The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste celebrated its national day Saturday, which commemorates the restoration of the Southeast Asian nation’s independence on May 20, 2002.  

Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor, has a complicated colonial history which was fraught with struggle. The country’s struggles for independence culminated in its recognition as a sovereign state in May 2002 by the United Nations.  

This made Timor-Leste the first new sovereign state of the 21st century.  

Timor-Leste was colonised by the Portuguese for around four centuries. After the nation gained independence from the Portuguese in 1975, Indonesia promptly invaded the country to become its coloniser.

At the turn of the 20th century, Indonesia permitted a UN-backed referendum of independence in Timor-Leste, in which the East Timorese overwhelmingly voted for independence.  

Despite its colonial past, Timor-Leste’s story in Southeast Asia is turning into one of peace as the Southeast Asian nation is on track to becoming a member of economic and political union Association of Southeast Asian Nations. 

With the past firmly behind them, Indonesia and Timor-Leste are now on good terms with Jakarta firmly supporting Dili’s ASEAN membership.  

Diplomatic Network (Asia) wishes to take this opportunity to congratulate Her Excellency Natalia Carracalao, ambassador of Timor-Leste to the Republic of Singapore and its mission on this special occasion.