10 Interesting Facts About Timor-Leste You Need To See

East Timor, or Timor-Leste is a Southeast Asian nation occupying half the island of Timor.  It is ringed by coral reefs teeming with marine life. Landmarks in the capital, Dili, speak to the country’s struggles for independence from Portugal in 1975 and then Indonesia in 2002.

In terms of culture, etiquette and tradition, the country and people have some very interesting facts you would love to read about.  For example, what must you NOT talk about with favour?  How must a Timorese woman not go out?  And there are more.  Find out in the following 10 interesting facts about East Timor or Timor Leste.

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Capital:                         Dili

Currency:                      United States Dollar

President:                     Taur Matan Ruak

Prime Minister:              Rui Maria de Araujo

Population:                   1.178 million (2013) World Bank

Official languages:        Portuguese, Tetun

Government:                 Unitary Semi-Presidential Republic


Interesting Facts About Timor-Leste

1. Politeness Preferred to Truth

Indirect communication style tends to the norm in this small island nation.  What is interesting is that they view politeness that averting faces depicts as more important than truth that can hurt in most situations.  And in most cases, a third person is usually involved in settling cases.

2. Punctuality not too Important

Their view of time, in most situations is very relaxed.  They see someone who is too conscious of his time as impolite, even selfish.  However, it is interesting that if they cook you a meal, they would take exception to your arriving late for it.

3. Services All Run Late

Services such as inter-town buses have no time table.  Departures and arrivals are all approximated.  But intra town buses are not like that.  They are small in size and run frequently.  And even then, there are no timetables since they run frequently.

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4. Late, But Generous Time

Business meetings are difficult to fix and actually meet for it as the person concerned may be late or not even show up.  It is interesting though, that once they show up, they can give you double or even triple the amount of time you need for the meeting.

5. Women Have Dress Code

The culture of the entire country is patriarchal.  Dress codes for women are to be strictly observed.  No bare-arms, low-cut tops, short skirts, or bikinis.  All these are never to be seen on a Timorese woman.  But foreign women are given leeway.

6. No Outing Alone for Women

Timorese women do not usually go out alone.  Also, single Timorese women are not even allowed to go out alone with a man unless the man is related to her.  Their strict moral codes count these as taboos.  But foreign women and Timorese women who have lived abroad are sometimes exceptions.

7. Watch What You Say

Two things you must avoid speaking in favour of while in Timor are:

  • Suharto’s Orde Baru.
  • East Timor becoming part of Indonesia.

The people of East Timor would not take it kindly to hear you speak in favour of these things.

8. PDA is A Taboo

Also, you strictly need to avoid public display of affection.  If you feel so strongly about someone of the opposite sex, subdue it while in public places.  The interesting part is that it does not matter even if the person is your wife of husband.  PDA is considered taboo in Timor.

9. Keep a Lead on Emotions

Again, no matter you how strongly you feel about an issue, you must learn to keep a lid on your emotions in public.  Shouting and/or arguing in public will tag you as rude.  Is that interesting or what?  You would be viewed the same as the person making lewd comments about women.

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10. Head is Sacred

The people view the head a sacred.  Touching anyone’s head is therefore strictly not allowed.  This includes playfully roughening little boys’ hair.  If you do it, you are seen as most disrespectful.  It is best to avoid it so as to avert the people’s ire.


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