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The following is a timeline of the history of Timor-Leste (East Timor).


1600s – Portuguese invade Timor, set up trading post and use island as source of sandalwood.

1749 – Timor split following battle between Portuguese and Dutch. Portuguese take the eastern half.

1942 – Japanese invade, fighting battles with Australian troops. Up to 60,000 East Timorese are killed. Japan in control until 1945.

1974 – Revolution in Portugal leads to promise to free colonies, encouraging parties to prepare for new future.

1975 – August – Portuguese administration withdraws to offshore island of Atauro.

1975 – October – Five Australian-based journalists killed along border with West Timor, allegedly by Indonesian troops.

1975 – November – After brief civil war, Fretilin (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor) declares East Timor independent.

Indonesian invasion

1975 – December – Indonesia invades, using its fight against communism as a pretext. It annexes territory as its 27th province, a move not recognised by the UN.

Strong resistance to Indonesian rule followed by repression and famine in which 200,000 people are thought to have died.

1981 – Xanana Gusmao becomes leader of Falintil (Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor), the armed wing of Fretilin.

1991 – Santa Cruz cemetery massacre in which troops fire on mourners at a funeral in Dili of Fretilin supporter, killing more than 100 people.

1992 – Setback for the resistance as Gusmao is captured near Dili. In 1993 he is convicted of subversion and given a life sentence which is later reduced.

1993 – Groups of East Timorese enter foreign embassies in Jakarta over the next few years seeking political asylum.

1995 – 20th anniversary of the Indonesian invasion marked by protest by 112 East Timorese and sympathisers who enter Russian and Dutch embassies in Jakarta.

1996 – Acting Bishop of Dili, Carlos Belo, and resistance leader Jose Ramos-Horta jointly awarded Nobel Peace Prize, raising international awareness of the East Timorese independence struggle.

1998 – Indonesian President Suharto resigns. Replaced by Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, who suggests territory may be given special status within Indonesia.

Indonesia’s grip loosens

1999 January- Indonesia says it will consider independence for East Timor if people reject autonomy.

1999 February-April- Gusmao moved from Jakarta prison to house arrest. In response to increasing violence by anti-independence activists, Gusmao orders guerrillas to resume independence struggle.

1999 May- Indonesia, Portugal sign agreement to allow East Timorese to vote on their future. Deal endorsed by UN.

1999 30 August- Almost 99% of 450,000-strong electorate votes in UN-organised referendum.

1999 SeptemberResult of referendum shows 78% voters favoured independence.

Violence erupts as anti-independence militia helped by the Indonesian military resume campaign of terror, leaving up to 1,000 dead. A quarter of the population flees, mainly to West Timor. Martial law imposed. Gusmao freed.

Australian-led peacekeeping force arrives, gradually restores order. Many militia members flee to West Timor to avoid arrest. Indonesian parliament recognises outcome of referendum.

1999 October- Gusmao released. UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) established.

1999 December- International donors at a Tokyo conference agree to provide US $520 million in aid to help rebuild East Timor.

2000 September- UN evacuates staff from West Timor after murder of three refugee agency workers by pro-Indonesian militia gangs. An Indonesian court jails six men for up to 20 months for the killings, earning international outrage for being too lenient.

2001 July- East Timor, Australia sign memorandum of understanding over future revenues from oil, gas fields in Timor Sea under which East Timor would get 90% of revenues.

2001 August- Election of 88-member Constituent Assembly; Fretilin party wins, taking 55 seats.

2002 January- Truth and reconciliation commission opens to try and heal wounds of past.

Indonesia inaugurates human rights court to hold military accountable for atrocities in East Timor after 1999 independence vote.

2002 February- East Timor assembly approves draft constitution envisaging government run along parliamentary lines.

East Timor and Indonesia sign two agreements aimed at easing relations.

2002 April- Xanana Gusmao wins presidential elections.

2002 20 May- UN Security Council sets up UN Mission of Support in East Timor (Unmiset) to help East Timorese authorities.


2002 20 May- Independence: VIP guests including former US president Bill Clinton and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri join celebrations in Dili.

2002 September- East Timor becomes 191st member of UN.

2004 January- Portugal announces $63m (50m euros) aid package.

2004 February- Production at offshore gas field begins; Bayu Undan project is expected to earn $100m a year.

2004 November- End of two-year process under which 18 people were tried by Indonesian court for human rights abuses in East Timor during 1999 independence drive. Only one conviction – that of militia leader Eurico Guterres – is left standing.

2005 April- East Timor, Indonesia sign landmark border agreement during Indonesian President Yudhoyono’s first visit to Dili since coming to power.

2005 June- Remaining Australian peacekeepers leave.

2005 August- Truth commission, set up by East Timor and Indonesia, holds its first meeting. The body, which has no power to prosecute, will examine the violence that accompanied East Timor’s independence in 1999.

2006 January- East Timor and Australia sign a deal to divide billions of dollars in expected revenues from oil and gas deposits in the Timor Sea. Under the agreement, talks on a disputed maritime boundary are postponed.

Report on alleged atrocities during Indonesia’s 24-year rule is presented to the UN. It finds that the occupation was directly responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 East Timorese.


2006 May- Foreign troops arrive in Dili to try to restore order as clashes involving former soldiers, who were sacked in March, descend into wider factional violence as well as looting and arson. At least 25 people are killed and about 150,000 take refuge in makeshift camps.

2006 June-July- Prime Minister Alkatiri resigns over his handling of the violence. Jose Ramos-Horta is named as premier.

2006 August- Non-military peacekeeping mission, the UN Integrated Mission in East Timor, or Unmit, is set up.

2007 January- Former interior minister, Rogerio Lobato, goes on trial on charges of arming civilians during 2006 unrest.

2007 May- Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta wins presidential election.

2007 June- Fretilin, led by former prime minister Mari Alkatiri, wins the highest number of votes in parliamentary polls but not the majority needed to govern alone.

2007 August- Xanana Gusmao is named prime minister, prompting violent protests.

2007 November- An Australian court rules that five Australian-based journalists were deliberately killed by Indonesian troops in 1975 to stop them exposing the invasion of East Timor.

Ramos-Horta attack

2008 February- President Jose Ramos-Horta is shot in the stomach by renegade soldiers in an attack on his Dili residence. Rebel leader Alfredo Reinado is killed in the attack.

2008 April- Gastao Salsinha, new leader of the rebel group that tried to assassinate the president, surrenders together with 12 of his men.

2008 May- President Ramos-Horta asks United Nations to keep its mission in the country for a further five years, citing security concerns.

2008 July- Final report by joint Indonesian-East Timorese Truth Commission blames Indonesia for the human rights violations in the run-up to East Timor’s independence in 1999 and urges it to apologise. President Yudhoyono expresses “deep regret” but stops short of an apology.

2009 May- UN peacekeeping mission returns control of a district back to local police for the first time since the 2006 unrest.

2009 August- President Ramos-Horta dismisses an Amnesty International report that accuses the government of failing to deliver justice to citizens who suffered in the 1999 violence. He acknowledges failure to address poverty.

2009 September- Indonesia says ties with Australia may be harmed by a war crimes inquiry into five Australian journalists who died during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975.

2010 February- East Timor’s first anti-corruption commissioner, Aderito Soares, is sworn in to investigate repeated accusations of corruption against officials.

2010 March- A court convicts rebels over the attempted assassination of the president in 2008, jailing them for up to 16 years. President Ramos-Horta later pardons them or commutes their sentences.

2011 MarchEast Timor officially applies to join the South East Asian regional grouping, ASEAN.

2012 April – Former armed forces chief Taur Matan Ruak wins the second round of presidential elections.

2012 July – Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction beats the opposition Fretilin in parliamentary elections, but falls short of a majority. Coalition government continues.

2012 November – Hundreds of Australian soldiers pull out of East Timor, ending a six-year stabilisation mission.

2012 December – UN ends its peacekeeping mission.

2014 December – Ties with Australia are severely strained when East Timor accuses Australian intelligence officers of secretly bugging its cabinet meetings to gain an advantage in oil and gas negotiations in 2004.

2015 February – Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao makes way for Fretilin’s Rui de Araujo, who forms a coalition government with Mr Gusmao’s National Congress in an effort to ease political tensions and stabilise the country.

2015 June – East Timor drops a UN court case against Australia related to a spying scandal after it returns documents seized during a December 2013 raid

2016 September – The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague takes up the decade-long maritime border dispute between Australia and East Timor over lucrative oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.

2017 January – Australia signals it will accept East Timor’s move to rescind arrangements demarcating their maritime border.

The Asian Football Confederation bans East Timor from participating in the Asian Cup in 2023 for using fake documents to include players born in Brazil in its national team. It is also fined 76,000 US dollars.


Source: BBC News