1945, 17 August

Indonesia declared its independence from The Netherlands


After an anti-communist pogrom, Suharto seized power from the first president, Sukarno, and established the New Order

1975, 7 December

Indonesia launched large-scale invasion in Dili

1976, 17 July

East Timor declared the 27th province of Indonesia


In March Fretilin was defeated as a fighting force. Several years later, under the leadership of Xanana Gusmão, the resistance re-grouped as a broad umbrella organisation with Falintil as the fighting wing.

1991, 12 November

Santa Cruz massacre in Dili left up to 400 mostly young people dead or missing. The publicity helped to galvanise international support for East Timor’s struggle.

1998, 21 May

Suharto forced to resign as president of Indonesia.

1999, 30 August

The people of East Timor voted against an autonomy option offered by Indonesia; a period of rule by the United Nations, UNTAET, followed.

2002, 20 May

The territory became the independent nation of Timor Leste.

Timor Leste is the new name, since 2002. This is Portuguese for East Timor. During the Indonesian period the territory was also referred to as East Timor in English, a translation of the Indonesian, Timor Timur. In the Portuguese period it was known as Portuguese Timor. Here we often use Timor Leste out of recognition that this is their chosen name, even though it is in most cases historically incorrect.