East Timor

The history and etymology of Timor

Another name for Timor is Timor Leste. The official name for this country is Democratic Republic of Timor Leste. This country is located in Southeast Asia. It contains within it the eastern half of the island of Timor. Along with this, the islands of Atauro, Jaco, Oecussi Ambeno and others are also a part of this nation. This small nation of Timor is located northwest of Darwin in Australia.

The colonization history of Timor dates back to the 16th century. It was colonized by the Portuguese and was then known as Portuguese Timor. This name continued to be in use till the Portuguese decolonized Timor. Timor declared its independence in the year 1975. But it was later again occupied by Indonesia and declared to be Indonesia’s 27th province. Again, due to an act passed by the United Nations in 1999, Timor became a liberated state in 2002. Timor is the only other Roman Catholic country in Asia after Philippines.

The economy of Timor happens to be a lower middle income one. It still suffers from infrastructural damages that it faced due to its colonization by countries like Indonesia and Portugal. It is among the lowest states in Asia in terms of the human development index.

Let us now look into the etymology of Timor. The word Timor is derived from the word timur which means east in malay and Indonesian. The government of Timor has raised a proposal post independence. They wanted Timor leste to be the official name of Timor in all languages. However, this hasn’t been possible due to language problems and the common name continues to be Timor all across the world. The Indonesian name Timor timur is sometimes abbreviated as timtim. However, the government and the media continues to use Timor leste.

A few other important facts that one should know about Timor are its history and ancient culture. The island of Timor had immigrants coming in as a part of the migration that shaped up Australia’s population. There are three different waves of descendants still residing in the island of Timor. Out of these, the first were related to the indigenous group of New Guinea and Australia. These people arrived in the country 40,000 years ago. Austronesians migrated to Timor long time back in around 3000 BC and started the first agricultural activities there. Then there were pro Malays who came in from china. This is one of the reasons why there is so much linguistic diversity in the small island of Timor today.

Timor was later incorporated into the Chinese and Indian trading networks. They were the early exporters of sandalwood, slaves, honey and wax. This is roundabout the 14th century BC. A very significant part of Timor that comes into context is the Wehali kingdom of central Timor. Ts capital was Laran.

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