Timor Português) was the name of East
Timor when it was under Portuguese control between 1702 to 1975.
During most of this period,
Portugal shared the island of
the Dutch East Indies.
The first Europeans to arrive in the region were the Portuguese in
1515. Dominican friars established a presence on the island in
1556, and the territory was declared a Portuguese colony in 1702.
Following the beginning of a Lisbon-instigated decolonisation process
East Timor was invaded by Indonesia. However, the invasion
and subsequent annexation was not recognized by the United Nations
(UN), and as such Portuguese
Timor existed de jure until a UN
administration took over in 1999.
1.1 Early colonialists
1.2 Establishment of the colonial state
1.3 Twentieth century
1.4 End of Portuguese rule
3 See also
6 External links
See also: Pre-colonial Timor, The Portuguese in Indonesia, and Dutch
East India Company
Prior to the arrival of European colonial powers, the island of Timor
was part of the trading networks that stretched between India and
China and incorporating Maritime Southeast Asia. The island's large
stands of fragrant sandalwood were its main commodity. The first
European powers to arrive in the area were the Portuguese in the early
sixteenth century followed by the Dutch in the late sixteenth century.
Both came in search of the fabled Spice Islands of Maluku. In 1515,
Portuguese first landed near modern Pante Macassar.
Portuguese merchants exported sandalwood from the island, until the
tree nearly became extinct. In 1556 a group of Dominican friars
established the village of Lifau.
In 1613, the Dutch take control of the Western part of the island.
Over the following three centuries, the Dutch would come to dominate
the Indonesian archipelago with the exception of the eastern half of
Timor, which would become Portuguese Timor. The Portuguese
introduced maize as a food crop and coffee as an export crop. Timorese
systems of tax and labour control were preserved, through which taxes
were paid through their labour and a portion of the coffee and
sandalwood crop. The Portuguese introduced mercenaries into Timor
Timor chiefs hired Portuguese soldiers for wars
against neighbouring tribes. With the use of the Portuguese musket,
Timorese men became deer hunters and suppliers of deer horn and hide
The Portuguese introduced Roman Catholicism to East Timor, the Latin
writing system, the printing press, and formal schooling. Two
groups of people were introduced to East Timor: Portuguese men, and
Portuguese language was introduced into church and state
business, and Portuguese Asians used Malay in addition to
Portuguese. Under colonial policy, Portuguese citizenship was
available to men who assimilated Portuguese language, literacy, and
religion; by 1970, 1,200 East Timorese, largely drawn from the
Dili residents, or larger towns, had obtained Portuguese
citizenship. By the end of the colonial administration in 1974, 30
percent of Timorese were practising Roman Catholics while the majority
continued to worship spirits of the land and sky.
Establishment of the colonial state
Portuguese commander with local troops in the 1930s
Lisbon sent its first governor successfully, António Coelho
Guerreiro, to Lifau, which became capital of all Portuguese
dependencies on Lesser Sunda Islands. Former capitals were
Larantuka. Portuguese control over the territory was tenuous
particularly in the mountainous interior. Dominican friars, the
occasional Dutch raid, and the Timorese themselves competed with
Portuguese merchants. The control of colonial administrators was
largely restricted to the
Dili area, and they had to rely on
traditional tribal chieftains for control and influence.
The capital was moved to
Dili in 1769, due to attacks from the
Topasses, who became rulers of several local kingdoms (Liurai). At the
same time, the Dutch were colonising the west of the island and the
surrounding archipelago that is now Indonesia. The border between
Timor and the
Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies was formally decided in
1859 with the Treaty of Lisbon. In 1913, the Portuguese and Dutch
formally agreed to split the island between them. The definitive
border was drawn by the
Permanent Court of Arbitration
Permanent Court of Arbitration in 1916, and it
remains the international boundary between the modern states of East
Timor and Indonesia.
For the Portuguese,
East Timor remained little more than a neglected
trading post until the late nineteenth century. Investment in
infrastructure, health, and education was minimal.
the main export crop with coffee exports becoming significant in the
mid-nineteenth century. In places where Portuguese rule was asserted,
it tended to be brutal and exploitative.
Timor Arms (1935–1975)
Stamp of Portuguese Timor
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a faltering home economy
prompted the Portuguese to extract greater wealth from its colonies,
resulting in increased resistance to Portuguese rule in East Timor. In
1910–12, a Timorese rebellion was quashed after
Portugal brought in
troops from its colonies in Mozambique and Macau, resulting in the
deaths of 3,000 East Timorese.
In the 1930s, the Japanese semi-governmental Nan’yō Kōhatsu
development company, with the secret sponsorship of the Imperial
Japanese Navy, invested heavily in a joint-venture with the primary
plantation company of Portuguese Timor, SAPT. The joint-venture
effectively controlled imports and exports into the island by the
mid-1930s and the extension of Japanese interests greatly concerned
the British, Dutch and Australian authorities.
Portugal was neutral during World War II, in December 1941,
Timor was occupied by a small British, Australian and Dutch
force, to preempt a Japanese invasion. However, the Japanese did
invade in the Battle of
Timor in February 1942. Under Japanese
occupation, the borders of the Dutch and Portuguese were overlooked
Timor island being made a single Japanese army administration
zone. 400 Australian and Dutch commandos trapped on the island by
the Japanese invasion waged a guerrilla campaign, which tied up
Japanese troops and inflicted over 1,000 casualties. Timorese and
the Portuguese helped the guerillas but following the Allies' eventual
evacuation, Japanese retribution from their soldiers and Timorese
militia raised in West
Timor was severe. By the end of the War, an
estimated 40–60,000 Timorese had died, the economy was in ruins, and
famine widespread. (see Battle of Timor).
Following World War II, the Portuguese promptly returned to reclaim
their colony, while West
Timor became part of Indonesia, which secured
its independence in 1949.
To rebuild the economy, colonial administrators forced local chiefs to
supply labourers which further damaged the agricultural sector. The
role of the Catholic Church in
East Timor grew following the
Portuguese government handing over the education of the Timorese to
the Church in 1941. In post-war Portuguese Timor, primary and
secondary school education levels significantly increased, albeit on a
very low base.
Although illiteracy in 1973 was estimated at 93 per cent of the
population, the small educated elite of East Timorese produced by the
Church in the 1960s and 1970s, became the independence leaders during
the Indonesian occupation.
End of Portuguese rule
Indonesian invasion of East Timor
Indonesian invasion of East Timor and Indonesian occupation
of East Timor
Portuguese ceremony in Atabae (1970)
Proposed flag for Portuguese Timor.
Following a 1974 coup (the "Carnation Revolution"), the new Government
Portugal favoured a gradual decolonisation process for Portuguese
territories in Asia and Africa. When East Timorese political parties
were first legalised in April 1974, three major players emerged. The
Timorese Democratic Union
Timorese Democratic Union (UDT), was dedicated to preserving East
Timor as a protectorate of
Portugal and in September announced its
support for independence. Fretilin endorsed "the universal
doctrines of socialism", as well as "the right to independence",
and later declared itself "the only legitimate representative of the
people". A third party,
APODETI emerged advocating East Timor's
integration with Indonesia expressing concerns that an independent
East Timor would be economically weak and vulnerable.
On 14 November 1974,
Mário Lemos Pires - an Army officer - was
appointed by the new Portuguese Government as Governor and
Commander-in-Chief of Portuguese Timor.
Meanwhile, the political dispute between the Timorese parties, soon
gave rise to an armed conflict, that included the participation of
members of the Police and Timorese soldiers of the Portuguese Army.
Without being able to control the conflict with the few Portuguese
troops that he had at his disposal, Lemos Pires decides to leave Dili
with his staff and transfer the seat of the administration to the
Atauro Island (located 25 km off Dili) in late August 1975. At
the same time, he requested
Lisbon to send military reinforcements,
the request being responded with the sending of a warship, the NRP
Afonso Cerqueira, which arrived Timorese waters in the early October.
On 28 November 1975, Fretilin unilaterally declared the territory's
independence, as the Democratic Republic of
East Timor (República
Democrática de Timor-Leste).
In the early December, another Portuguese warship, the NRP João Roby,
On 7 December 1975, the Indonesian Armed Forces launch an invasion of
East Timor. At 03h00, the two Portuguese warships, anchored near
Atauro, detected on the radar a high number of unidentified air and
naval targets approaching. They soon identified the targets as
Indonesian military aircraft and warships, which initiated an assault
against Dili. Lemos Pires and his staff then left Atauro, embarked on
the Portuguese warships and headed to Darwin, Australia.
The two Portuguese warships were ordered to continue patrolling the
waters around Timor, in preparation of possible military action to
respond the Indonesian invasion, constituting the naval task force UO
20.1.2 (latter renamed FORNAVTIMOR).
Portugal sent a third warship to
the region, the NRP Oliveira e Carmo, which arrived on 31 January 1976
and replaced the NRP Afonso Cerqueira. The Portuguese warships would
continue in the region until May 1976, when the remaining NRP Oliveira
e Carmo left back to Lisbon, at a time when a military action to expel
the Indonesian forces was clearly seen as unviable.
On 17 July 1976,
Indonesia formally annexed East Timor, declaring it
as its 27th province and renaming it
Timor Timur. The United Nations,
however, did not recognise the annexation, continuing to consider
Portugal as the legitimate administering power of East Timor.
Following the end of Indonesian occupation in 1999, and a United
Nations administered transition period,
East Timor became formally
independent in 2002.
Timor 20 Escudos 1967
The first Timorese currency was the Portuguese Timorese pataca,
introduced in 1894.
From 1959, the
Portuguese Timorese escudo
Portuguese Timorese escudo - linked to the Portuguese
escudo - was used.
In 1975, the currency ceased to exist as
East Timor was annexed by
Indonesia and began using the Indonesian rupiah.
History of East Timor
List of colonial governors of Portuguese Timor
Dunn, James (1996). Timor: A People Betrayed. Sydney: Australian
Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 0-7333-0537-7.
Goto, Kenichi. "Japan and Portuguese
Timor in the 1930s and early
Indonesia. Department of Foreign Affairs. Decolonization in East
Timor. Jakarta: Department of Information, Republic of Indonesia,
1977. OCLC 4458152.
Schwarz, A. (1994). A Nation in Waiting:
Indonesia in the 1990s.
Westview Press. ISBN 1-86373-635-2.
Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia: Peoples and Histories. New
Haven and London: Yale University Press.
West, Barbara A. (2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and
Oceania. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 0-8160-7109-8.
^ a b Flags of the World
^ a b c West, p. 198.
^ a b c d Schwartz (1994), p. 198
^ a b c d e f Taylor (2003), p. 379.
^ History of Timor
^ a b c d e f Schwartz (1994), p. 199.
^ Post, The Encyclopedia of
Indonesia in the
Pacific War , pages
^ Dunn (1996), p. 53–54.
^ Quoted in Dunn, p. 56.
^ Quoted in Dunn, p. 60.
^ Dunn, p. 62;
Indonesia (1977), p. 19.
^ Dunn, p. 62.
Timor – Technical University of Lisbon
Lords of the Land, Lords of the Sea; Conflict and Adaptation in Early
Colonial Timor, 1600–1800 – KITLV Press 2012. Open Access
Portuguese overseas empire
Alcácer Ceguer (El Qsar es Seghir)
Mazagan (El Jadida)
Santa Cruz do Cabo de Gué (Agadir)
Aguz (Souira Guedima)
Mazagan (El Jadida)
São João da Mamora (Mehdya)
Fernando Poo (Bioko)
Elmina (São Jorge da Mina)
Portuguese Gold Coast
São João Baptista de Ajudá
Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe
1 Part of São Tomé and
Príncipe from 1753.
2 Or 1600.
3 A factory (Anosy Region) and small temporary coastal bases.
4 Part of
Portuguese Guinea from 1879.
5 Part of
Portuguese Angola from the 1920s.
Middle East [Persian Gulf]
Gamru (Bandar Abbas)
Julfar (Ras al-Khaimah)
Bahrain (Muharraq • Manama)
(Coulão / Kollam)
Pallipuram (Cochin de Cima)
Portuguese Paliacate outpost (Pulicat)
(Porto Grande De Bengala)
Daman and Diu
Portuguese Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Dadra and Nagar Haveli
East Asia and Oceania
Portuguese Malacca [Malaysia]
Timor (East Timor)1
Lapa and Montanha (Hengqin)
1 1975 is the year of East Timor's Declaration of Independence and
subsequent invasion by Indonesia. In 2002, East Timor's independence
was fully recognized.
North America & North Atlantic
15th century [Atlantic islands]
16th century [Canada]
Terra Nova (Newfoundland)
South America & Antilles
Captaincy Colonies of Brazil
Rio de Janeiro
Nova Colónia do Sacramento
Grão-Pará and Maranhão
Grão-Pará and Rio Negro
Maranhão and Piauí
Portuguese Guiana (Amapá)
Upper Peru (Bolivia)
Coats of arms of Portuguese colonies
Evolution of the Portuguese Empire
Portuguese colonial architecture
Portuguese colonialism in Indonesia
Portuguese colonization of the Americas
Theory of the Portuguese discovery of Australia
States and territories in the sphere of influence of the Empire of
Japan during World War II
State of Burma
Kingdom of Cambodia (1945)
Provisional Government of China
Reformed Government of China
Occupied Hong Kong
Shanghai Great Way Government
East Hebei Autonomous Council
Provisional Government of Free India
Korea under Japanese rule
South Pacific Mandate
Kingdom of Laos (1945)
Second Philippine Republic
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Occupied Dutch East Indies
Occupied Sarawak, Brunei, Labuan and British North Borneo
Greater East Asia Conference
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Coordinates: 8°33′00″S 125°35′00″E / 8.5500°S