East Timor’s culture is influenced by a variety of civilizations, including Portuguese, Roman Catholic, and Indonesian, as well as Timor’s indigenous Austronesian and Melanesian cultures. Austronesian tales have had a significant impact on East Timorese culture. According to East Timorese origin myth, an elderly crocodile turned into Timor as a debt payback to a young boy who had treated the crocodile while it was ill. As a consequence, the island is shaped like a crocodile, and the boy’s descendants are the island’s native East Timorese. The term “leaving the crocodile” alludes to East Timorese exile from their island.
There is also a significant poetic tradition in the nation. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmo, for example, is a well-known poet.
Architecturally, there are Portuguese-style structures as well as indigenous totem homes from the eastern area. In Tetum, they are known as uma lulik (“holy homes”), while in Fataluku, they are known as lee teinu (“legged houses”). Crafts and the weaving of traditional scarves (tais) are also popular.
The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia has a large collection of Timorese audiovisual content. These assets have been recognized in a document named The NFSA Timor-Leste Collection Profile, which includes catalogue entries and essays on 795 NFSA-held moving picture, recorded sound, and documentation works that have captured East Timor’s history and culture from the early twentieth century. The NFSA is collaborating with the government of East Timor to guarantee that all of this information is accessible and used by the people of that nation.
Beatriz’s War, the first East Timorese feature film, was released in 2013. East Timor was the subject of the Australian and South Korean films Balibo and A Barefoot Dream in 2009 and 2010.
East Timor’s cuisine includes regionally popular dishes such as pig, fish, basil, tamarind, beans, maize, rice, root vegetables, and tropical fruit. East Timorese cuisine is influenced by Southeast Asian cuisines as well as Portuguese dishes due to the country’s colonization by Portugal. Due to the centuries-long Portuguese influence on the island, flavors and ingredients from other former Portuguese colonies may be found.
East Timor has joined the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the International Badminton Federation (IBF), the Union Cycliste Internationale, the International Weightlifting Federation, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), and FIFA. East Timorese athletes took part in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games, which were held in 2003. East Timor earned a bronze medal in the 2003 ASEAN Paralympic Games. East Timorese athletes competed in athletics, weightlifting, and boxing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. East Timor won three medals at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games in Arnis. East Timor took part in the inaugural Lusophony Games, and in October 2008, the country scored its first international points in a FIFA football match, drawing 2–2 with Cambodia. East Timor took part in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Thomas Americo was the first East Timorese boxer to compete for a global boxing championship. He was assassinated in 1999, just as the Indonesian occupation of East Timor came to an end.