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Udoy Saikia

Timor-Leste, the newest nation in Asia, stands out demographically specially in the context of fertility rate. The fertility rate was exceptionally high during the time of independence, which resulted in unprecedented population growth in Timor-Leste. Although there have been signs of fertility decline in recent years, amidst the worrying socio-economic conditions in this new nation, it is of great concern that if the current fertility rate and its implied population growth continues, it will create enormous challenges to the country’s nation building process. This chapter offers an insight into the historical and current context of high fertility in Timor-Leste. The analysis is largely based on secondary data from two consecutive Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in Timor-Leste during the period between 2003 and 2010. The chapter also draws on the broader literature and qualitative research already carried out by the author into the reasons behind high fertility in Timor-Leste.