History of East Timor

Written by bungtekno from | Category: East Timor on April 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments | 2,514 views

East Timor is located in the eastern part of Timor, an island in the Indonesian archipelago that lies between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. East Timor includes the enclave of Oecussi, which is located within West Timor (Indonesia). After Indonesia, East Timor’s closest neighbor is Australia, 400 mi to the south. It is semiarid and mountainous.

Evidence that people have been living on the island for well over 4000 years can be seen in the original influences of the distinct dialects of the districts and the presense of cave paintings and stone carvings that are a reminder of the first travellers that arrived on Timor’s shores. The pottery and stone tools of the island of Timor also suggest a history before this.

East Timor was first mentioned in 1260 by a Chinese traveler who noticed that the island was attracting traders interested in the huge forests of sandalwood.

Later in the 16th century, the Portuguese and the Dutch landed and set about creating trading and logging camps along the coast.

The proximity of Timor to major trade routes and its abundance of sandalwood led these two European superpowers to split the island and begin colonizing it. The missionaries soon arrived after the traders, spreading the Catholic faith throughout the island. The colonists were mostly concerned with trading and for the most part concentrated their presence around the coastal areas. As a result even after the first high schools were established in the 18th century in Oecussi and Manatuto, the lifestyle, traditional animist beliefs and heritage of the numerous ethnic groups in Timor Leste were left relatively unchanged well into the 20th century.

The island was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War, when the East Timorese bravely fought alongside a small force of Australian commandos. Thanks to their efforts the Japanese were eventually repulsed and never succeeded in landing on mainland Australia. Following the war, Portuguese rule was restored until 1975, when during the process of decolonization and the creation of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, Indonesian troops invaded and occupied the country.

On the 30th of August 1999, the people of Timor Leste decided on an independent future in a Popular Consultation under the auspices of the UN. As the whole world watched, on May 20, 2002 Timor Leste finally became independent. This event was the culmination of not only two stages of elections but also the majority of the UN withdrawing. Today’s Timor Leste portrays a country beginning its first steps of freedom, peace, safety and true democracy.

Discovering East Timor with Tourism and Travel East Timor’s site.


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