East Timor is a sovereign state in Maritime Southeast Asia. It is formally known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. It consists of the eastern half of the island of Timor; the neighboring islands of Atauro and Jaco; and Oecusse, a self-governing exclave on the island’s northern coast bordered by Indonesian West Timor. The nation has an area of about 15,410 kilometers square (5,400 sq mi).
East Timor was colonized by Portugal in the 16th century and referred to as Portuguese Timor until November 1975, when the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN) proclaimed independence. It was attacked and conquered by Indonesia nine days later and was designated Indonesia’s 27th province the following year. The Indonesian occupation of East Timor was marked by a bloody war between separatist organizations (particularly FRETILIN) and the Indonesian military that lasted decades.
Indonesia ceded sovereignty of the region in 1999, after the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination. On 20 May 2002, East Timor became the twenty-first century’s first new sovereign state, joining the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. East Timor declared its desire to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2011 by seeking to become the organization’s eleventh member. It is one of Southeast Asia’s only two mainly Christian countries, the other being the Philippines.