• Census Background and Objectives

Home » Census » Census Background and Objectives Print Page

Census Background and Objectives


Population censuses have been conducted in Timor-Leste since the Portuguese colonization, but they were mainly undertaken for administrative and taxation purposes. The fi rst comprehensive census was undertaken in 1980 during the Indonesian occupation, when the population was recorded at 555,350. The 1990 census enumerated 747,557 persons. The fi rst post-independence census was undertaken in 2004 and enumerated 923,198 persons. Thus, the 2010 TLS Census is the second to be undertaken in Timor-Leste since independence and

the fourth since 1980. It enumerated 1,066,409 persons.

Timor-Leste’s post-independence censuses are historically de facto and conducted with the midnight of 11/12 July as the reference point in time. They have also used canvasser method of enumeration (interviewers visit households, ask questions and record responses on the questionnaires) as recommended for countries with a similar socio-economic development status.



The primary objective of the 2010 TLS Census is to provide the Government and other stakeholders with essential benchmark information on the demographic, social and economic characteristics of the population. The possibilities of using these data are diverse they include formulation and monitoring of national development programs, allocation of national resources, the review of administrative and electoral boundaries, locating social infrastructure (such as schools and hospitals) and research.

The specific objective is to provide data on:

  1. Size, composition and spatial distribution of the population
  2. Levels of education attained by the population
  3. Size and deployment of the labour force
  4. Prevalence, types and causes of disabilities
  5. Levels of fertility, mortality and migration
  6. Rate and patterns of urbanization
  7. Housing conditions and availability of household amenities
  8. Proportion of households in agricultural production and livestock rearing