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Useful Notes / Timor-Leste

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Timor-Leste, or East Timor in Englishnote  is a small Southeast Asian country with just over a million people. A former Portuguese colony, like the Philippines its population is avidly Catholic. In fact, East Timor is currently one of the most densely Catholic countries in the world, second only to the Vatican City itself. These are some of the reasons its people were fiercely determined to break free of the predominantly Muslim former Dutch colony of Indonesia.note 


East Timor declared nationhood in 1975 after Portugal ended its four-century long colonial rule, but Indonesians with Infantry almost immediately invaded, ostensibly due to Indonesian dictator Suharto's fear that the little island could become a Communist nation. Portugal heavily campaigned diplomatically for its independence, especially after the Santa Cruz massacre. After nearly a quarter century under brutal military occupation during which at least 100,000 Timorese were killed by Suharto's forces, East Timor held a referendum in 1999 in which its people overwhelmingly voted for independence, unswayed by harassment from pro-Indonesian militias. However, it wasn't until 20 May 2002 that it finally became a nation in its own right. The nation's full name (in English) is the Democratic Republic of East Timor, and it is genuinely democratic. The term "Democratic Republic", a common name for a Communist state, is a legacy of the Marxist origins of the East Timorese independence movement.


Despite its newfound freedom, East Timor remains beset by problems. Political instability led to an Australian-led International Stabilisation Force entering the country, a mission that remains ongoing. In early 2008, the then-president, José Ramos-Horta, survived an assassination attempt. Ramos-Horta was voted out in 2012, and gracefully hailed the peaceful elections as a sign his country was maturing. It also had a maritime boundary dispute with Australia over the Timor Gap, an area rich in oil and gas reserves, which was eventually settled in 2018.

East Timor is a small, poor country with only about 2,100 internet users as of June 2010, and as a result its presence in and output of fiction is small.

East Timor in fiction

  • The country's most prominent appearance in media so far is in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, which starts off with a bang when Suhadi Sadono's terrorist group launches an attack on the United States embassy in the capital of Dili. Sam is quickly sent in to reconnoiter the situation and recover sensitive data from a hostage before Sadono can get it, followed by the U.S. sending in Delta Force to retake the embassy. Sadono's motivation is to force the United States to withdraw military forces it has been building up in East Timor.
  • It's also mentioned multiple times during one sequence of Devil Survivor 2, though it doesn't actually appear and seems to only be mentioned because the party Cloud Cuckoolander likes the sound of the name.
  • Dead Island: Col. Ryder White is stated to have fought in East Timor as part of the international peacekeeping force deployed to the country prior to its independence in 2002.
  • The film Balibo, directed by Rob Connolly, is a Bio Pic about investigative journalist Roger East and the news reporters known as the "Balibo Five", who are suspected to have been shot dead by Indonesian troops in 1975 after the invasion of East Timor. One of the Balibo Five, Greg Shackleton, filmed his last ever newsreel three days before his death. The fateful newsreel was recreated for the biopic.
  • Occasional mentions in Polandball comics often in the context of attempts to join ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to which all of its bigger neighbours in the region belong). Either that, or the comics show it bonding/commiserating with the Philippines over being the only two Catholic countries in Asia, let alone Southeast Asia, a shared trait that makes them both feel out of place as "Asian Latinos".

The East Timorese flag
The red field symbolizes the country's historic struggles for independence; at the hoist side is a yellow isosceles triangle symbolizing its colonial past, upon which is superimposed a black triangle, symbolizing the obscurantism Timor-Leste needed to overcome, and the white star within symbolizes the guiding light to peace.

Alternative Title(s): East Timor


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