East Timor was colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, and was known as Portuguese Timor until Portugal's decolonization of the country.
East Timor declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975, and was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. It was incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of East Timor. During the subsequent 24-year occupation, a campaign of pacification ensued. Between 1974 and 1999, there were an estimated 102,800 conflict-related deaths (approximately 18,600 killings and 84,200 'excess' deaths from hunger and illness), the majority of which occurred during the Indonesian occupation.
On 30 August 1999, in a UN-sponsored referendum, an overwhelming majority of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. Immediately following the referendum, anti-independence Timorese militias — organised and supported by the Indonesian military — commenced a punitive scorched-earth campaign. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and forcibly pushed 300,000 people into West Timor as refugees. The majority of the country's infrastructure was destroyed. On 20 September 1999 the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) was deployed to the country and brought the violence to an end. Following a United Nations-administered transition period, East Timor was internationally recognised as an independent state on 20 May 2002.
Timorese groups fought a campaign of resistance against Indonesian forces for the independence of East Timor, during which many atrocities and human rights violations by the Indonesian army were reported. The Indonesian army is reported to have trained and supplied militias imported from Indonesia to terrorise the population. Foreign powers such as the Australian government worked to prevent the push for independence, and assisted the Indonesian government in obscuring and discouraging media reporting on atrocities committed by Indonesian militias.
East Timor is a lower-middle-income economy. It continues to suffer the aftereffects of a decades-long independence struggle against Indonesia, which damaged infrastructure and displaced thousands of civilians. It is placed 120th by Human Development Index (HDI).