Customs and traditions
The East Timorese customs have their roots in
both indigenous cultures that were established long
before colonialism as well as Portuguese and Indonesian
customs and customs. In addition, the area has a long
trade tradition, which means that the residents got in
contact early with Indians and Chinese.
The vast majority of East Timorians are rural
residents, whose lives are largely characterized by the
changes of agriculture and seasons. Most residents work
on farming, animal husbandry and perhaps fishing and
hunting for the family's own livelihood.
Overview of the capital city of East Timor, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Maize and / or rice are basic food and chicken and
pig breeding is common. Some also stick with cows or
water buffaloes. Possible abundance in production is
sold on the local market.
Greetings, calls and invitations
The most common way of greeting a new acquaintance is
to take care, while meeting each other's looks and
smiles. Greet everyone individually if you walk into a
room where several people have gathered. Common greeting
phrases are Bon dia (Good day) and Bon tarde (Good
afternoon). Ola is more informal and means about Hello.
Foreign visitors are often used to address Mister or
After saying your name, you are happy to talk about
general things such as where you come from. Say a few
kind words about East Timor, or ask about the country's
food and traditions. Feel free to view photos of your
friends and relatives, but wait a while to ask questions
about family relationships.
East Timorians appreciate humor and use it
frequently. You may be joking about a person's
appearance, which can feel a bit uncomfortable for a
Be careful to ask about the country's difficult
history and political contradictions. It is possible to
talk about such things but it should be done with
finesse, since many residents are directly affected by
these events. Questions about losing loved ones and
friends during the Indonesian occupation, for example,
or if someone has been in prison, should wait until you
know the person a little better.
Avoid criticizing the Catholic Church, which for East
Timorians is closely associated with the resistance
movement. Compared to Europeans, East Timorians are
often more conservative in value and do not like to talk
about topics like sex, homosexuality, the right to
abortion or divorce etc.
Avoid body contact when meeting people you do not
know, and above all do not touch anyone's head. It is
perceived as disrespectful. Don't speak with a too loud
voice. It can be perceived as impolite and turned into
Strong feelings should not be shown in public space,
especially anger. Only married couples can hug and kiss
each other in public.
When visiting someone's home, older respect and
children are given special attention. Wait until you are
told to do so. The same goes for eating or drinking.
Suitable gifts are some candy for the kids, coffee or
cigarettes for the adults.
East Timorians are usually freely dressed in airy
pants and patterned shirts or blouses. In the cities,
western clothing applies. Out in the villages, you dress
up in festive occasions in traditional home-woven
clothes. The women then wear sarong and shawl. Costume
is rarely used because of the warm climate.
Working life is usually top-down: the manager decides
and subordinates rarely take their own initiative,
without waiting for orders.
In the office, most women wear blouse / shirt and
skirt or dress, while men wear long pants and short or
long sleeve shirt. In very formal contexts, men wear
suits and women dress / costume. In working life, it is
common to address colleagues with senhor (men) or senhor
(wife), regardless of status. At tetum there are several
different word words and it is safest to wait to use
them, so that you do not risk using mistakes.
In general, East Timorese can be said to have a
relaxed relationship with time. It is not uncommon to
arrive late for a meeting, both at work and at leisure.
Leaving the workplace for family reasons is also
Meals and food
You usually eat three times a day: breakfast, lunch
(about 12-14) and dinner (about 18-20). You never eat
with your left hand, it is the right hand that applies
to everything concerning food and eating.
The eating habits have Chinese, Portuguese and
Indonesian influences. Rice is included in most meals.
Other common crops are cassava, corn and potatoes. Many
dishes are spicy and based on coconut milk. Common
drinks are coconut milk, soda and coffee. Rice wine and
spirits can be purchased at bars and restaurants as well
as beverages in the villages.
A traditional dish is tukir, which is lamb cooked in
a bamboo tube with lots of spices. On the coast around
Dili saboko is made ; sardines, tamarind sauce and
spices are packed in palm leaves and cooked over an open
In Catholic East Timor, Christian holidays such as
Easter, Christmas, All Saints' Day and the Immaculate
Conception (December 8) are national holidays. Also
Muslim holidays, such as id al-fitr (marking the end of
the fasting month of Ramadan) and id al-adha
(sacrificial feast), are national holidays. The dates of
the Muslim holidays vary from year to year as they
follow the lunar calendar. There are also holidays that
are celebrated for secular (non-religious) reasons, such
as New Year's Day, May 1st (Workers' Day), Independence
Days (May 20 and November 28), National Youth Day
(November 12), and National Heroes Day (December 7).
Four-party alliances are formed
Government formation becomes problematic. Fretilin calls for the Prime
Minister's post as Parliament's largest party. But CNRT forms a coalition with
PSD-ASDT and PD, and thus gets the support of 37 members. The Four-Party
Alliance takes on the name Alliance of Parliamentary Majority (AMP).
Fretilin wins in parliamentary elections
Parliamentary elections will be held on June 30 under calm conditions. The
election is referred to as free and fair by the EU election supervisor.
Fretilin will be the largest party with 29 percent of the vote, a sharp
reduction from 57 percent in the 2001 election. This gives the party 21 of the
parliament's 65 seats. CNRT takes home 24 percent (18 seats). Alliance
Social Democratic Party-Timorese Social Democratic Alliance (PSD-ASDT)
gets 11 seats, the Democratic Party (PD) 8,
while the other 7 seats are divided between three small parties. The turnout is
Ex-president wants to become prime minister
Outgoing President Xanana Gusmão announces that he is aiming for the Prime
Minister post after the parliamentary elections. To get a political platform,
Gusmão forms a new party, the National Congress for the Reconstruction
of East Timor (CNRT). In particular, the party
emphasizes the fight against poverty in its campaign.
The transitional government is appointed
A transitional government is set up with the task of leading the country up
to the parliamentary elections in June of that year. Temporary Prime Minister
becomes Estanislau da Silva.
Western friendly and market liberal president
Ramos Horta is considered by many East Timorians, especially young people, as
part of an older, Portuguese-dominated political elite. He left East Timor a few
days before Indonesia invaded the territory in 1975 and became leader of East
Timorese in exile. He also became one of the most important people in the work
to make the world aware of the oppression in East Timor during the occupation.
For that effort he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. Following the 1999
referendum, Ramos Horta returned to East Timor. He was initially associated with
Fretilin but after 1999 acted as an independent politician. Ramos Horta is
considered to be Western friendly and market liberal.
Ramos Horta wins the election
The second round of the presidential election is held. During the election
campaign, Guterre emphasizes increased security in the country, while Ramos
Horta emphasizes poverty reduction. Election day goes on peacefully. Ramos Horta
wins with 69 percent of the vote against 31 percent for Guterres. The turnout is
Guterres and Ramos Horta move on
Guterres receives 28 percent of the vote and Ramos Horta 22 percent. Since no
candidate achieves the 50 percent required for victory in the first round, a
second and decisive round will be held in May between the two candidates who
received the most votes: Guterres and Ramos Horta. The turnout is 82 percent.
Successful election day
However, the election day on April 9 will be calm. In addition to problems
with getting enough ballots in some quarters, international observers from, for
example, the UN and the EU, consider the election to be free and fair.
Violence despite observers
A few hundred international observers are monitoring the election process,
and about 3,000 international police and soldiers are tasked with ensuring that
the election is calm. Nevertheless, violence erupts on several occasions when
Fretilin supporters and opponents clash.
Presidential elections are held
The first round of the presidential election is held. The incumbent President
Xanana Gusmão does not stand for re-election. The main candidates instead will
be the independent politician Josť Ramos Horta and Fretilin's chairman Francisco
"Lu Olo" Guterres.