East Timor, also known as Timor-Leste, is one of the youngest nations on earth. Having been colonized by Portugal rather than by the Netherlands, as surrounding islands of Indonesia were, East Timor did not welcome rule by Indonesia after the colonizers left. Unfortunately, there was violence between the people of East Timor and Indonesia for decades before East Timor finally became independent on May 20, 2002.
It's interesting to see how language and religious differences are dealt with during times of conflict. You may know that more Muslims live in Indonesia than anywhere else in the world; East Timor, on the other hand, is one of only two Asian nations that is predominantly Roman Catholic. (Can you guess the other?) The Portuguese language, alone with Tetum, is widely spoken in East Timor, but when Indonesia ruled over East Timor, Portuguese was banned! The language was still used by the resistance forces, however, and it became a symbol of freedom. Isn't it ironic that the language of a conquering / colonizing force (Portugal) -- which squelched freedom for centuries -- became a symbol of freedom against another invasive force?
East Timor is part of the so-called Coral Triangle, an area of coral reefs with the highest coral diversity in the world.
|Click the map to see an enlarged view.|
Note that East Timor is called Osttimor. Ost means “east.”
Check out coral!
You probably already know that coral reefs are built by tiny animals that are cousins of jellyfish. Coral polyps secrete calcium carbonate to built a hard skeleton, and there are many different colors and shapes of living corals. Coral reefs provide great homes to many other creatures such as mollusks and fish.
The Art Predator has gathered together some links to help kids learn about coral reefs.
The Reef Education Network has a website with info and activities and opportunities to make a difference in the worldwide efforts to protect coral reefs.