Population. East Timor has an estimated population of 1 million. The people of East Timor, known collectively as the Maubere, an originally derogatory name turned into a name of pride by the resistance movement, consist of a number of distinct ethnic groups, most of whom are of Malayo-Polynesian descent and some of older Papuan stock. There is also a small ethnic Chinese minority. In common with other former Portuguese colonies, where intermarriage between races was widely accepted, there are also small numbers of mixed-race people, known in Portuguese as Mestiço.
Languages Timor Leste’s two official languages are Portuguese and Tetum, a local Austronesian language. Indonesian and English are defined as working languages under the Constitution in the Final and Transitional Provisions without setting a final date. Another fourteen indigenous languages are spoken: Bekais, Bunak, Dawan, Fataluku, Galoli, Habun, Idalaka, Kawaimina, Kairui, Kemak, Lovaia, Makalero, Makasai, Mambai, Tetun-Terik, Tokodede and Wetarese.
Religions The population is predominantly Roman Catholic (90%), with sizable Muslim (5%) and Protestant (3%) minorities. Smaller Hindu, Buddhist and animist minorities make up the remainder.
Economy In late 1999, about 70% of the economic infrastructure of East Timor was laid waste by Indonesian troops and anti-independence militias, and 300,000 people fled westward. Over the next three years, however, a massive international program, manned by 5,000 peacekeepers (8,000 at peak) and 1,300 police officers, led to substantial reconstruction in both urban and rural areas. By 2003, all but about 30,000 of the refugees had returned. Growth was held back in 2003 by extensive drought and the gradual winding down of the international presence. The country faces great challenges in continuing the rebuilding of infrastructure, strengthening the infant civil administration, and generating jobs for young people entering the workforce. One promising long-term project is the planned development of oil and gas resources in nearby waters, which have begun to supplement government revenues ahead of schedule.