Newest stamp issuer

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The world’s newest stamp issuer is the state of East Timor which gained independence in 2002 and issued a set of four stamps on May 20, 2002. Design and printing of the stamps – a process worth around $150,000 AUS – was done free by Australia Post, and all proceeds have gone to the country’s new government.

East Timor had been under the rule of a United Nations transitional authority and the new set of stamps came 29 years after the last set of East Timor stamps, which were issued under the Portuguese administration.

The island was annexed by Indonesia in 1975 and this sparked a long period of warfare which claimed thousands of lives and has only recently been settled.

The new set of four stamps feature the country’s name, written as ‘Timor-Leste’, and bear the inscription ‘Independencia 2002’. In 25c, 50c, $1 and $2 values the designs are based around the tais (a traditional East Timorese woven cloth).

Each stamp in the set also features tiny Portuguese text which tells the legend of the crocodile – this tells of a crocodile which is grateful for a boy’s kindness, and changes itself into the island of Timor to give the boy, and his descendants, a safe place to live.