Timor-Leste profile


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East Timor (also known as Timor-Leste) is home to about 1.2 million people and is one of the poorest countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The country became an independent nation in May 2002 following several years of conflict and turmoil, which brought about widespread destruction of the social and economic infrastructure. According to the UNDP Human Development Report, East Timor has the lowest Human Development Index and the highest Human Poverty Index in Asia.

Agriculture dominates the economy, accounting for 25 percent of GDP and approximately 75 percent of employment. Insufficient food production and an under-developed local market, however, have led to a dependency on imports of rice and other commodities. Poverty is particularly widespread in rural areas and health and education levels are poor.

One of the key issues facing the people of East Timor is a lack of skills in key areas from government planning to community self-determination. Capacity to deliver essential services remains very weak and the rebuilding of infrastructure and strengthening civil administration remains a huge challenge.

Stats and facts

  • Capital: Dili
  • Population: 1,231,116 (2015)
  • GDP per capita (USD): $5,500 (2014)
  • Human Development Index: 0.620 (2013)
  • Language: Official languages are Portuguese and Tetum
  • Religion: Major religion Roman Catholic
  • Adult Literacy: 67.5% (2015)
  • Life expectancy: 67.72 years (2015)
  • Government: Republic
  • Access to safe water: 71.9% (2015)
  • Access to toilets: 40.6% (2015)
  • Infant mortality rate (per 1000 live births): 37.54 (2015)

Reference: Statistics from the UNDP Human Development Report and The World Factbook.

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