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Memorial Day in East Timor – December 7, 2024

Memorial Day in East Timor is celebrated on December 7 every year. This festival honors the year 1975 when Portugal granted East Timor its independence. Did you know the true meaning of East Timor? It’s “Eastern East.” Yes, the word “Timor” originates from the Indonesian and Malay words “timur” and “leste,” which both mean “east” and “east,” respectively. Read on to learn even more intriguing facts about this nation. Like, what exactly led to East Timor’s colonization by both the Portugees and Indonesians and how did they gain their independence? We have all the answers.

History of Memorial Day in East Timor

East Timor is an island nation located in the eastern part of Timor, an island in the Indonesian archipelago that lies between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. One surprising fact about East Timor is that, after Indonesia, East Timor’s closest neighbor is Australia, 400 miles to the south. East Timor was first colonized by the Portuguese in 1520 and the western portion of the island, including many surrounding islands, was claimed by the Dutch.

Over the years, Portugal and the Netherlands fought over the island until an 1860 treaty divided Timor. This granted Portugal the eastern half of the island as well as the western enclave of Oecussi. During World War II, Australia and Japan fought over the island, in which nearly 50,000 East Timorese died during the subsequent Japanese occupation. The Netherlands gave up its colonies in the Dutch East Indies in 1949, including West Timor, and the nation of Indonesia was born.

Later, in 1975, the Portuguese abruptly pulled out after 455 years of colonization. However, this independence proved to be very short-lived as Indonesia invaded nine days later and East Timor was declared a province of Indonesia in 1976. During this Indonesian occupation, the Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation in East Timor estimated a minimum of 102,000 conflict-related deaths during the occupation. According to reports, 18,000 people were killed in the fighting and over 80,000 died from famine and illness. The date of the Indonesian invasion, December 7, 1975, was chosen as a day to honor and remember those brave souls who perished during the time of the occupation.

Memorial Day in East Timor timeline

The First Colonization

Portuguese colonists arrive on the island and settle there.

The Rise of Indonesia

Indonesia is established after the Netherlands gives up its territories.

The Short-lived Independence

East Timor gets its independence from Portugal but is immediately attacked by Indonesia.

The Invasion by Indonesia

East Timor is invaded by Indonesia, which then claims it as a province.

Memorial Day in East Timor FAQs

What was East Timor called before?

For centuries, it was known as ‘Portuguese Timor’.

Why did Indonesia want East Timor?

So they could have access to the significant amounts of oil and natural gas claimed to be under the Timor Sea.

Why is East Timor one of the poorest countries?

Poor governance, coupled with a lack of accountability and transparency has made East Timor unable to break out of the trap of poverty.

How to Observe Memorial Day in East Timor

  1. Participate in the festivities

    The festivities and events that take place in East Timor on this day are open to spectators and participants alike. Witnessing Memorial Day in East Timor firsthand is the greatest way to remember it.

  2. Visit East Timor

    If you're looking for a sign to take a trip, consider going to East Timor, which is a fantastic location that is rich in culture, richness, and beautiful nature. We’re sure you won’t regret it!

  3. Share your story

    If you've been fortunate enough to visit the lovely nation of East Timor, share your fascinating tale about anything that happened there. Make sure to spread the word about it on social media!

5 Incredible Facts About East Timor

  1. It does not have a heritage site

    East Timor is one of the 27 countries that doesn’t have a single UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  2. It has a rich marine ecosystem

    East Timor’s biodiverse waters have 643 species of water organisms.

  3. It has 30 plus languages

    There are around 32 indigenous languages spoken in East Timor.

  4. It’s a Christian country

    East Timor is one of the important Christian countries in Southeast Asia.

  5. Its population struggles with hunger

    East Timor is among the world’s ‘hungriest’ nations.

Why Memorial Day in East Timor is Important

  1. It’s all about history

    East Timor observes Memorial Day as a national holiday in honor of its independence. The work, adversity, and sacrifice of hundreds of people led to East Timor's independence.

  2. It is a day to celebrate

    Even though most businesses and offices may be closed on Memorial Day in East Timor, the day is nonetheless celebrated with festivals. This gives you a reason to celebrate and enjoy independence!

  3. It’s a day to remember

    On Memorial Day in East Timor, people remember, recognize, and show their appreciation for those who contributed to the country's freedom. Therefore, it would be unfair to disregard the day.

Memorial Day in East Timor dates

2024December 7Saturday
2025December 7Sunday
2026December 7Monday
2027December 7Tuesday
2028December 7Thursday

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