TIMOR-LESTE: Among Asia’s poorest of the poor

TIMOR-LESTE (South East Asia)                                 

Population: 1.14 million

Over 43% of the population is under 15 years old, and 16% are under the age of five.

Fertility Rate:  5.9 children/woman (1970s) vs. 6.2 children/woman (2010)

Life Expectancy:  40 years (1970s) vs. 62 years (2010)

Infant mortality:  36.78 deaths / 1000 live births

Male/Female Ratio:  1.03 male  / female

Major Religions:  Catholicism

– Timor-Leste is one of the countries with the highest percentage of chronically malnourished children at 54%.  It also has one of the highest stunting rates in the world, with 58% of its children suffering from moderate to severe stunted growth.  Anemia is found in about 32% of pre-school aged children.

– Seventy-eight percent of women in Timor-Leste do not give birth in a health facility.  Up to 70% of under-five children do not have a birth certificate.

 – According to the law, men can marry at 18 and women at 15.  It is accepted that a child marriage takes place in Timor-Leste, mainly in cases where a marriage has been arranged at birth or as a result of extreme poverty where ‘barlake’ (bride-price) can be agreed.

 – Over 65% of women get married between the ages of 20-24. 

 – 8 percent of adolescents began childbearing by the age of 18 and 37% by the age of 19.

– Only 8 percent of women use any contraceptive method.  Among the small number of young women who did use contraceptives, the method preferred was the injectable contraceptive.

– The country is one of Asia’s poorest nations, with 42 % of the population living below the poverty line at $US 0.55 per day or less.   They depend on subsistence farming in the hot, semi-arid land, eking out a living growing rice, coffee, corn, tapioca, sweet potatoes, soybeans, mangoes, bananas and vanilla.

 – About half the adult population is illiterate. 

















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