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East Timor

Timor Lorosa’e / Timor-Leste

Last modified: 2003-02-01 by antonio martins
Keywords: east timor | timor-leste | timor lorosa’e | star: 5 points (white) | arrow head | triangle (black): hoist | leitão (natalino) | stamp | law | rdtl | constitution | honra, pátria e povo | república democrática de timor-le |
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Flag of East Timor
by Manuel Gabino, 28 Sep 2002
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About the flag

Following the (overwhelming) victory of FRETILIN in the parliamentary elections, the constitutional assembly restored all the symbols from the 1975 independence, including the name, the flag, the hymn, etc. The hymn is causing some uproar, and will probably have its lyrics changed, but the version sang in the independence ceremony was the 1975 one. In the ceremony, by the way, what was declared was the «restoration of the independence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor»...
Jorge Candeias, 20 May 2002

The East Timor national flag will be raised tomorrow (20 May 2002) at the nation’s independence celebrations. (Darwin based manufactor Ron Strachan who has had made and supplied the new flag for East Timor, informed me earlier today that eyelets have been placed along the top of the large 7,2 m × 3,6 m flag so that it may be raised or displayed horizontally depending upon the conditions on the day.
Ralph Bartlett, 19 May 2002

In Tetum language, the territory is called Timor Loro Sa’e, meaning "Timor of the rising sun". This is the name adopted for the new state. In the other two official languages of the country, portuguese and bahasa indonesian, it’s spelled "Timor-Leste" and "Timor Timur" (both meaning "east-east" because "Timor" is a portuguese (or local) corruption of "timur", "east"), respectively.
Jorge Candeias, 29 Oct 1999

From the UN web page (

27 September — The General Assembly will admit Timor-Leste, formerly East Timor, as the 191st Member State of the United Nations today.
Interesting, isn’t it? It seems that Timor-Leste will be listed as UN member under its Portuguese, not English name («formerly»!!!), like Cote d’Ivoire and Myanmar.
Jan Zrzavy, 27 Sep 2002

Flag law in the Constitution

In East Timor only the national flag of is prescribed by the Constitution, while all other national symbols must be described by special laws.
Jan Zrzavy, 17 May 2002

The Timorese Constitution already approved states:

1. The National Flag is rectangular and is formed by two isosceles triangles, the bases of which are overlapping. One triangle is black and its height is equal to one-third of the length overlapped to the yellow triangle, whose height is equal to half the length of the Flag. In the centre of the black triangle there is a white star of five ends, meaning the light that guides. The white star has one of its ends turned towards the upper right end of the flag. The remaining part of the flag is red.
Manuel Gabino, 05 May 2002

Differences respective to 1975


The 1:2 ratio is not prescribed in the constitution, only in the UNTAET specifications. (As also the darker color shades.)
António Martins, 25 Sep 2002

I was in Timor Leste (East Timor, Timor Lorosae) in the end of June 2002; the flags, made of cotton, are 1:2, maybe because they were produced in Australia (I heard it here). Paper flags and flags on T-Shirts are 2:3. They seem to be as official as the 1:2, because in Timorese parliament, the representatives has paper flags on their table.
J. Patrick Fischer, 07 Aug 2002

Why did all or nearly all the East Timorese flags in use all these years have been 2:3 or whereabouts?
Jorge Candeias, 26 May 2002

Though the ratio was not fixed in the 1975 constitution, 2:3 has been in consistent use ever since. I cant’ see any valid reason for the new 1:2 ratio — but apparently it is the law. (I just hope it was not “imposed” by some kind of manufacturing constraints made in Australia...)
António Martins, 22 May 2002

My point is that the recently re-approved DRET constitution of 1975 should have caused the approval of the 2:3 ratio established by tradition based upon that very document. Any contrary opinions should prove either that there was no such tradition or that the original constitution prescribed 1:2 after all.
António Martins, 10 Jun 2002

In 1978, Vexilologie 27 [vex] has presented some details on the East Timorese national flag (i.e. that of 1975). As a source, FB XVI:4 [tfb] is mentioned. According to this article, the 1975 flag is exaclty the same as the present day, including the flag ratio 1:2. As an author of the flag is mentioned Natalino Leitão, and description of the flag is reported as in Article No. 20 of the (former) constitution.
Jan Zrzavy, 26 May 2002

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste has been admited in the UN. The flag shown in this photo is 2:3 as all those hoisted outside the UN building.
Manuel Gabino, 27 Sep 2002

It’s interesting to note that the very same UN who come up with a never-heard-of prescription for 1:2 national flag ratio, now uses a 2:3 flag at its flag yard in New York.
António Martins, 30 Sep 2002

Orientation of the star?

The only variarion was (in 1975-1999) ever the orientation of the star, mostely depicted pointing up. Unlike the ratio and color shades, though, the orientation of the star (to upper hoist) is specified in the constitution.
António Martins, 27 May 2002 and 25 Sep 2002

National emblem

Emblem of East Timor click to enlarge
by Manuel Gabino, 11 Sep 2002

The central emblem is the well known C.N.R.T. shield and the motto is also based on Falintil’s.
António Martins, 11 Sep 2002

Behind the shield there is a yellow sun with 14 rays. All surounded by a light blue circle with the black text "REPÚBLICA DEMOCRÁTICA DE TIMOR-LESTE" and between two white stars "RDTL". Under the circle is a red banner with the black words "HONRA, PÁTRIA E POVO".
J. Patrick Fischer, 13 Aug 2002

Flag on stamps

The stamps issued by East Timor on 20 May 2002, with the inscription "Independência 2002" include a $2 value showing this very flag. The currency is US dollars.
Mike Oettle, 26 Jun 2002

Australia Post has designed and printed the first postage stamps for newly independent East Timor. One of the four stamps shows the national flag, as also the First Day Cover.
Ralph Bartlett, 23 May 2002

Here it is, on the Australian Post web site:
Evan Who, 23 May 2002