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(tē`môr) [Malay,=east], island (1990 est. pop. 3,900,000), c.13,200 sq mi/34,200 sq km, largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sundas, in the Malay Archipelago. Timor is divided politically between Indonesia and East Timor (Timor-Leste). The island is long, narrow, and almost wholly mountainous. Rice, coconuts, and coffee are grown, and stretches of grassland support cattle. There are oil and gas fields off East Timor's southern coast. The inhabitants are of predominantly Malay and Papuan descent.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish themselves in Timor; their claim to the island was disputed by the Dutch, who arrived in 1613. By a treaty of 1859, modified in 1893 and finally made effective in 1914, the border between the Dutch and Portuguese territories was settled. In World War II, Timor was occupied (early 1942) by the Japanese. With the creation of the Republic of Indonesia in 1950, Dutch Timor became Indonesian territory and is now part of Nusa Tenggara Timur province.

In 1975, Portuguese Timor declared itself independent as East TimorEast Timor
or Timor-Leste
, Tetum Timor Lorosae, republic, officially Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (2015 est. pop. 1,241,000), 5,950 sq mi (15,410 sq km), in the Lesser Sundas, Malay Archipelago, off the SE Asia mainland.
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. Indonesia invaded, however, and annexed the region. Sporadic guerrilla warfare continued into 1999, when Indonesia agreed to permit a referendum in which voters chose independence. Pro-Indonesian militias and the army subsequently engaged in a campaign of terror and brutality, but under international pressure Indonesia asked for UN peacekeepers, and, following a period of transitional UN administration, East Timor became independent in 2002.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an island in the Malay Archipelago. Approximately 34,000 sq km in area, Timor is the largest of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It has a mostly mountainous terrain, with elevations to 2,950 m; there are also a few mud geysers. The island has a monsoonal subequatorial climate; coastal temperatures range between 25°C and 27°C year round. Annual precipitation is approximately 1,500 mm, with the dry season occurring from May to November. The vegetation is dominated by tall-grass savannas; certain parts of the island are also covered by rain forests. There are coffee and coconut plantations; rice and maize are also cultivated. The principal cities are Kupang and Dili.

The majority of Timor’s inhabitants speak Indonesian languages, including the Atoni, Tetumy, Mambai, and Tukudede; some of the aborigines—for example, the Mare (or Bunaki), Makasai, and Dagoda—speak languages that are closely related to the Papuan languages. The population includes a small number of Portuguese and Chinese. The aborigines are divided into those who profess Roman Catholicism and those who adhere to traditional local cults and beliefs.

Timor, according to the earliest historical information, was inhabited in the 14th century by tribes that had become vassals of the Javanese state of Majapahit. As the primitive communal system began to disintegrate, however, some tribes formed themselves into states, the largest of which was Surviang, in the western part of the island. In the 16th century, Timor fell into the path of Portuguese colonial expansion; it was seized in 1511 by a military expedition sent by A. de Albuquerque. The Dutch arrived on Timor in 1613.

By the end of the 18th century, the island had been effectively divided between the two colonial powers: the southwestern part went to the Dutch, and the northeastern part, together with a narrow strip of land on the western part of the island, went to the Portuguese. Nevertheless, Timor’s indigenous population stubbornly resisted the colonizers and at various times erupted into open rebellion, notably, in 1719, 1726, 1769, and 1912. In 1896 a part of the Portuguese half of the island administered from Macao was declared an independent administrative unit, Timor. As a consequence of colonial acts of genocide and clashes between the Dutch and Portuguese, the population of the island was reduced and its economic and cultural development arrested for many years. During World War II, Timor was occupied by the Japanese.

With the founding of the Republic of Indonesia in 1945, the former Dutch Timor was made a part of Indonesia. After the overthrow of the fascist regime in Portugal, on Apr. 25, 1974, and during negotiations over the future of the eastern part of Timor, the antagonism between the political parties that had been formed in the Portuguese part of the island became pronounced. The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin), which had been organized as an underground movement in 1970, openly advocated declaring eastern Timor a sovereign state. The Democratic People’s Union (Apodeti), on the other hand, which had been founded in May 1974 and which was supported by several small political groups, began campaigning for union with Indonesia. On Dec. 7, 1975, supporters of the pro-Indonesian party, assisted by Indonesian troops, seized Dili. In December 1975 the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council urged Indonesia to withdraw its troops immediately from eastern Timor. Indonesia, however, kept its forces in the occupied territory, contending they were volunteers.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


an island in the Malay Archipelago, the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands: the west was a Dutch possession (part of the Dutch East Indies) until 1949, when it became part of Indonesia: the east was held by Portugal until 1975, when it declared independence but was immediately invaded by Indonesia; East Timor finally became an independent state in 2002. Area: 30 775 sq. km (11 883 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The dispute over the Greater Sunrise gas fields, located between East Timor and Australia, has burdened bilateral ties between the two countries for many years.
(19) UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized the responsibilities of the international community in investigating and punishing those responsible for rights violations and to "help safeguard the rights of the people of East Timor, promote reconciliation, [and] ensure future social and political stability".
East Timor's history, like many small poor countries, is one of colonization and conflict.
''East Timor agrees and recognizes that there are plenty more preparations to be had before it can fully join ASEAN,'' he said.
On 7 December, nine days after the Democratic Republic of East Timor was declared an independent nation, it was invaded and occupied by Indonesia in an act that was widely condemned for its brutality.
A statement by East Timor's two Catholic bishops; Alberto da Silva of Dili and Basilio do Nascimento of Baucau, said the people could not "condone impunity for crimes against humanity."
However, according to the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), the treaty "may be the best that could be achieved at this time, given the pressures on Timor-Leste from Australia and oil companies and the tremendous economic, political, size and other disparities in an inherently unequal negotiation process."
East Timor, whose annual budget is less than $71 million, thinks that the wealth and royalties lying at the bottom of the sea could total $20 billion in the next thirty years.
During the 1975-99 Indonesian occupation of East Timor, Indonesia accepted Australia's argument that the Timor Trough should separate Australia from Timor Island.
The Timor Sea dispute is driven by conflicting claims around where a maritime boundary should be placed between Australia and East Timor.
The people of East Timor, whose capital and largest city is Dili, had waited more than 400 years for independence.