Fork me on GitHub

Timor-Leste :: East & Southeast Asia



Timor was actively involved in Southeast Asian trading networks for centuries and by the 14th century exported aromatic sandalwood, slaves, honey, and wax. A number of local chiefdoms ruled the island in the early 16th century when Portuguese traders arrived, chiefly attracted by the relative abundance of sandalwood on Timor; by mid century, the Portuguese had colonized the island. Skirmishing with the Dutch in the region eventually resulted in an 1859 treaty in which Portugal ceded the western portion of the island. Imperial Japan occupied Portuguese Timor from 1942 to 1945, but Portugal resumed colonial authority after the Japanese defeat in World War II. East Timor declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975 and was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. It was incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of Timor Timur (East Timor). An unsuccessful campaign of pacification followed over the next two decades, during which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 people died. In an August 1999 UN-supervised popular referendum, an overwhelming majority of the people of Timor-Leste voted for independence from Indonesia. However, in the next three weeks, anti-independence Timorese militias - organized and supported by the Indonesian military - commenced a large-scale, scorched-earth campaign of retribution. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and forced 300,000 people into western Timor as refugees. Most of the country's infrastructure, including homes, irrigation systems, water supply systems, and schools, and nearly all of the country's electrical grid were destroyed. On 20 September 1999, Australian-led peacekeeping troops deployed to the country and brought the violence to an end. On 20 May 2002, Timor-Leste was internationally recognized as an independent state. ++ In 2006, internal tensions threatened the new nation's security when a military strike led to violence and a breakdown of law and order. At Dili's request, an Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) deployed to Timor-Leste, and the UN Security Council established the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which included an authorized police presence of over 1,600 personnel. The ISF and UNMIT restored stability, allowing for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007 in a largely peaceful atmosphere. In February 2008, a rebel group staged an unsuccessful attack against the president and prime minister. The ringleader was killed in the attack, and most of the rebels surrendered in April 2008. Since the attack, the government has enjoyed one of its longest periods of post-independence stability, including successful 2012 elections for both the parliament and president and a successful transition of power in February 2015. In late 2012, the UN Security Council ended its peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste and both the ISF and UNMIT departed the country. Early parliamentary elections in the spring of 2017 finally produced a majority government after months of impasse. Currently, the government is a coalition of three parties and the president is a member of the opposition party. In 2018 and 2019, this configuration stymied nominations for key ministerial positions and slowed progress on certain policy issues.



Southeastern Asia, northwest of Australia in the Lesser Sunda Islands at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago; note - Timor-Leste includes the eastern half of the island of Timor, the Oecussi (Ambeno) region on the northwest portion of the island of Timor, and the islands of Pulau Atauro and Pulau Jaco

Geographic coordinates:

8 50 S, 125 55 E

Map references:

Southeast Asia


total: 14,874 sq km
land: 14,874 sq km
water: 0 sq km
country comparison to the world: 159

Area - comparative:

slightly larger than Connecticut; almost half the size of Maryland

Land boundaries:

total: 253 km
border countries (1): Indonesia 253 km


706 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical; hot, humid; distinct rainy and dry seasons




lowest point: Timor Sea, Savu Sea, and Banda Sea 0 m
highest point: Foho Tatamailau 2,963 m

Natural resources:

gold, petroleum, natural gas, manganese, marble

Land use:

agricultural land: 25.1% (2011 est.)
arable land: 10.1% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 4.9% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 10.1% (2011 est.)
forest: 49.1% (2011 est.)
other: 25.8% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land:

350 sq km (2012)

Population distribution:

most of the population concentrated in the western third of the country, particularly around Dili

Natural hazards:

floods and landslides are common; earthquakes; tsunamis; tropical cyclones

Environment - current issues:

air pollution and deterioration of air quality; greenhouse gas emissions; water quality, scarcity, and access; land and soil degradation; forest depletion; widespread use of slash and burn agriculture has led to deforestation and soil erosion; loss of biodiversity

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

Timor comes from the Malay word for "east"; the island of Timor is part of the Malay Archipelago and is the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands; the district of Oecussi is an exclave separated from Timor-Leste proper by Indonesia; Timor-Leste has the unique distinction of being the only Asian country located completely in the Southern Hemisphere

People and Society


1,383,723 (July 2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155


noun: Timorese
adjective: Timorese

Ethnic groups:

Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) (includes Tetun, Mambai, Tokodede, Galoli, Kemak, Baikeno), Melanesian-Papuan (includes Bunak, Fataluku, Bakasai), small Chinese minority


Tetun Prasa 30.6%, Mambai 16.6%, Makasai 10.5%, Tetun Terik 6.1%, Baikenu 5.9%, Kemak 5.8%, Bunak 5.5%, Tokodede 4%, Fataluku 3.5%, Waima'a 1.8%, Galoli 1.4%, Naueti 1.4%, Idate 1.2%, Midiki 1.2%, other 4.5%
note: data represent population by mother tongue; Tetun and Portuguese are official languages; Indonesian and English are working languages; there are about 32 indigenous languages


Roman Catholic 97.6%, Protestant/Evangelical 2%, Muslim 0.2%, other 0.2% (2015 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 39.96% (male 284,353/female 268,562)
15-24 years: 20.32% (male 142,693/female 138,508)
25-54 years: 30.44% (male 202,331/female 218,914)
55-64 years: 5.22% (male 34,956/female 37,229)
65 years and over: 4.06% (male 27,153/female 29,024) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios:

total dependency ratio: 90.3
youth dependency ratio: 83.7
elderly dependency ratio: 6.6
potential support ratio: 15.2 (2020 est.)

Median age:

total: 19.6 years
male: 18.9 years
female: 20.2 years (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200

Population growth rate:

2.27% (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31

Birth rate:

32 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27

Death rate:

5.7 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 177

Net migration rate:

-3.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 188

Population distribution:

most of the population concentrated in the western third of the country, particularly around Dili


urban population: 31.3% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 3.35% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population:

281,000 DILI (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth:

22.1 years (2009/10 est.)
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality rate:

142 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60

Infant mortality rate:

total: 31.7 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 34.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 28.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 69.3 years
male: 67.6 years
female: 71.1 years (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170

Total fertility rate:

4.44 children born/woman (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25

Contraceptive prevalence rate:

26.1% (2016)

Drinking water source:

improved: urban: 100% of population
rural: 72.3% of population
total: 80.7% of population
unimproved: urban: 0% of population
rural: 27.7% of population
total: 19.3% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure:

3.9% (2017)

Physicians density:

0.75 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access:

improved: urban: 90.9% of population
rural: 50.3% of population
total: 62.6% of population
unimproved: urban: 9.1% of population
rural: 49.7% of population
total: 57.4% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.2% (2019)
country comparison to the world: 114

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

1,500 (2019)
country comparison to the world: 138

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

<100 (2019)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high (2020)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

Obesity - adult prevalence rate:

3.8% (2016)
country comparison to the world: 190

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:

37.5% (2013)
country comparison to the world: 3

Education expenditures:

6.8% of GDP (2018)
country comparison to the world: 17


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 68.1%
male: 71.9%
female: 64.2% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 13 years
male: 14 years
female: 13 years (2010)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:

total: 13.2%
male: 10.9%
female: 15.9% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105

People - note:

one of only two predominantly Christian nations in Southeast Asia, the other being the Philippines


Country name:

conventional long form: Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
conventional short form: Timor-Leste
local long form: Republika Demokratika Timor Lorosa'e [Tetum]; Republica Democratica de Timor-Leste [Portuguese]
local short form: Timor Lorosa'e [Tetum]; Timor-Leste [Portuguese]
former: East Timor, Portuguese Timor
etymology: timor" derives from the Indonesian and Malay word "timur" meaning "east"; "leste" is the Portuguese word for "east", so "Timor-Leste" literally means "Eastern-East"; the local [Tetum] name "Timor Lorosa'e" translates as "East Rising Sun"
note: pronounced TEE-mor LESS-tay

Government type:

semi-presidential republic


name: Dili
geographic coordinates: 8 35 S, 125 36 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

12 municipalities (municipios, singular municipio) and 1 special adminstrative region* (regiao administrativa especial); Aileu, Ainaro, Baucau, Bobonaro (Maliana), Covalima (Suai), Dili, Ermera (Gleno), Lautem (Lospalos), Liquica, Manatuto, Manufahi (Same), Oe-Cusse Ambeno* (Pante Macassar), Viqueque
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)


20 May 2002 (from Indonesia); note - 28 November 1975 was the date independence was proclaimed from Portugal; 20 May 2002 was the date of international recognition of Timor-Leste's independence from Indonesia

National holiday:

Restoration of Independence Day, 20 May (2002); Proclamation of Independence Day, 28 November (1975)


history: drafted 2001, approved 22 March 2002, entered into force 20 May 2002
amendments: proposed by Parliament and parliamentary groups; consideration of amendments requires at least four-fifths majority approval by Parliament; passage requires two-thirds majority vote by Parliament and promulgation by the president of the republic; passage of amendments to the republican form of government and the flag requires approval in a referendum

Legal system:

civil law system based on the Portuguese model; note - penal and civil law codes to replace the Indonesian codes were passed by Parliament and promulgated in 2009 and 2011, respectively

International law organization participation:

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Timor-Leste
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


17 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Francisco GUTERRES (since 20 May 2017); note - the president is commander in chief of the military and is able to veto legislation, dissolve parliament, and call national elections
head of government: Prime Minister Taur Matan RUAK (since 22 June 2018); note - President GUTERRES dissolved parliament because of an impasse over passing the country's budget on 26 January 2018, with then Prime Minister Mari ALKATIRI assuming the role of caretaker prime minister until a new prime minister was appointed; note - on 25 February 2020, Prime Minister RUAK offered his resignation due to inability to pass 2020 budget in parliament, but the president refused his offer; on 8 April, RUAK withdrew his resignation
cabinet: the governing coalition in the Parliament proposes cabinet member candidates to the Prime Minister, who presents these recommendations to the President of the Republic for swearing in
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 20 March 2017 (next to be held in 2022); following parliamentary elections, the president appoints the leader of the majority party or majority coalition as the prime minister
election results: Francisco GUTERRES elected president; percent of vote - Francisco GUTERRES (FRETILIN) 57.1%, Antonio DA CONCEICAO (PD) 32.5%, Jose Luis GUTERRES (Frenti-Mudanca) 2.6%, Jose NEVES (independent) 2.3%, Luis Alves TILMAN (independent) 2.2%, other 3.4%

Legislative branch:

description: unicameral National Parliament (65 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 12 May 2018 (next to be held in July 2023)
election results: percent of vote by party - AMP - 49.6%, FRETILIN 34.2%, PD 8.1%, DDF 5.5%, other 2.6%; seats by party - AMP 34, FRETILIN 23, PD 5, DDF 3; composition - men 39, women 26, percent of women 40%

Judicial branch:

highest courts: Court of Appeals (consists of the court president and NA judges)
judge selection and term of office: court president appointed by the president of the republic from among the other court judges to serve a 4-year term; other court judges appointed - 1 by the Parliament and the others by the Supreme Council for the Judiciary, a body chaired by the court president and that includes mostly presidential and parliamentary appointees; other judges serve for life
subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; High Administrative, Tax, and Audit Court; district courts; magistrates' courts; military courts
note: the UN Justice System Programme, launched in 2003 and being rolled out in 4 phases through 2018, is helping strengthen the country's justice system; the Programme is aligned with the country's long-range Justice Sector Strategic Plan, which includes legal reforms

Political parties and leaders:

Alliance for Change and Progress or AMP [Xanana GUSMAO] (alliance includes CNRT, KHUNTO, PLP) ++ Democratic Development Forum or DDF ++ Democratic Party or PD ++ Frenti-Mudanca [Jose Luis GUTERRES] ++ Kmanek Haburas Unidade Nasional Timor Oan or KHUNTO ++ National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction or CNRT [Kay Rala Xanana GUSMAO] ++ People's Liberation Party or PLP [Taur Matan RUAK] ++ Revolutionary Front of Independent Timor-Leste or FRETILIN [Mari ALKATIRI]

International organization participation:

ACP, ADB, AOSIS, ARF, ASEAN (observer), CPLP, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PIF (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WMO

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Isilio Antonio De Fatima COELHO DA SILVA (since 6 January 2020)
chancery: 4201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 504, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 966-3202
FAX: [1] (202) 966-3205

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Charge' d'Affaires Elias PARRA (November 2020)
telephone: (670) 332-4684, EMER: +(670) 7723-1328
embassy: Avenida de Portugal, Praia dos Coqueiros, Dili
mailing address: US Department of State, 8250 Dili Place, Washington, DC 20521-8250
FAX: (670) 331-3206

Flag description:

red with a black isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) superimposed on a slightly longer yellow arrowhead that extends to the center of the flag; a white star - pointing to the upper hoist-side corner of the flag - is in the center of the black triangle; yellow denotes the colonialism in Timor-Leste's past, black represents the obscurantism that needs to be overcome, red stands for the national liberation struggle; the white star symbolizes peace and serves as a guiding light

National symbol(s):

Mount Ramelau; national colors: red, yellow, black, white

National anthem:

name: "Patria" (Fatherland)
lyrics/music: Fransisco Borja DA COSTA/Afonso DE ARAUJO
note: adopted 2002; the song was first used as an anthem when Timor-Leste declared its independence from Portugal in 1975; the lyricist, Francisco Borja DA COSTA, was killed in the Indonesian invasion just days after independence was declared


Economic overview:

Since independence in 1999, Timor-Leste has faced great challenges in rebuilding its infrastructure, strengthening the civil administration, and generating jobs for young people entering the work force. The development of offshore oil and gas resources has greatly supplemented government revenues. This technology-intensive industry, however, has done little to create jobs in part because there are no production facilities in Timor-Leste. Gas is currently piped to Australia for processing, but Timor-Leste has expressed interest in developing a domestic processing capability. ++ In June 2005, the National Parliament unanimously approved the creation of the Timor-Leste Petroleum Fund to serve as a repository for all petroleum revenues and to preserve the value of Timor-Leste's petroleum wealth for future generations. The Fund held assets of $16 billion, as of mid-2016. Oil accounts for over 90% of government revenues, and the drop in the price of oil in 2014-16 has led to concerns about the long-term sustainability of government spending. Timor-Leste compensated for the decline in price by exporting more oil. The Ministry of Finance maintains that the Petroleum Fund is sufficient to sustain government operations for the foreseeable future. ++ Annual government budget expenditures increased markedly between 2009 and 2012 but dropped significantly through 2016. Historically, the government failed to spend as much as its budget allowed. The government has focused significant resources on basic infrastructure, including electricity and roads, but limited experience in procurement and infrastructure building has hampered these projects. The underlying economic policy challenge the country faces remains how best to use oil-and-gas wealth to lift the non-oil economy onto a higher growth path and to reduce poverty.

GDP real growth rate:

-4.6% (2017 est.)
5.3% (2016 est.)
4% (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 216

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

0.6% (2017 est.)
-1.3% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49

GDP (purchasing power parity) - real:

$7.426 billion (2017 est.)
$7.784 billion (2016 est.)
$7.391 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$2.775 billion (2017 est.)
note: non-oil GDP

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$6,000 (2017 est.)
$6,400 (2016 est.)
$6,200 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
country comparison to the world: 147

GDP - composition, by sector of origin:

agriculture: 9.1% (2017 est.)
industry: 56.7% (2017 est.)
services: 34.4% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use:

household consumption: 33% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 30% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 10.6% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 78.4% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -52% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores:

69.9 (2020)

Agriculture - products:

coffee, rice, corn, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sweet potatoes, soybeans, cabbage, mangoes, bananas, vanilla


printing, soap manufacturing, handicrafts, woven cloth

Industrial production growth rate:

2% (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133

Labor force:

286,700 (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 41%
industry: 13%
services: 45.1% (2013)

Unemployment rate:

4.4% (2014 est.)
3.9% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66

Population below poverty line:

41.8% (2014 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 4%
highest 10%: 27% (2007)


revenues: 300 million (2017 est.)
expenditures: 2.4 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:

10.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 213

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):

-75.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 222

Public debt:

3.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
3.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Current account balance:

-$284 million (2017 est.)
-$544 million (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106


$16.7 million (2017 est.)
$18 million (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214

Exports - commodities:

oil, coffee, sandalwood, marble
note: potential for vanilla exports


$681.2 million (2017 est.)
$558.6 million (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194

Imports - commodities:

food, gasoline, kerosene, machinery

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$544.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$437.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)
note: excludes assets of approximately $9.7 billion in the Petroleum Fund (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 150

Debt - external:

$311.5 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$687 million (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183

Exchange rates:

the US dollar is used


Electricity access:

electrification - total population: 85.6% (2018)
electrification - urban areas: 100% (2018)
electrification - rural areas: 79.2% (2018)

Electricity - production:

0 kWh NA (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 219

Electricity - consumption:

0 kWh (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 218

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209

Electricity - installed generating capacity:

600 kW NA (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214

Electricity - from fossil fuels:

0% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214

Electricity - from nuclear fuels:

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204

Electricity - from other renewable sources:

100% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Crude oil - production:

33,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60

Crude oil - exports:

62,060 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39

Crude oil - imports:

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203

Crude oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203

Refined petroleum products - production:

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207

Refined petroleum products - consumption:

3,500 bbl/day (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186

Refined petroleum products - exports:

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208

Refined petroleum products - imports:

3,481 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182

Natural gas - production:

5.776 billion cu m (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205

Natural gas - exports:

5.776 billion cu m (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199

Natural gas - proved reserves:

200 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:

533,400 Mt (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184


Telephones - fixed lines:

total subscriptions: 2,164
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2019 est.)
country comparison to the world: 217

Telephones - mobile cellular:

total subscriptions: 1,490,966
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 110.22 (2019 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158

Telecommunication systems:

general assessment: service in urban and some rural areas, which is expanding with the entrance of new competitors; 4G LTE service, with about 97% of population having access, among 3 mobile operators; increase in mobile broadband penetration; govt. aims to boost e-govt. services with new national terrestrial optical fiber network; the launch in 2019 of the Kacific-1 satellite is important to the telecom sector for the entire region (2020)
domestic: system suffered significant damage during the violence associated with independence; limited fixed-line services, less than 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular services have been expanding and are now available in urban and most rural areas with teledensity of 110 per 100 (2019)
international: country code - 670; international service is available; partnership with Australia telecom companies for potential deployment of a submarine fiber-optic link (NWCS); geostationary earth orbit satellite
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media:

7 TV stations (3 nationwide satellite coverage; 2 terrestrial coverage, mostly in Dili; 2 cable) and 21 radio stations (3 nationwide coverage) (2019)

Internet country code:


Internet users:

total: 363,398
percent of population: 27.49% (July 2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162

Broadband - fixed subscriptions:

total: 603
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200


National air transport system:

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 2

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix:

4W (2016)


6 (2013)
country comparison to the world: 177

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 4 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)
under 914 m: 2 (2013)


8 (2013)


total: 6,040 km (2008)
paved: 2,600 km (2008)
unpaved: 3,440 km (2008)
country comparison to the world: 143

Merchant marine:

total: 1
by type: other 1 (2019)
country comparison to the world: 180

Ports and terminals:

major seaport(s): Dili

Military and Security

Military and security forces:

Timor-Leste Defense Force (Falintil-Forcas de Defesa de Timor-L'este, Falintil (F-FDTL)): Headquarters with Land and Naval components (2019)

Military expenditures:

1% of GDP (2019)
0.7% of GDP (2018)
0.9% of GDP (2017)
1% of GDP (2016)
1.2% of GDP (2015)
country comparison to the world: 120

Military and security service personnel strengths:

the Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDLT) is comprised of approximately 2,000 troops (2019 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions:

Timor-Leste Defense Force's limited inventory consists of equipment donated by other countries; the only known deliveries of major arms to Timor-Leste since 2010 are naval patrol craft from China and South Korea (2019 est.)

Military service age and obligation:

18 years of age for voluntary military service; 18-month service obligation (2019)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:

three stretches of land borders with Indonesia have yet to be delimited, two of which are in the Oecussi exclave area, and no maritime or Economic Exclusion Zone boundaries have been established between the countries; maritime boundaries with Indonesia remain unresolved; Timor-Leste and Australia reached agreement on a treaty delimiting a permanent maritime boundary in March 2018; the treaty will enter into force once ratified by the two countries' parliaments

Trafficking in persons:

current situation: Timor-Leste is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Timorese women and girls from rural areas are lured to the capital with promises of legitimate jobs or education prospects and are then forced into prostitution or domestic servitude, and other women and girls may be sent to Indonesia for domestic servitude; Timorese family members force children into bonded domestic or agricultural labor to repay debts; foreign migrant women are vulnerable to sex trafficking in Timor-Leste, while men and boys from Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand are forced to work on fishing boats in Timorese waters under inhumane conditions
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Timor-Leste does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, legislation was drafted but not finalized or implemented that outlines procedures for screening potential trafficking victims; law enforcement made modest progress, including one conviction for sex trafficking, but efforts are hindered by prosecutors' and judges' lack of expertise in applying anti-trafficking laws effectively; the government rescued two child victims with support from an NGO but did not provide protective services (2015)

Illicit drugs: