needed to be able to set interest rates and manage a float. In the case of a fixed currency, it did not have the skills available to set and defend the appropriate exchange rate. Fixing the currency at too high a rate will damage export and foreign investment prospects and will reduce the credibility that the exchange rate can be maintained, and fixing at too low a rate may result in inflationary pressures. The same concerns apply to the use of a currency board to manage the exchange rate.
Dollarization became the most attractive and least demanding option for Timor-Leste. The dollarization debate centered on the adoption of the US or the Australian dollar. There are several downsides of using the US dollar. The denomination of US dollar notes is too high for many of the smaller transactions. In addition, the strength of the US dollar could price Timor-Leste’s products out of the global market. Despite the importance of Australia as a key trading partner, the geographical proximity of Australia to Timor, and the advantage of the Australian dollar as a commodity currency (a currency of a country that depends heavily on the export of raw material for income) in the end, the attractiveness of the US dollar as a key world currency prevailed.
Despite the economic turmoil in 2008 that resulted from the drop in the value of the US dollar, Timor-Leste has no apparent plans to change its currency arrangement. The government of Timor-Leste mitigated the effect of the drop by subsidizing, from the Petroleum Fund, the price of basic goods. In an attempt to mitigate future risk resulting from a change in the value of the dollar, Timor-Leste rebalanced its Petroleum Fund investments portfolio from 90 percent in U.S. Treasury bonds to 50 percent in the US. Bonds and the balance invested in a range of assets, currencies and regions.
By adopting the US dollar as its currency, Timor-Leste sought a mechanism to establish economic credibility and stability, conditions necessary for developing a solid foundation for a market economy.
|Currency||United States dollar (USD)|
|GDP / GDP Rank||4.975 Billion USD|
|GDP Growth Rate||4.3 Percent|
|GDP Per Captial||$4186.553 (PPP)|
Small Chinese Minority
President – Francisco Guterres
Prime Minister – Taur Matan Ruak
|Website||Go to the web|
|Unemployment Rate||4.019 Percent|
|Labor Force (Occupation)||-|