COMMENTARY
 
How is Asia's, and the World's, Newest Nation Faring?
The Inter-Dependent
Vol. 4, No.2 (Summar 2006), p 14
Four years after gaining independence from Indonesia, the world's newest country is facing the gigantic task of nation building. The United Nations, which has administered three successive peacekeeping and peace building missions in the microstate since 1999, has been slowly withdrawing its presence as the mandate of its office in Timor-Leste, UNOTIL is set to expire before summer. Located on the eastern half of Timor Island in Southeast Asia, just north-west of Australia, Timor-Leste is struggling with limited resources and declining international support. A March 2006 report by the UN Development Program (UNDP), the principle UN organ assisting the Timorese with their government and economy, described the country as "politically free" but "chained by poverty." The report ranks Timor-Leste at the bottom of the list of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in terms of human development. Its per capita income is $370ten times less than that of Indonesia and it is falling. Poverty in Timor-Leste, according to the UNDP report, is most severe in rural areas, where 80 percent of the population survives on agriculture. With the vast proportion of new investments being directed to the capital city of Dili, the inequity is growing. Full Text