East Timor

The first new nation of the 21st century is located in Southeast Asia, just north of Australia. A Portuguese colony from the 17th century until 1975, Timor-Leste (the Portuguese name for East Timor) shares the island of Timor with Indonesia. When the Portuguese left in 1975, Indonesia invaded and annexed East Timor. The United Nations condemned Indonesia's occupation, and in 1999 a UN-organized referendum showed that most East Timorese wanted independence. Militias caused damage after the vote, but the UN guided East Timor to independence on May 20, 2002. The new country is the poorest in Asia, but oil in the Timor Sea promises future revenue.