"T I M O R - L E S T E : The Unexplored Land" Top 5 Page for this destination East Timor by bkoon

East Timor Travel Guide: 195 reviews and 482 photos

Pátria (Means "Fatherland" in Portuguese)

Pátria, Pátria, Timor-Leste, nossa Nação.
Glória ao povo e aos heróis da nossa libertação.
Pátria, Pátria, Timor-Leste, nossa Nação.
Glória ao povo e aos heróis da nossa libertação.
Vencemos o colonialismo, gritamos:
abaixo o imperialismo.
Terra livre, povo livre,
não, não, não à explotação.
Avante unidos firmes e decididos.
Na luta contra o imperialismo
o inimigo dos povos, até à vitória final.
Pelo caminho da revolução.

Fatherland, fatherland, East Timor our Nation
Glory to the people and to the heroes of our liberation
Fatherland, fatherland, East Timor our Nation
Glory to the people and to the heroes of our liberation
We vanquish colonialism, we cry: down with imperialism!
Free land, free people, no, no no to exploitation.
Let us go forward, united, firm and determined
In the struggle against imperialism, the enemy of people,
until final victory, onward to revolution.

Pátria is the National Anthem of the Democratic Republic of East Timor. I first heard this anthem when I went to a village school in Bikeli, Atauro Island. I was very touched by this song. Despite the poor conditions there, the kids sang this song with so much gutso and pride. Really amazing and touching too. This song has a very catchy tune and it is easy to sing. Somehow the rhythm of this song just stuck to my head.

SOMETHING SPECIAL : I met President Xanana on the Mertapi flight from Dili to Bali on our way back. He was seated right in front at number 1A. Well, I walked up to him and said hello. He even gave me his autograph. That was quite cool of him. He had no airs at all, well-mannered and absolutely charming. No wonder his people adore him. What an idol.


East Timor, or rather, Timor-Leste becomes a democratic independent nation in May 2002 after many years of foreign occupation. (To know more about the history of Timor-Leste, please see General Tips section.) The East Timorese are proud to gain independence despite the many post independence issues which they are facing now after seperating themselves from Indonesia. The capital city of East Timor is Dili and its main religion is Roman Catholic.


It was purely by chance that I signed up for a marine conservation project to Timor Leste. I had always wanted to participate in a marine conservation project but I did not expect that I would land up in Timor Leste. Initially, I was asking myself why am I doing marine conservation when poverty is the main problem in Timor Leste; wouldn't it better if I were to do something like building schools and halls? Well, after a while, I just felt that we gotta start somewhere, we should start protecting the natural resources the people of Timor Leste have (before everything is gone).

Basically, what our expedition team did was survey what they have in the sea of Atauro Island (one of the 2 islands Timor Leste has). We managed to survey only a small portion. 3 types of surveys were done at each of the site we went. We gathered information on the corals (benthic survey), the invertebrates and the fishes. Sad to say that the fish count was really low. I do not know what is the cause yet. I just hope that it is not due to overfishing. The corals there are abundant, lively and very very beautiful. Hydriods are plentiful (due to the strong current). Dolphins and sperm whales are commonly sighted.

Oops, I am slightly out-of-point. When I was there at Atauro Island, something which I loved doing was interacting with the locals, especially the kids. They led a very carefree lifestyle despite being poor. The reef is their playground.

Upon further understanding the situation in Timor Leste, it struck me that whatever we do, there should be a meaning. I started to think whether running in the rat race is what I really want to chase for. Hmmm, maybe not. The concept of social responsibility got into me. How can I better contribute to the world we live in?


Dili, Capital City of East Timor
Atauro Island, One of the Two Islands of East Timor

You shall see tips pertaining more to these 2 places with general information about Timor Leste too.

I miss Timor Leste.


(Based on Census done in July 2004 - Timor Leste's first ever census.)

Population of 924,000 people

13 Administrative Districts

12 Ethnic Groups

More than 95% are Catholics with strong animistic traditions

Timor Leste was under the Portuguese control for more than 400 years up to 1974

In November 75, Timor Leste was declared independent.

10 days later in December 1975, Indonesian troops invaded. It was considered an illegal invasion and 60,000 perished.

East Timorese resisted for some 24 years and an estimated number of 200,000 people were killed during that period.

Santa Cruz Massacre in 1991 was one of the most terrible incidents which happened and many still remembered the day of mindless killing.

In 1996, the Nobel Peace Prize drew some attention on the situation in Timor Leste.

In May 1999, there was a referendum and 78% of the people voted for independence.

20 May 2002, the Democratic Republic of East Timor was born.

UNMISET mission will end in May 2005.

Poverty is the greatest challenge now with a GDP per capita of less than USD$450.

More than 40% of the poeple are below the poverty line (Base on World Bank guideline of USD$1 per Day)

Main foreign exchange aerner is coffee

More than 20% of East Timorese are in urban areas and rural-urban migration is rapid.

Investment laws are not fully established hence, economy is extremely slow and investments are negligible.

Literacy rate is 46% and only 2-thirds of the women population are illiterate.

53% of the children in schools do not have textbooks and learning materials.

In rural areas, there is an average of only 1 teacher to 100 students when the national average is 1 teacher to 62 students.

Health expectancy is 57 years old.

MMR (Mother Mortality Rate) is 830/100,000 livebirths

IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) is 88/1000 livebirths - In developed countries like Singapore, it is 5/1000.

Only 5% of the children (12-23 months) are immunised against preventable diseases. (This is taken for granted in many parts of the world, inclduing you and me.)

47% of children under the age of 5 are malnourished.

44% of the children age 9-17 years old experience violence at home. Sometimes you will see parents picking up stones from the ground and just throwing at their kids.

Population is growing rapidly at a rate of 4% per annum.

There is a 7.8 children to 1 woman ratio.

Violence against women and girls are common.

Timor Leste does have substantial oil and gas resources however they have yet established a petroleum fund to properly manage impending oil and gas revenue.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:An Unexplored Land
  • Cons:Plagued By Poverty
  • In a nutshell:Beautiful Country With Lotsa Developmental Issues To Solve
  • Last visit to East Timor: Nov 2004
  • Intro Updated Jul 3, 2005
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Reviews (37)

Comments (31)

  • atufft's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2007 at 11:38 PM

    Thanks for the background notes and images of East Timor, this young nation with a tragic past/present?

  • Avieira67's Profile Photo
    Aug 31, 2007 at 6:47 PM

    Thank you very much to show to the world the history of this amazing country!

  • robertgaz's Profile Photo
    Dec 19, 2006 at 9:27 PM

    Holy backstroking bovine Batman!

  • jenniferchin's Profile Photo
    Sep 19, 2006 at 6:27 PM

    To the gorgeous Bee :-) Thank you so much for the birthday wishes, babe !!!

  • nomada's Profile Photo
    Sep 3, 2006 at 2:28 AM

    Amazing page, thank you! Here in the UE we're really concerned about Timor Leste's situation.

  • akikonomu's Profile Photo
    May 20, 2006 at 9:26 AM

    Haha, I like your cow story, and your underwater photos are beautiful!

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    May 8, 2006 at 9:37 AM

    Wonderful tour here on your pages - great photos and detailed tips - will return again. Ciao, Carol

  • Mar 31, 2006 at 6:58 PM

    Another way to fly to Dili is through Darwin (Australia). Dili is only one and a half hours flight by AirNorth (Qantas).

  • johanl's Profile Photo
    Dec 11, 2005 at 12:46 AM

    A very interesting page on this new country. I sure have to go there one day.

  • Wild_Orchid's Profile Photo
    Nov 16, 2005 at 6:06 PM

    great historical tips! your pictures are the best. thanks for sharing.


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