East Timor is a state-like region, consisting of the eastern half of the island of Timor. Its capital is Dili. From the 16th century onwards it was a Portuguese colony. In November 1975 its independence was declared, and on December 2 Indonesian forces invaded East Timor. During the invasion mass killings and rapings took place. By mid-Febuary 60,000 Timorese were dead. A puppet government was installed and the following year, East Timor was officially annexed by Indonesia, a step which was never recognised by the United Nations.
Several groups fought a civil war for the independence of East Timor, during which many atrocities and human rights violations by the Indonesian army were reported. A sad highpoint was the killing of many East Timorese youngsters (reportedly over 250) at a cemetary in Dili on November 12, 1991. In total, estimates of the number of deaths in this war range from 100,000 to 350,000 - on a total East Timorese population of only 700,000. In 1996, Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta, two East Timorese peace fighters received the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1999, the Indonesian government decided, under international pressure, to hold a referendum about the future of East Timor. The referendum, held on 30 August, gave a clear majority (78.5%) in favor of independence, rejecting the alternative offer of being an autonomous province within Indonesia.
After the referendum, administration of East Timor was taken over by the United Nations, through the United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor. Elections were held in late 2001 for a national assembly to draft a constitution which is supposed to be finished by mid-December 2001; East Timor is expected to achieve independence on 20 May 2002.
Country code (Top level domain): TP