Landscape of Baucau Timor-Lorosa'e

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Baucau Timor-Lorosa'e (Timor-Leste)

File:Praia de Baucau-Bondura , Timor-Lorosa'e.jpg
Beach of Bondura (Baucau), Timor-Lorosa'e
File:Baucau timor lorosae 87.jpg
Beach of Bondura (Baucau)
File:Baucau timor lorosae 75.jpg
Baucau Venilale - Green Color of Nature
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Baucau Wataboo Beach - Nobel Peace Street
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Baucau Giant Rock in Wataboo like Turtle
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Magnificent of Matebian Rock

Baucau is East Timor's second largest city, behind Dili. It is located on the northern coast of East Timor, east of Dili. The city has East Timor's only major airport outside of the capital. During the political events of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the city found itself accommodating an influx of overseas jets and airplanes shipping people and supplies into the country. But Baucau has always been an important administrative and agricultural centre. It is the capital of a district with the same name.


Situated 129 kilometers East of Dili, Baucau covers 1,600 square kilometers of land and serves as a gateway for the neighboring districts of Lautem, Viqueque and Manatuto.

The town of Baucau, which lies at about 512 meters above sea level, enjoys a more moderate temperature than most of the District. The rainy season occurs between the months of November and April.

The District is divided into six sub-districts: Baucau, Laga, and Vemasse with a coastal plain, while Venilale, Quelicai, and Baguia are located inland.

Baucau is the second largest district in East Timor with a population of about 113,000 inhabitants, according to the chiefs of village registration. During the 2001 civil registration process 96,000 inhabitants were registered.

According to UNHCR statistics returnees to Baucau District came back as follows :

1999 600 persons 2000 1 070 persons 2001 261 persons 2002 13 persons

Total : 1 944 persons Local languages spoken in Baucau include Makkasae for the majority, Waim’ua in Baho, Caibada, Bucoli and Vemasse Fo'ho villages, Midiki in Venilale and Naueti in Baguia.

A number of people above 40 understand Portuguese and most of the others, including the younger population generally understand Bahasa Indonesia. Portuguese is being taught in all schools and some English in the secondary.

Baucau was the second town in East Timor to be settled by the Portuguese and gradually developed as an administrative center and trade port. The Portuguese constructed many of the buildings in Old town Baucau.

During the second World War the Japanese occupied Timor. There is evidence of the occupations on the road to Venilale at a sight called "Gua Tuju" (Seven Caves), where caves have been carved in the hillside called During the Indonesian occupation, which began in early December 1975, church was especially important in keeping the identity of the Timorese people and many schools were opened and run by the church. Today, most of the schools in the district are run by the Catholic church (SDK).

Baucau is an important religious Centre with Bishop Basilio Nascimento leading the diocese. Numerous religious institutions are concentrated in the District contributing to the education and vocational training of the population.

Some Protestant churches are existing and the mosque in Baucau Vila Nova has been rebuilt for a few families practicing in the area.

There is no Chinese shrine and the local families from Chinese origin have family altars in their home.

The political representation according to voting results is as follows: Fretilin,PD, PSD, UDT, Kota, UDC/PDC. The CPD/RDTL although abstracting itself from any participation in the electoral process is regularly setting up flag raising ceremonies and keeps training security groups.

The District Administration is fearing some disruption of public order during the celebration of Independence, scheduled in Baucau from 5 May to 15 May.

The District Administration is headed by Mr Marito Reis who is assisted by a Deputy, Mrs Micaela Ximenes, a Development Officer, Mr Marcelino Neto and three administrative staff. Every sub-district has a coordinator.

Every public sector has a head, who coordinates closely with the District Administration. (see Annex A District Civil Service Structure).

There are currently 60 sucos officially recognized in the District, 2 more than during the Indonesian time. Those are Mulia in the sub district of Laga, made of people moved from Quelicai and Triloka made of people from Bucoli. There is now a request for two more sucos, according to the "nureps" structure adopted by the CNRT.

They are Caisido and Caibada Macasai in the sub district of Baucau whose partition were adopted for geographical reasons during the Resistance. Although no official decision has been made, the suco survey of the Planning Commission included them in the Poverty Assessment process.


Baucau is a main producer of rice along with Viqueque in the eastern region.

The main rice producing areas are in Seisal, Buibao/Samalari, Tekinomata and Vemasse. However, the District has not developed its full potential. For example, Seisal has 6,000 square kilometers of arable land but is only using 770 square kilometers. Irrigation systems are periodically destroyed by floods and need reconstruction.

Large tractors are required in Baucau, Vemasse, Laga and Larisula/Baguia to expand the area under cultivation. This would require from the Department of Agriculture a clear policy on the use of tractors, creation of a central technical unit with drivers and mechanics and provide safe storage with a mechanism to buy crops from the farmers.

Fifty percent of the seed stocks are lost because of poor stocking, rodents or insects.

A FAO project of safe silos using laminated provided by FAO and locally worked by blacksmith is promoted by IRFED, in coordination with the District Department of Agriculture. A sample is on exhibit at the Agriculture Office in Vila Nova. The silo is sold for $9 to the farmers.

Cash crops. Highlands are favorable to vegetable growing, fruit trees, peanut, candle nut. Pilot projects are being initiated to improve seeds and farming techniques in Tiriloka/Baucau with JICA . A local NGO, LAHO, supported by Australian Aid started a silk farm and fruit trees nursery.

Farmers are eager to produce for the market but face difficulties finding buyers. Peanuts, candle nut and coprah were bought by Indonesia in the past.

Livestock. For rice production, Buffaloes are used in the low lands and Horses in the highlands. JICA is working on improving livestock management in parts of Baucau and Vemasse sub districts. Baucau does not have a veterinary center although the Department of Agriculture with the support of JICA organizes periodic vaccinations.

Fishery. Situated on the "Tasi Feto" (Northern) shore, the most promising in terms of fishing, Baucau enjoys a favorable position to develop this sector. However, it is still at the artisan level and without much respect for the ecosystem.

IRFED, in coordination with the Department of Fishery, has organized seminars to improve fishing technique and management. The IRFED program has provided small grants to groups of fishermen to buy equipment including small motors, nets, and refrigeration boxes.

Forestry. The District is producing much wood for construction of housing and furniture, especially in Baguia. However, reforestation efforts have been minimal.


Trade. There are shops concentrated in the Old Town Baucau that offer a broad range of goods.

Restaurants. There are two higher priced restaurants, Amalia and Benfica, and many others varying in quality and price. Women groups and the Canossian vocational school cater for special events.

Hotels. The Hotel Loro Sae has nine private rooms and two dormitories ($10 a night/room).

The Diocese hostel hosts special guests ($17 bed & breakfast). The Diocese is opening a new hostel in the upper part of Baucau.

In addition, the Flamboyant hotel is being reconstructed and there is much anticipation about the future management of it. The hotel could be an important asset for the town and could facilitate tourism in the future.

The SOFEBA, a Portughese / Timorese joint venture has been working on the rehabilitation and equipment of the building. A Portughese Turism commission will register people for training mid April.

Construction and carpentry. Carpenters and building contractors are numerous and actively involved in various public buildings and schools reconstruction. They are organized in an association headed by Mr. Elvino Goncalves.

One of the best is carpentry group named "Art and Design,” which got the contract for the Flamboyant hotel. In Buibao, on the road to Venilale, a brick factory using a traditional wood oven will be very busy if the Portuguese keep on rebuilding their historic buildings.

The last one being the "Escola do Reino" in Venilale and an old official residence downtown. Another small workshop is producing tiles pressed with a mixture of sand and cement which is a cheap and healthy alternative to the Asbestos. Automotive workshops only do small repairs. A larger workshop is operated by UNTAET, which services UN cars.

The diocese runs a typography, a carpentry workshop and a public works unit. Banking facilities. No full service banking facility currently exists in Baucau.

The Banking and Payment Authority (BPA) recently opened an exchange office to facilitate the use of the United States Dollar the official currency of East Timor.

Located in downtown Baucau next to the Police Station, it changes rupiah to dollars and large denomination dollars for smaller notes or coins.

Mineral resources. There is an abundant supply of limestone in the vicinity of Baucau town that could be used to produce cement and chalk. The quantity and quality of the limestone is not known because it has never been extracted. Experts from Indonesia did a survey of mineral resources in 1997 and 1998.

Large amounts of Manganese are present in Vemasse sub-district and on the Mate Bian Mountain in Quelicai sub- district. Gold, Silver, copper are present in the Vemasse sub-district and phosphate has been located in Quelicai.

Colored earth that can be used to produce paint extends from Laga to Lautem.

Near the town of Laga there is a salt lake that covers approximately 150,000 square meters and could be used for salt production.

Environment. The main hazards identified in the District are illegal logging, burn and slash practices and sudden river floods. The consequences are weighing on Agriculture with destruction of land through erosion, land slides and washing away of irrigation channel and rice fields.

Tourism. The pleasant climate of the highland, the beautiful setting of Baucau overlooking the sea, its proximity to picturesque beaches extending all the way to Laga and the presence of an airfield are pleading for the development of tourist facilities in the district.

The sub-district of Baguia also has much to offer. The road to Baguia winds through beautiful traditional housing, over fresh streams, and through shady rainforest. From the Afalocai village your eyes embrace a vast panorama towards the other two Afalocai, respectively in the sub-district of Uato Carbau and Uato Lari in Viqueque.

Venilale town in the highlands has lovely sightseeing, waterfalls and a hot spring in the area of Uai oli. Quelicai has a lively market twice a week and abundance of hiking tracks as well. All towns have the marks of 500 years of Portuguese presence with old forts and "pousadas" that make a romantic picture in tropical Timor.


Roads. The road from Dili is reasonably good and the connection with the port of Com, in the district of Lautem, has been restored. A Regional office for roads covers the eastern region and provides repair and maintenance services only on the main roads.

Maintenance of roads to the sub-district are left to the community with limited assistance from the road services department. Many villages remain cut-off for the whole rainy season, which limits communication and commerce. For example, the road to the sub- district of Baguia has a few very bad spots that need emergency repair each year.

Water Supply. The city water system will meet the needs of the population once the UNOPS/UNDP project will be implemented by Aguapor. A community water improvement program is managed by GTZ under a German bilateral cooperation agreement in cooperation with the Timorese NGO, Program "Be Mos" (PROBEM) through a Participatory Rural Appraisal method. ECHO is funding a program to construct water and sanitation facilities for primary schools.

The program is implemented by IRC in coordination with the Department of Education.

Electricity. The Power Station of Baucau is hoping to improve its power system. Currently, power is provided to Baucau and Laga every two nights because of a lack of sufficient generation capacity. Vemasse sub-district is linked to Manatuto generating facilities. Venilale, Quelicai and Baguia each have a small generator that provides a few hours of electricity per day.

Limited budgets and the absence of a policy on electricity limit the role of Power Authority to maintenance and operation of the main generator. A few villages willing to be connected to power are using grants from the Community Empowerment Project (CEP) to make connections in cooperation with the Power Authority.


Education. Baucau District is a major Educational Centre. At present in the district there are 72 primary schools with 443 teachers and 19,844 students, 15 junior secondary school with 143 teachers and 4,000 students, three senior secondary schools with 46 teachers and 1,656 students and two vocational schools (Fatumaca and Venilale) with 24 teachers and 322 students.

The church, salary being provided by the diocese when the government cannot appoint the teachers, runs the majority of the schools. Important schools include the Venilale Girls Vocational School run by the Salesian Sisters and the Fatumaca Vocational School and Agriculture Centre of Fatumaca run by the Salesian Fathers with a boarding school of 224 boys. In Baucau, there is the Brothers Marist secondary school, the Canossian Vocational School and the Ursuline Children pre school.

Trainings are being organized but do not still meet the needs, especially for the primary schools. The building hosting the Education Department is under reconstruction and will have a big meeting room suitable for this purpose.

Sports. Baucau is well equipped with sports facilities. A large Stadium with a running track and football field has recently been refurbished as weel as the main gymnasium. A swimming pool and tennis courts currently are being refurbished. Many area schools have basketball, football, volleyball and tennis facilities. The Confederacao Desportu Timor Leste (CDTL) supported by Australia is starting to reorganize sport tournaments.

Health. The regional hospital has 90 staff including two Timorese doctors and three Brazilian doctors including a surgeon, anaestethist and obstetrician. It has one ambulance to transport people from all sub-districts.

Each sub-district has a health center staffed with nurses, assistant nurses and a midwife. Health posts service the villages and have, usually, one or two nurses and a midwife. Their number of staff varies with population.

The services available in the health facilities are immunization, family planning, pre and post natal care and minor surgery. The leading causes of morbidity are malaria, dengue fever, diarrhea and tuberculosis. Post delivery casualties are also frequent, either for the baby or the mother.

Social services. In addition to education, the Church provides social services. In Laga and Venilale there are the Salesian Sisters Orphanages, which care for 120 and 129 girls respectively. In Baucau there is a leprosy clinic run by an Indonesian order. Emergency Services.

Portugal supports a fire brigade composed of one mobile cistern and one emergency transport vehicle. 19 firemen and two officers are paid by the Civil Service. Justice and law enforcement. Baucau is policed by the East Timorese Police Services, which is a force made up of international and local police officers.

A special Intervention Unit is being trained. There is a Human Rights focal point among the ETPS officers. Baucau is the Centre of justice for the eastern half of East Timor.

Criminal cases from Lautem, Viqueque and Manatuto are referred to the Baucau court, which has seven judges, three prosecutors and one public defender. The Baucau prison can hold twelve inmates during their prosecution for a maximum of four months. The prison needs further rehabilitation to be able to host the 120 inmates it was built for.

A full Human Rights training for prison guards was conducted in November and December 2001.

Transport and Communications

Airport. The international airport is operating under the management of Pacific Aeronautic Engineering (PAE), a Singaporean company, that has a 25-year contract. Before 1975, Australian planes arrived from Darwin to the airstrip, which can receive Boeing 767s and Airbus 310s and 330s.

Sea Port. A small port at Carabella in the sub-district of Vemasse can be used for small boats or barges.

Road transport. Public buses are very active and link Baucau to the east with Los Palos, to the south with Viqueque and Uato Lari and to the west with Dili through Manatuto. Local transport are also available to more remote villages when roads are in good condition. A one-way ticket to Dili from Baucau costs $US 2.00. On a difficult secondary road, such as the road from Baucau to Builale in the sub-district of Quelicai, a one-way ticket costs $US 1.50.

Media. Twenty-four hour radio Radio UNTAET programming is provided via a local FM radio transmitter. A team of local reporters cover the Baucau area for Radio UNTAET news. The community through a CEP program is currently considering the development of community radio.

Television broadcasts of Timor Loro Sae TV are shown every night on the local television transmitter. Programming is sent from Dili on videocassettes.

The daily newspapers, Timor Post and Suara Timor Loro Sae are sold in a Baucau store. Tais Timor, a monthly publication, produced by the United Nations is also available. La'o Hamutuk publication is also regularly distributed and has an office in the new town close to a newly opened public library.

The library supported by a Swiss association will gradually be transferred to the sole responsibility of the Timorese association. It offers a large choice of books in Bahasa Indonesia, Portuguese, English and Tetum to a public from Pre School to post graduates. The association has a program to develop alphabets in vernacular languages to facilitate the learning of Tetun.

Post. A Post Office operates twice a week a mail service to Dili and overseas. This has greatly restored the communication and development opportunities for the population.

Telecommunications. Telstra provides mobile phone services to an area near the Baucau Airport. Previously mobile phone services also where available in the upper part of Baucau.

The old fixed-line telephone services are still working between Dili and Baucau as most of the old city has not been touched by destruction when TNI pulled out in 1999.