Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia,
north of the
Timor Sea. The island is divided between the sovereign
East Timor on the eastern part and
Indonesia on the western
part. The Indonesian part, also known as West Timor, constitutes part
of the province of East Nusa Tenggara. Within
West Timor lies an
East Timor called Oecusse District. The island covers an
area of 30,777 square kilometres (11,883 square miles). The name is a
variant of timur, Malay for "east"; it is so called because it lies at
the eastern end of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Mainland
less than 500 km away.
1 Language, ethnic groups and religion
3 Flora and fauna
5 See also
7 External links
Language, ethnic groups and religion
See also: Languages of
East Timor and Tetum
Language map of Timor
Anthropologists identify eleven distinct ethno-linguistic groups in
Timor. The largest are the
Atoni of western Timor, and the
central and eastern Timor. Most indigenous Timorese languages
belong to the Timor–Babar branch of the Austronesian languages
spoken throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Although lexical
evidence is lacking,  the non-
Austronesian languages of
thought to be related to languages spoken on
Halmahera and in Western
New Guinea. Some are so mixed it is difficult to tell which family
they descend from.
The official languages of
East Timor are
Tetum and Portuguese, while
West Timor it is Indonesian. Indonesian is also widely spoken and
understood in East Timor.
Christianity is the dominant religion throughout the island of Timor,
at about 90% of the population, but unequally distributed as West
Timor is 58% Protestant and 37% Catholic, and
East Timor is 98%
Catholic and 1% Protestant.
Islam and animism make up most of the
remainder at about 5% each across the island.
See also: Geography of
East Timor and Geography of West Timor
Island as seen from space in November 1989.
Timor is located north of Australia, and is one of the easternmost
Sunda Islands. Together with Sumba, Babar and associated smaller
Timor forms the southern outer archipelago of the Lesser
Sunda Islands with the inner islands of Flores, Alor and
Wetar to the
north, and beyond them Sulawesi.
Timor is the principal island of the Outer Banda Arc, which has been
upthrust by collision with the Australian continent.
Timor has older
geology and lacks the volcanic nature of the northern Lesser Sunda
Islands. The orientation of the main axis of the island also differs
from its neighbors. These features have been explained as the result
of being on the northern edge of the
Indo-Australian Plate as it meets
Eurasian Plate and pushes into South East Asia. The climate
includes a long dry season with hot winds blowing over from Australia.
Rivers on the island include the Southern and Northern Laclo Rivers in
The largest towns on the island are the provincial capital of Kupang
in West Timor,
Indonesia and the Portuguese colonial towns of
Baucau in East Timor. Poor roads make transport to inland
areas difficult, in
East Timor especially.
East Timor is a poor
country, with health issues including malaria and dengue fever.
Sources of revenue include gas and oil in the
Timor Sea, coffee
growing and tourism.
Flora and fauna
Timor and its offshore islands such as Atauro, a former place of exile
increasingly known for its beaches and coral, as well
as Jaco along with
Wetar and the other
Barat Daya Islands
Barat Daya Islands to the
northeast constitute the
Wetar deciduous forests ecoregion.
The natural vegetation was tropical dry broadleaf forests with an
undergrowth of shrubs and grasses supporting a rich wildlife[citation
needed]. However much of the original forest has been cleared for
farming, especially on the coasts of
Timor and on the
smaller islands like Atauro. Apart from one large block in the centre
Timor only patches remain. This ecoregion is part
Wallacea area with a mixture of plants and animals of Asian and
Australasian origin; it lies in the western part of Wallacea, in which
Asian species predominate.
Many trees are deciduous or partly deciduous, dropping their leaves
during the dry season, there are also evergreen and thorn trees in the
woodland. Typical trees of the lowland slopes include Sterculia
Calophyllum teysmannii and Aleurites moluccanus.
Timor was the abode of extinct giant
monitor lizards similar to the Komodo dragon. Like Flores,
Timor was also once a habitat of extinct dwarf stegodonts,
relatives of elephants.
Fauna of today includes a number of endemic species such as the
Timor shrew and
Timor rat. The northern common cuscus, a
marsupial of Australasian origin occurs as well, but is thought to be
introduced. The island have a great number of birds, mainly of
Asian origin with some of Australasian origin. There is a total of 250
species of which twenty four are endemic, due to the relative
isolation of Timor, including five threatened species; the slaty
Wetar ground dove,
Timor green pigeon,
pigeon, and iris lorikeet.
Saltwater crocodiles are found in the wetlands whereas reticulated
pythons can be found in forests and grasslands of Timor. However, the
population sizes and status are unknown.
Frog species in
Timor include Duttaphrynus melanostictus,
Hoplobatrachus tigerinus, Limnonectes timorensis, Litoria everetti,
and Polypedates leucomystax. A new species of microlyhid frog
belonging to the genus
Kaloula has also recently been discovered in
Late Cretaceous fossils of marine vertebrates are known from East
Timor deposits. These include mosasaurs such as
lamniforme sharks, coelacanths and the choristodere Champsosaurus.
See also: History of
East Timor and History of Indonesia
Portrait of a Timorese warrior at the area of
Kupang in 1875 from
report of expedition of German SMS Gazelle.
Boats along the
The earliest historical record about
Timor island is 14th century
Nagarakretagama, Canto 14, that identify Timur as an island within
Timor was incorporated into ancient Javanese,
Chinese and Indian trading networks of the 14th century as an exporter
of aromatic sandalwood, slaves, honey and wax, and was settled by both
the Portuguese, in the end of the 16th century, and the Dutch, based
in Kupang, in the mid-17th century.
As the nearest island with a European settlement at the time, Timor
was the destination of
William Bligh and seamen loyal to him following
the infamous mutiny on the Bounty in 1789. It was also where survivors
of the wrecked HMS Pandora, sent to arrest the Bounty mutineers,
landed in 1791 after that ship sank in the Great Barrier Reef.
The island has been politically divided in two parts for centuries.
The Dutch and Portuguese fought for control of the island until it was
divided by treaty in 1859, but they still did not formally resolve the
matter of the boundary until 1912. West Timor, was known as Dutch
Timor until 1949 when it became Indonesian Timor, a part of the nation
Indonesia which was formed from the old
Netherlands East Indies;
East Timor was known as Portuguese Timor, a Portuguese colony
until 1975. It includes the exclave of
Oecussi-Ambeno in West Timor.
Japanese forces occupied the whole island from 1942 to 1945. They were
resisted in a guerrilla campaign led initially by Australian
Following the military coup in
Portugal in 1974 the Portuguese began
to withdraw from Timor, the subsequent internal unrest and fear of the
Fretilin party encouraged an invasion by Indonesia, who
opposed the concept of an independent East Timor. In 1975, East Timor
was annexed by
Indonesia and became known as
Timor Timur or 'Tim-Tim'
for short. It was regarded by
Indonesia as the country's 27th
province, but this was never recognised by the
United Nations (UN) or
The people of East Timor, through
Falintil the military wing of
Fretilin, resisted 35,000 Indonesian troops in a prolonged guerrilla
campaign, but the whole island remained under Indonesian control until
a referendum held in 1999 under a UN-sponsored agreement between
Portugal in which its people rejected the offer of
autonomy within Indonesia. The UN then temporarily governed East Timor
until it became independent as Timor-Leste in 2002 under the
Falintil leader Xanana Gusmão. Although political
strife continued as the new nation coped with poverty the UN presence
was much reduced.
A group of people on the Indonesian side of
Timor have been reported
active since 2001 trying to establish a
Great Timor State.
However, there is no real evidence whatsoever that the people of West
Timor, most of whom are from
Atoni ethnicity who are the traditional
enemy of the East Timorese, have any interest in joining their tribal
enemies. Additionally, East Timor's independence movement never laid
West Timor at any time, before the Indonesian invasion or
thereafter. Similarly, the government of
East Timor fully recognizes
Indonesia's existing boundaries as inherited from the
Indies. This is similar to the position taken by
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea in
relation to Western New Guinea, when the former became independent of
Battle of Timor
Indonesian occupation of East Timor
List of divided islands
List of rulers of Timor
^ a b Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia: Peoples and Histories.
New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 378.
^ Gary Holton; Laura C. Robinson (2014). "The linguistic position of
the Timor-Alor-Pantar languages". In Klamer, Marian. The Alor-Pantar
^ Audley-Charles, M.G. (1987) "Dispersal of Gondwanaland: relevance to
evolution of the Angiosperms" In: Whitmore, T.C. (ed.) (1987)
Biogeographical Evolution of the Malay
Archipelago Oxford Monographs
on Biogeography 4, Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp. 5–25,
^ . 15: 502–513. doi:10.2307/4029980 (inactive 2017-01-15).
JSTOR 4029980. Missing or empty title= (help)
^ IUCN Red List: Northern Common Cuscus accessed 17 June 2010
Wetar deciduous forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World
^ Kaiser H, Ceballos J, Freed P, Heacox S, Lester B, Richards S,
Trainor C, Sanchez C, O’Shea M (2011) The herpetofauna of
Timor-Leste: a first report. ZooKeys 109: 19-86.
^ O'Shea, Marc and Sanchez, Caitlin. 2015. Herpetological Diversity of
Timor-Leste: Updates and a Review of Species Distributions. Asian
Herpetological Research, 6(2): 73-131.
^ J. H. F. Umbgrove, Structural History Of The East Indies
The dictionary definition of timor at Wiktionary
Timor travel guide from Wikivoyage
Media related to
Timor at Wikimedia Commons