East Timor, officially known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, is a lower-middle-income country that officially became an independent country in 2002. Timor-Leste is one of the smallest countries in the world, consisting of the eastern half of the island of Timor (western half belongs to Indonesia), and the islands of Atauro and Jaco, and the exclave of Oecusse. With a population of about 1 million people, it is one of the smaller nations in the world and about 20% of the population lives in the capital, Dili.
A former Portuguese colony, Timor-Leste declared independence from Portugal in 1975 and was subsequently invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces. The following year, it was incorporated into Indonesia as the province of Timor Timur (East Timor) but over the next two decades there was violence in which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals died. In 1999, the people of Timor-Leste voted for independence from Indonesia in a popular referendum. Fighting again broke out until the Australian-led peacekeeping troops of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) brought an end to the violence. In 2002, Timor-Leste was internationally recognized as an independent state.
The photos of Timor-Leste were kindly provided by Ms. Maria Wang, a final year student of the Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Ms. Wang worked in Timor-Leste with The Earth Institute Advisory Project, exploring the factors contributing to, and opportunities for addressing, food insecurity and under-nutrition in the country.