Religion in East Timor


East Timor, along with some countries in Africa, had the fastest natural increase in population in the world in the early 1990s. During the period 2000and10, the birth rate averaged 40 per thousand and the death rate was 9 to 10 per thousand. In addition, there was a relocation of many who moved to the western part of the island in connection with the violence in 1999. The growth rate has decreased during the 2010s, but the population is nevertheless very young.

In 2019, 31 percent of residents lived in cities. The capital Dili has 192,600 residents (2011), while the second largest city of Baucau had only about 20,000.

People in East Timor


In East Timor, 15-20 native languages are spoken, about half of which belong to the Austronesian language family and the others are believed to be closely related to languages spoken in New Guinea. (Disagreement prevails both on the number of languages and on their relationship.) As an interpersonal language, the Austronesian tetum is used. This is also the official language along with Portuguese, which has a strong position since the colonial era.


According to thesciencetutor, nearly the entire population of East Timor belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. The area was never reached by the Islamic mission during the Middle Ages, and when the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century, there were only native tribal religions. The population soon transferred in its entirety to the Catholic Church. Through the liberation, where peace prize bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo played an important role, the Catholic Church has gained an even stronger position as a national identity factor. The majority of the country’s Muslims, Hindus and Protestants wanted to maintain ties with Indonesia and left East Timor in connection with the liberation. General religious freedom is guaranteed and has for the most part been respected. Many pre-Christian conceptions and customs remain in parts of East Timor.

East Timor Religion