What Do the Colors and Symbols of the Flag of East Timor Mean?

By Oishimaya Sen Nag on July 23 2018 in World Facts

The flag of East Timor.

A Brief History of East Timor

East Timor is a country in Maritime Southeast Asia. The country became a colony of Portugal in the 16th century, and was known as Portuguese Timor until it gained independence on November 28, 1975. However, this freedom was short-lived, as Indonesia invaded and occupied East Timor only nine days later. For decades, East Timor experienced violence as separatist groups fought with the Indonesian military. In 1999, with the help of the United Nations, East Timor moved closer to becoming an independent country again as Indonesia relinquished control of the territory. On May 20, 2002, East Timor became the 21st century’s first sovereign state.

History of the Flag

The national flag of East Timor was first adopted in 1975 during the country's brief nine-day period of independence. On April 1998, a new flag was suggested for the country during the East Timorese National Convention, and its design was previously used by the National Council of Timorese Resistance. However, use of this flag was temporarily. When East Timor gained its independence again in 2002, the flag first introduced in 1975 was readopted as the country's national flag.


The flag of East Timor features a red field with a black isosceles triangle on the hoist side of the flag. This triangle is superimposed on a larger yellow triangle, which is also based on the hoist side of the flag and has a height that is half the length of the flag. The black triangle features a white star with five points.


Each of the colors and symbols of East Timor’s flag have meaning. The red color symbolizes the country’s struggle for freedom, while the yellow triangle is believed to represent the traces of colonialism in the country's history. The black color symbolizes the country's "obscurantism that needs to be overcome," and the white star represents peace and guiding light.

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