Portuguese Timor

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Portuguese Timor was the name of East Timor when it was under Portuguese control. During this period, Portugal shared the island of Timor with the Netherlands East Indies, and later with Indonesia.

The first Europeans to arrive in the region were Portuguese in 1515.[citation needed] Dominican friars established a presence on the island in 1556, and the territory was declared a Portuguese colony in 1702. Following a Lisbon-instigated decolonisation process in 1974, Indonesia invaded the territory in 1975 ending Portuguese rule. The invasion was never accepted by other countries, that is why Portuguese Timor existed officially until independence of Timor-Leste in 2002.


Early colonialists

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.[1] 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. Portuguese first landed near modern Pante Macassar,[citation needed] and in 1556 a group of Dominican friars established the village of Lifau.

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.[1] 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 communities and 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 for export.[2]

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