East Timor Culture

East Timor Culture and Mass Media


According to ANIMALERTS, in the capital Dili, cultural life has a Western feel with Portuguese influences. In the countryside, the pre-colonial cultural traits are strong. A resistance museum depicting the country’s history with emphasis on the independence struggle was opened in 2005 in Dili.

Within the East Timorese upper class that emerged during the colonial era, a European lifestyle was adopted and many within the group are today Portuguese-speaking people with high positions in society.

In rural areas, communities are divided into clans, or large families. A person’s social status is determined by family affiliation. Life is lived in villages and is governed by the changes of agriculture.

The Atoni people for a secluded existence, mostly in the central mountain masses. They probably originate from Aborigines who immigrated from Australia about 14,000 years ago and often live as hunters and collectors.

The Indonesian Occupation Force 1975–1999 sought to adapt the population to Indonesian conditions. The younger generation, who grew up during the occupation, usually speak Indonesian and some have educated themselves on Indonesian islands such as Java. Many of the characteristic East Timorese houses and cult sites have been destroyed, not least during the 1999 wave of violence.

A resistance museum depicting the country’s history with emphasis on the independence struggle was opened in 2005 in Dili. The capital received its first cinema in 2013. The same year, East Timor’s first feature film, Beatriz’s War, was made by Luigi Acquisto and Bety Reis. The film portrays a genuine couple’s hardships during the occupation.



The new government is approved by Parliament

July 27

Parliament approves the new government’s political program with 36 yes votes against 25 no.


Taur Matan Ruak becomes new prime minister

June 22

President Guterres appoints Taur Matan Ruak as Prime Minister. He will take up the post on June 22. Ruak has previously been guerrilla leader in Fretilin, Defense Minister and President, but now leads the Little People’s Liberation Party (PLP), which is close to CNRT. In his new government are representatives of CNRT, PLP and Khunto.


The opposition wins the new election

May 12

The Opposition Tripartite Coalition The Alliance for Change and Development (AMP) between CNRT, PLP and Khunto wins the new election to Parliament with 49 percent of the vote, or 34 of 65 seats. Fretiline receives 36 percent of the vote, giving 23 seats. Election Day will be calm even though the election movement has been fierce and violent, with dozens injured in clashes between Fretilin and AMP supporters. Among the election issues, the economy has been the focus.


The border crossing at Greater Sunrise is complete

6 March

East Timor and Australia sign an agreement at the UN headquarters in New York, which will resolve the conflict over the boundary at sea between the countries. East Timor hopes the agreement will lead to an economic upturn, as offshore gas reserves, in the Greater Sunrise field, can begin to be recovered once the profit distribution is agreed. These assets have been tied up during the long dispute with Australia. Greater Sunrise gas is estimated to be worth between $ 40 billion and $ 50 billion. According to representatives of Australia, East Timor will receive between 70 and 80 percent of the profits from gas extraction.


New elections will be held in May

February 20th

President Guterres announces that new elections to Parliament will be held on May 12, 2018.


New elections are announced

January 26

President Guterres dissolves parliament and announces new elections. The election date must be determined within 30 days. The opposition, primarily the CNRT, has opposed the Fretilin-led minority government since it took office in September 2017. Among other things, the government’s political program has twice been rejected by Parliament.

East Timor Culture

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