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Timor-Leste Country Report

Country Risk Level



Executive Summary

Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak leads a new coalition that controls 41 seats out of Timor-Leste’s 65-seat parliament, after withdrawing his resignation in April 2020 in order to deal with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus pandemic. He had submitted his resignation in February following his failure to pass the 2020 state budget. Given his comfortable majority, Ruak is likely to be able to obtain parliamentary approval for the USD1.49-billion 2020 budget in early October. The new coalition means that former president Xanana Gusmão and his CNRT party are now in opposition following his failure to unseat Ruak and form a new government. Gusmão champions infrastructure expansion and the development of Timor-Leste’s nascent oil and gas industry, while Ruak and his coalition emphasise human resources and rural development. Timor-Leste’s key concern is financial stability: the Bayu-Undan gas field, which contributes approximately 90% of the country’s export revenue, is expected to run dry by around 2022. The development of the Greater Sunrise offshore gas field is therefore crucial as an alternative source of fiscal revenue. In August 2019, Timor-Leste and Australia signed a maritime boundary treaty, but the likelihood of the Greater Sunrise gas field being developed remains low in the five-year outlook. Timor-Leste’s infrastructure remains a major constraint on longer-term growth prospects. However, infrastructure investment is nonetheless expected to increase, with the government setting aside USD4.5 billion from 2017 to 2021 for an autonomously managed Infrastructure Fund that will aim to improve all types of infrastructure and public buildings. With ongoing growth in infrastructure-related construction activity, IHS Markit expects the country’s imports to increase in the near term.

Operational Outlook

Timor-Leste's open attitude towards foreign investment is negated by a shortage of skills, governance issues, and inadequate infrastructure. Power and telecommunications are expensive and unreliable, although the government is undertaking initiatives to develop these sectors. Labour costs are comparatively high, despite a surplus of unskilled labour and a young workforce.


Terrorism risks in Timor-Leste are low. The killing of leading political dissident Mauk Moruk in August 2015 reduced the risk of armed attacks by domestic groups. There are no known terrorist groups operating in the country, although the borders with Indonesia are a source of other security threats such as smuggling.


.Overall crime rates are low. Foreign visitors are rarely targeted in incidents of violent crime, which tend to involve local residents and be related to domestic criminality. The main risks are opportunistic, petty crime, such as pickpocketing, house break-ins, and car theft, particularly in bigger cities such as Dili and Baucau. The most common organised crime groups in Timor-Leste are street gangs and martial arts gangs.

War Risks

There is a low risk of war between Timor-Leste and its neighbours: Indonesia and Australia. There has been no major security incident on the border between Indonesia and Timor-Leste since the latter's independence, and any border dispute is likely to be resolved diplomatically. Timor-Leste's ties relations with Australia are also generally constructive, particularly given the recent resolution and ratification of the maritime boundary agreement. Future discussion over oil and gas revenue sharing in the Timor Sea will be done diplomatically, and there are no indications that they will lead to any form of military conflict.

Social Stability

There is a moderate risk of gang-related fighting in cities such as Dili, Baucau, and Viqueque. The government banned martial arts gangs in September 2013, but it is unlikely that the problem will disappear entirely given the high rate of youth unemployment. Occasional protests against corruption and other domestic political issues are likely and can lead to fighting with the police, with protesters throwing rocks at vehicles and security personnel. There is a low risk of labour protests.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Timor-Leste is situated in an active seismic zone and as such is prone to earthquakes, such as the one along the coast on December 2016 (6,6 on Richter scale).


Finally, foreign visitors should take into account the fact that roads are poorly maintained and accidents occur frequently. It is therefore best to avoid driving at night.

Practical Information


Timor-Leste's climate is tropical with steady temperatures throughout the year and high levels of humidity. There are two seasons: the wet monsoon (November to March) and the dry monsoon (April to October).

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +670
Police: 723 06 86


Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz


Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal