Timor-Leste gained independence on 20 May 2002. The new
government, realizing the importance of having information on population
and housing for the entire country, conducted the first post-independence
population census in July 2004 and Second Population and housing
July 2010 . The main aim of the Census of
Population and Housing was to provide a wealth of relevant and reliable
information at different levels of disaggregation, to be used for several
purposes, but especially for development planning.
It is important to emphasize that a population and housing
census was essential for Timor-Leste. During and after independence
substantial transformations took place, including demographic changes.
Previously available data would have been misleading for planning in a
new country. Nevertheless, many stakeholders were skeptical about the
possibility of conducting a successful census. In spite of the doubts and
reservations, the National Statistics Directorate and the United Nations
Population Fund (UNFPA) took the challenge.
Indeed, UNFPA organized the necessary technical and human
resource support and provided the major part of the funding needed to carry
out the census. Since 2002 two UNFPA Census Projects have been supporting
census activities. Additional contributions were provided by: Australia,
Ireland, New Zealand and the United States, JICA.
After long and careful preparations, which included mapping,
the elaboration of a questionnaire, a pilot census, the organization of a
census administrative structure, training and publicity, the census
interviews were conducted for approximately three weeks after the census
commencement date (11 July 2010). The census questionnaires had to be
answered according to the respondent's location and circumstances on the
date designated as the Official Census Date, that is, 11 July.
The census questionnaire
designed for households was available in four languages: Tetun, Portuguese, English and Indonesian. Copies of
the English, Portuguese and Tetum
questionnaires are included in this Website. There were special
questionnaires for institutions such as prisons, orphanages, convents and
boarding schools, and also one questionnaire for hotels.
It is important to mention that a major question that
emerged before the census was, how to ensure a complete enumeration of
the population in a country without addresses, street names or a land
cadastre. The solution was to use Global Positioning System (GPS)
Technology to create an independent database containing the location of
every household in Timor-Leste.
GPS is a space-based radio-navigation system which provides
users with accurate information about their position, velocity and time,
anywhere in the world and in all weather conditions.
A pair of latitude and longitude coordinates, known as a
waypoint, was recorded at the doorstep of every dwelling in the country.
A sticker with a unique number was placed on both the door of the
dwelling occupied by the household and onto the front page of the
questionnaire. The number from the sticker was keyed into the GPS
receiver at the time the waypoints were recorded and this information was
downloaded onto computers at a later stage. During processing the
waypoints were combined with the household data on the unit record file.
In this way, a rich and powerful dataset that links spatial data with
census data was obtained.
Timor-Leste is very proud to claim to be the first country
anywhere in the world to base its national census on a GPS survey of 100%
of its households.
It is expected that the results of the 2010 Census, the
several analyses and dissemination products that are being produced, will
be the main confirmation of a very successful census in Timor-Leste. As
the country faces the challenges of planning its future development, it
is hoped that the census results will bring closer the date when the country
will adopt a population policy to ensure that there is a sustainable and
harmonious balance between population growth, population distribution,
the economy and the environment.