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Timor Leste

Timor Leste is an island ringed by miles of sandy beaches and blue-green sea, which lies between the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Forest covered mountains rise sharply inland, making it a place of impressive natural beauty. Timor Leste has a population of over 1 million people (predominantly Catholic based on its Portugese heritage) who reside in approximately half of the island of Timor - an island which neighbours Australia and Indonesia. The island was colonized by Portugal for over 400 years before Indonesia’s highly volatile occupation in 1975. Two decades of struggle for independence followed with the island finally gaining independence in 1999, formalized in 2002, although there continues to be political and civil unrest.

One of the world's ‘newest’ nations, Timor Leste is also one of the world's poorest - with basic income, health and literary levels comparable to those in sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, in 2007, 50% of the population lived below the poverty line, whilst in 2012 approximately 54% of children under 5 years-old are malnourished. Infrastructure in urban and rural areas requires significant development, whilst unemployment and underemployment combined are estimated to be as high as 70%.

Sources: AusAID, US Department of State,, HIAM Health

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