Country Fast Facts:Timor-Leste

































Timor-Leste



























(CBS)

The Portuguese began to trade with the island of Timor in the early 16th century and colonized it in mid-century. 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 Timor-Leste from 1942 to 1945, but Portugal resumed colonial authority after the Japanese defeat in World War II.



Timor-Leste declared itself independent from Portugal on Nov. 28, 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-Leste. An unsuccessful campaign of pacification followed over the next two decades, during which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals lost their lives.



On Aug. 30, 1999, in a UN-supervised popular referendum, an overwhelming majority of the people of Timor-Leste voted for independence from Indonesia. Between the referendum and the arrival of a multinational peacekeeping force in late September 1999, 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 forcibly pushed 300,000 people into western Timor as refugees. The majority of the country's infrastructure, including homes, irrigation systems, water supply systems, and schools, and nearly 100 percent of the country's electrical grid were destroyed. On Sept. 20, 1999, the Australian-led peacekeeping troops of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) deployed to the country and brought the violence to an end.



On May 20, 2002, Timor-Leste was internationally recognized as an independent state. In March of 2006, a military strike led to violence and a near breakdown of law and order. Over 2,000 Australian, New Zealand, and Portuguese police and peacekeepers deployed to Timor-Leste in late May. Although many of the peacekeepers were replaced by UN police officers, 850 Australian soldiers remained as of Jan. 1, 2007.



Source: CIA World Fact Book

















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