Timor-Leste forms the eastern half of the island of Timor, an island off the Indonesian archipelago. It also includes a small area in the western half of the island around the town of Oecussi, as well as the small islands of Atauro and Jaco. It covers an area of 14,900 square kilometres, slightly larger than the area of Sydney. Rugged mountains run the length of the island with the highest point being Foho Tatamailau at 2,963 metres. The southern coastal plain consists of swamps and river deltas. The rocky soil and low rainfall make farming difficult, often leading to food and water shortages in the dry season.
Timor-Leste has extreme wet and dry seasons. From May to November, the north coast receives virtually no rain while flooding is common during the wet. It is hot and humid on the coast, while in the mountains, temperatures during the day are hot but nights are cool.
Timor-Leste has a very fragile environment. Regular droughts and heavy seasonal rains have resulted in erosion, soil loss and diminished water quality, which in turn threaten coral reefs and fisheries. Widespread use of slash and burn agriculture has led to deforestation and soil erosion. The sandalwood and teak trees were over-harvested during Portuguese and Indonesian rule. In urban areas, pollution and waste is a problem. Flora includes ironwood, eucalyptus, black eucalyptus, redwood, sandalwood, cendana, and lontarwood. Fauna include deer, monkeys, cockatoos, horses, cows, and beo kakoaks. The black kite, shirt-toed eagle, Japanese sparrow eagle, and red-cheeked parrot are endangered.
Timor-Leste has the fastest growing population in the world. Almost three-quarters of its people live outside the cities, in small villages. Dili, the capital, and Baucau are the two major towns.