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Timorese Children
Government HQ East Timor Map
Wed Jan 23, 2002


Occupying 24,000 square kilometers on the eastern half of an island in the Timor Sea between Indonesia and Australia, East Timor has a population of approximately 800,000 people. The country is currently administrated by UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor), which is, together with the East Timorese people, rebuilding the nation and putting in place a new, independent democracy.

The path to independence started when an overwhelming majority of the East Timorese on 30 August 1999 voted to separate from Indonesia, which had controlled the territory since 1975. In response, militia groups, backed by elements of the Indonesian armed forces, embarked on a campaign of arson, looting and violence that was brought to an end only when UN forces intervened. Most of East Timor’s infrastructure was destroyed, and the country is still rebuilding after the devastation.

On 30 August 2001, two years after the Popular Consultation, the people of East Timor went to the polls again; this time to elect a Constituent Assembly tasked with writing and adopting a new Constitution and establishing the framework for future elections and a transition to full independence.

The Constituent Assembly and a new East Timorese Government – the Second Transitional Government and its Council of Ministers – is currently governing East Timor during the remaining transitional period before its independence as a democratic and sovereign state, which is expected in the first half of 2002.