East Timor State Overview

By | November 9, 2021

Government and politics

According to topschoolsintheusa, East Timor is a parliamentary representative democratic republic where the Prime Minister is the head of Government. The executive power is exercised by the government; the legislative, by the National Parliament and the government; and the judicial, by the Supreme Court of Justice.

The President is only the Head of State. The President, elected by popular vote for a period of five years, has a merely symbolic role, although he has certain powers to veto legislation and is the international representative of the country. After the legislative elections, the President appoints as Prime Minister the leader of the party or coalition that wins the most seats. As Head of Government, the Prime Minister heads the Council of State or cabinet.

Members of the National Parliament are also elected by popular vote for five-year terms. The number of seats can range from a minimum of 52 to a maximum of 65, although at the moment there is an exceptionally large number of 88, due to the fact that it is the first Legislature since the country’s independence. And the Supreme Court of Justice has a judge appointed by Parliament and the rest, by the Superior Judicial Council, an independent body from the other two powers.

Currently, the President of East Timor is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, José Manuel Ramos Horta and the Prime Minister is Xana Gusmao, both from FRETLIN (Revolutionary Front of East Timor for Independence) and the most popular parties are FRETLIN, the Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party. The country is still in the process of consolidating its governmental and administrative institutions.

Political-administrative organization

East Timor is subdivided into 13 administrative districts:

· Aileu· Ainaro

· Baucau

· Bobonaro

· Cova-Lima

· Tell me

· Ermera

· Lautem· Liquiçá

· Manatuto

· Manufahi

· Oecussi-Ambeno

· Viqueque


East Timor has a population of approximately 950,000, most of whom live in and around the country’s capital, Dili. It is a country with a high growth rate (7.26%) caused by the immigration of refugees from the conflicts with Indonesia and a birth rate of 28.07 births / 1000.

The most marked ethnic groups are the Austronesians and Papuans (all ethnic groups from the surrounding areas) However, due to the Portuguese colonization, the predominant religion is the Roman Catholic Apostolic (90%), along with 4% and 3% Muslims and Protestants respectively; and Portuguese is, along with Tetum (a local language) the official language of East Timor. Indonesian, English and 14 other indigenous languages are also spoken. One of the most surprising data is that only 48% of the population can read and write due to many factors such as the low investment of Portugal in Timor when it was its colony (the first university was built only in 2000) and the constant attacks from Indonesia since 1975 that left the island devastated.


  • Life expectancy at birth: 61 years
  • Men: 60 years
  • Women: 62 years
  • Maternal mortality (per 100,000 live births): 660
  • Infant mortality (per 1,000): 52
  • Mortality under 5 years (per 1,000): 61
  • Child malnutrition: 46%
  • Doctors (per 100,000 people): 10
  • Access to drinking water: 58%


The culture of East Timor has had influences from the Portuguese and the Malay peoples. There is also a small Chinese community, as well as numerous foreigners who work in the country on a temporary basis.

Traditional dance

East Timor, like all countries in the world, has its own traditional dance which reflects the identity of its rich culture. The country is made up of 13 districts with approximately 32 dialects and each with its own traditional dance.

Each district has its own dance with different instruments and costumes. Most of these dances are only performed on Independence Day, a wedding party and if there is someone who dies over 100 years of age.

The instruments used to accompany this dance are: babadok, bamboo, buffalo horn and a tray-shaped instrument with a concave center. The costumes are: Men: taís (traditional costume), horse hair (to wrap the feet), rooster hair (as crown), chain with a kind of silver or gold coin approximately 10 cm, a bag made of leaf palm and a sword.

Woman: Thai (covers the body up to the chest), well-groomed hair like women in ballet and with a babadok instrument.

How dance?

This dance is popularly called tebe-tebe, the men dance with the sword and make movements as if they were fighting to conquer a woman, then these men dance with the girls in the dance with a typical rhythm; almost equal to the Melanesian nations. The country’s culture reflects numerous cultural influences, including Portuguese, Malay, and Roman Catholic influences on the indigenous Austronesian cultures in East Timor. The population is Catholic and illiteracy is common. Despite this, there are good poets in the country.


The majority of the population practices traditional cults; there are also 30% Catholics.


  • January 1 (New Years)

– Holy Thursday – Good Friday

  • May 1 (Labor Day)
  • May 20 (Independence Day)

– Corpus Christi

  • August 15 (Assumption of the Virgin)
  • August 30 (Constitution Day)
  • September 20 (Liberation Day)
  • November 1 (All Saints’ Day)
  • November 12 (Santa Cruz Day)
  • December 8 (Immaculate Conception)
  • December 25 (Christmas)

East Timor State Overview