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Timor is an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia, north of the Timor Sea. It is divided between the independent state of East Timor, and West Timor, belonging to the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara. The island's surface is 11,883 square miles (30,777 km2). The name is a variant of timur, Malay for "east"; it is so called because it is at the east end of a chain of islands.


Language, ethnic groups, and religion

Similar to nearby islands, most Timorese are Melanesian[1] and anthropologists identify eleven distinct ethno-linguistic groups in Timor. The largest are the Atoni of western Timor, and the Tetum of central and eastern Timor.[2] Most Timor indigenous Timorese languages belong to the Austronesian group of languages spoken through the Indonesian archipelago. The non-Austronesian languages are related to languages spoken in the Halmahera (in Maluku) and Western New Guinea.[3]

The official languages of East Timor are Tetum and Portuguese, while in 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. Roman Catholics are the majority on both halves of the island; Catholics outnumber Protestants in West Timor by about a 3:2 ratio. Muslims and Animists are most of the remainder, at about 5% each.


Timor is located north of Australia, and is one of the easternmost Sunda Islands. Together with Sumba, Babar and associated smaller islands, 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.

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