After almost 500 years of colonial contact and rule, East Timor is the youngest nation in Southeast Asia. It is located to the northwest of Australia, at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago, and covers the eastern half of the island of Timor. Much of the current population, numbering about one million, speaks Tetun (or Tetum) and Portuguese as their official languages. East Timor was under the Portuguese control until 1975, and was occupied by Indonesia until 1999, then became fully independent in 2002. A two decade struggle for independence from Indonesia destroyed a majority of the country's infrastructure, including homes, irrigation systems, water supply systems, schools, and nearly 100% of the country's electrical grid.
Timor was originally inhabited by Papuan language speakers before the arrival of Tetun speakers from Celebes Island about a thousand years ago. Following trade network connections and colonization by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Portuguese also became a spoken language in East Timor. It was as equally important of a language as was Tetun. The Latin writing system, employed in Portuguese writing, was also adopted to write Tetun. Following its independence from Indonesia in 2002, East Timor tried to develop an official Tetun language, based on Dili Tetun and other conservative and rural varieties, and to phase out Indonesian from its administration. Studies about East Timor are on the rise. Publications in Tetun are also increasing steadily alongside those in English and Portuguese. Besides information in printed formats, electronic information is also available and the people of East Timor are beginning to embrace this technology. The East Timor government is now establishing an increasingly large presence on the Web to introduce its young nation to the world.