Timor-Leste

Which of the following sovereign nations is celebrating twenty years of independence in May 2022?
Considering Kosovo, Timor-Leste, South Sudan and Montenegro, the answer is: Timor-Leste.    
Photo credit: Pelorus

Timor-Leste is an island country on the southern end of the Malaysian archipelago. A Portuguese colony until 1975, Timor-Leste was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces until a referendum in 1999, during which the citizens of Timor-Leste voted for independence. Formal independence was announced on May 20th, 2002 after the election of the first president.

Timor-Leste is a small nation with a significant cultural background. Translating to "The Rising Sun of the East," Timor-Leste is the only Asian nation located completely below the equator. The country has experienced decades of colonial strife — beginning with the invasion of the Portuguese in 1520 — yet Timor-Leste has always been a land of South East Asian tropical beauty. An abundance of flora and fauna thrive in the humid temperatures, as do a variety of mammals and birds.

Today, Timor-Leste's economy relies on the export of oil, coffee and sandalwood. Around 46,000 coffee farms exist in the country, which employ about a fifth of the country's entire population. However, most Timorese survive off of subsistence farming, which informs many of the traditional dishes served in the nation. Significantly, the cooking style in Timor-Leste is influenced by Portuguese culture, island culture and a touch of South East Asian culture.

Learn more about Timor-Leste's history and culture here.


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