East Timor – 2007
East Timor, one of the world’s smallest nations, is also one of its poorest. Most of its 800,000 people depend for a living on subsistence farming and fishing and live outside the cash economy, with only about 25,000 receiving a regular wage, on average less than $200 a year.
There are potentially lucrative oil and gas reserves in the Timor Gap, an area lying in the sea between the island and Australia. The two nations signed a deal that will give east Timor $180m in annual oil and gas royalties over 20 years. Oil is regarded as the savior, offering the chance of a steady income stream to underpin the spending on education, health and skills training that East Timor desperately needs.