Post independance, Timor Leste has become a predominantly Catholic country with 98% of citizens following Catholocism, 1% Protestant and less than`1% Muslim. There are no stipulations on religious beliefs and constitution drafted since the forming of the new government have backed up Timor Leste's freedom of religion viewpoints. The number of Protestants and Muslims have declined mostly due to the number of Indonesians that resided in Timor Leste prior to independance who have since moved back to Indonesia. With the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Timorese into Indonesia at that time, many of the Muslim and Protestant following have also chosen to stay rather than migrating back to Timor Leste.


Timor Leste has two official languages in Portugese and Tetum. Outside of those there is a rich and diverse range of other local languages spoken.

(Image source:  Ministry of Finance, Timor Leste. Edited :  J. Patrick Fischer)

Within Codo and the suco of Maina II, 80% of all language spoken is Fataluku. The other two languages that are predominantly used are Makasae and a dialect of it called 'Sa'ane'.  All three of these languages are derived from a Papuan language of origin.


Timor Leste

Timor-Leste’s Constitution embeds medical care as a fundamental right for all citizens and imposes a duty on the government to promote and establish a national health system that is universal, general, free of charge and, as much as possible, decentralised and participatory. 

Health indicators have shown good signs of progress over the past ten years: 78% of children are now treated for basic illnesses; 86% of mothers now receive some degree of antenatal care; and the incidence of malnourished women has decreased by 29% in the past decade. Millennium Development Goals have been reached for infant and under five mortality rates. Successful treatment of tuberculosis (TB) patients reached 85%; and in 2010, the fertility rate fell to 5.7, a decrease from 7.8 in 2003.

However, chronic malnutrition among children in Timor-Leste is still very high, although the situation is improving. One third of children under the age of five years and one third of all women suffer from anaemia. Not all solutions in regards to health can be solved with public health and medical services and many other design areas will effect change within the country.

Initiatives in the Agriculture/Climate Change section dealing with food self-sufficiency, increased livestock production and fisheries, will enable more diversified and nutritionally-balanced diets. Infrastructure/Energy initiatives such as the provision of electrical systems powered either by renewable energies or from distribution lines direct to houses will reduce respiratory diseases by reducing pollutants from traditional indoor cooking. Proper sanitation will reduce the spread of communicable diseases transferred in waste and improved water supplies will reduce the amount of stomach-borne illnesses and infections. Better housing facilities, lower fertility rates, increased knowledge of family planning, and a decrease in overcrowding in households will reduce transferable and airborne diseases. National integration of roads, telecommunications and access to the internet will provide connectivity to enable more immediate responses to the management of urgent and critical health care issues.

(Source: TL Strategic Development Plan, 2011)


A total of 56.7% of the sucos have a functional health service at the suco level. For those 43.3% who do not have access to a health service, they need to walk, on average, 3 hours to the nearest health post – this is particularly disadvantaging women as they are the primary carers of their young. Yet, it was reported that 80% of the sucos receive monthly visits from the mobile health clinic. There is one district hospital located in Los Palos; 4 community health centres; 19 health posts; 15 mobile clinic sites. In addition, there is the Canossian clinic and the Imanuel Clinic of Protestant church located in Los Palos and MDM operating in children’s nutrition.78 In 2006, Lautem had one of the highest national rates of immunization for children under one year.

(Source: Plan Baseline Study of Lautem, 2008)


During the transition period to independence, education infrastructure was largely destroyed. Since that time there has been huge efforts to restore current infrastructure and expand education with more schools, teachers and educational structure and guidelines. Currently and for many years, Timor Leste has been the highest spending country in the world on education as a percentage of GDP (16.8%, CIA World Factbook 2012). Due to the government, church groups and ngo's, there has been a large improvement in the level and participation of education, but much more work is still to be achieved.

Only 11% of Timorese children from three years old to six years old currently attend pre-school. Enrolment rates are much higher in urban areas than in rural regions. The importance communities place on pre-schools is illustrated by the fact that 140 of the 180 pre-primary schools are community-supported schools. Child Friendly Spaces (CFSs) have an integral part to play in continuing community involvement and developing attitudes towards education such that enrolment rates will increase. This will have a cascading effect on drop-out rates further down the educational cycle and also in the time taken for Timorese children to finish schooling creating an educated and informed society.