Timor & Hatolia Background


Timor-Leste is a young nation that lies about 700 kilometres north west of Darwin, occupying the eastern half of the island of Timor that is part of the Indonesian archipelago. After achieving independence from Indonesia in May 2002, and then enduring six years of political turmoil, the country has settled down with the calming influence of U.N peacekeeping forces (now withdrawn) and is gradually building its economic, social and physical infrastructure. Oil revenues and international aid funding, with substantial input from Australia, provide the financial basis for this development. However, there is still a long way to go and Timor-Leste remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Providing employment for the increasing numbers of educated young people is a particular challenge.

                             Timor-Leste’s location in relation to the Australian mainland


Hatolia is the name of a “Suco” or sub-district in Timor-Lese, and also a village in that district. Hatolia is in a mountainous region with a temperate climate and distinct wet (October to May) and dry seasons. Most of the population work in agriculture, predominately growing and harvesting coffee. This is one of the most beautiful districts in Timor-Leste with spectacular mountain and river scenery, waterfalls and friendly, hospitable people.

Hatolia is located about 100 kilometres by road, south west of the capital Dili. The connecting road is unsealed and often in poor condition, especially over the last 50 or so kilometres of its length. Consequently, it can take half a day or more to reach the village from Dili in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

                             Location of Hatolia

The main ethnic group is the Mambae, while the Kemak represents a strong minority (around 30%) in Hatolia. Most of the population is bilingual, speaking their own language (either Mambae or Kemak) plus Tetum. Portuguese is spoken by the intellectual leadership and by a few older people, and the majority of the population understands Bahasa Indonesia.

The 2010 census revealed that 34,999 lived in the Hatolia Sub-district with 57% aged less than 19 years. The town has a primary school, a secondary school, a helipad, a community health centre and police station. There is a number of outlying hamlets, some of which also have primary schools.