After 450 years of Portuguese colonial rule and a brief civil war, Timor-Leste was annexed by Indonesia in 1975 shortly after declaring independence.
In 1999, following much violence and bloodshed, the country came under interim UN administration (UNTAET and UNMIT). Switzerland provided extensive support to the victims and contributed financially to the UN peacekeeping forces.
Formal diplomatic relations were established in 2002 with the signing of a joint statement by Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss and Timor-Leste's foreign minister at the time, José Ramos-Horta, at the 57th UN General Assembly.
Switzerland participated in the EU election observation mission to Timor-Leste in 2007, sending two observers to the presidential and subsequently also the parliamentary elections. Switzerland again dispatched an observer for the 2012 elections and also acted as an observer to the parliamentary elections in July 2017.