The Lusosphere: East Timor


Timor derives from the Indonesian word Timur, meaning "east".

Before the Portuguese arrived in Timor, there was already in the island a small population of hunters and farmers. There is documentation proving that this island maintained commercial ties with China (around the VII century) selling slaves, bee wax, sandalwood and noble wood (used to manufacture luxury furniture).

1512: the Portuguese arrived in East Timor
For 4 centuries the Lusitanians only used the territory for commercial purposes (thus, exploiting the island's natural resources: sandalwood & coffee). Unlike they had done in the other colonies, the Portuguese never developed this island (for instance: only during the XX century, after the 60's, there was electricity, potable water, sewage systems, schools and hospitals in Díli [the capital of East Timor], all the rest of the nation remained undeveloped).

August 1975 (a year after the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of 1974): the Portuguese government decides to leave the island; passing on the power to the FRETILIN (Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste [East Timor Revolutionary Front]).

28th of November 1975: FRETILIN (supported by the People's Republic of China) declares independence.
But this independence did not last, since the Indonesian troops invaded the island (by orders of General Suharto, on the 7th of December, who was supported by the USA and Australia for fear of a communist domino effect), despite the repudiation expressed by the United Nations, making of it thus the 27th Indonesian province (called Timor Timur).
The Indonesians applied a genocide policy, which resulted in the massacre of the Timorese (for more details read here).

The leader of FRETILIN (Xanana Gusmão) was imprisoned; and when Nelson Mandela visited him (in July of 1997) the people were more encouraged to seek independence from Indonesia. The fight for liberation was extremely violent; which led the governments of Portugal and Indonesia (in 1999) to negotiate a referendum (on the independence of the territory) - on the 30th of August 1999, 78,5% of the electorate voted for the independence of Timor.
Meanwhile, Indonesia began a program of social development in order to improve its image near the Timorese people.

After the referendum, the militias (that were allowed to defend the interests of the Indonesian country, by decree) went to the streets to kill everybody suspected of having voted for the independence. Thousands of people ran to hide in the mountains, families were separated, foreigners were evacuated leaving, thus, Timor in the midst of violence between the military and the Indonesian militias.
Portugal (in the person of Durão Barroso, the present President of the European Commission) engaged on a serious diplomatic battle in order to ensure the independence of this nation, since Portugal felt responsible for the current state of affairs. The Portuguese, in national territory (from North to South), placed white sheets by the windows as a token of solidarity towards the Timorese people; and funds were raised to help the displaced families and refugies. During this time Portugal welcomed thousands of refugees from Timor.

20th of May 2002: Timor finally became independent and Xanana Gusmão (presently Timor's Prime Minister) was elected its President.


Language
The official languages are the Tétum and the Portuguese (although for business Indonesian and English are the elected languages); however there are 15 other national languages: ataurense, baiqueno, becais, búnaque, cauamina, fataluco, galóli, habo, idalaca, lovaia, macalero, macassai, mambai quémaque and tocodede.

Culture
The culture reflects the influence of several other cultures: the Roman Catholic tradition; Portugal and Malaysia.
The majority of the population is Roman Catholic.
The national Anthem is "Pátria" (Nation) and is sung in Portuguese only.


(Traditional house in Díli)


Architecture
There are some Portuguese-style buildings, along with the traditional lulik (sacred houses in tetum) and the lee teinu (houses with legs) in the region of Fataluku.

Video
Let's finish this article with some images from this beautiful island. Enjoy!



Next Stop: Macau

Comments

  1. I'm sorry to hear about riots and massacre. Actually we didn't hear too much info (we = us who live in West Java) about the massacre of the Timorese. :-((((

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Amel :D!

    "I'm sorry to hear about riots and massacre. Actually we didn't hear too much info (we = us who live in West Java) about the massacre of the Timorese. :-(((( "

    Don't be sorry, girl! It happened, it is over and it is time to heal ;).
    You didn't? I guess the government didn't want you guys to know it (to avoid demonstrations and riots perhaps).

    Amel, thanks a million for your input (I hope all is well with you, gorgeous) :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ciao Max,

    I hope that the East Timor government will fully serve its people by using the oil, coffee and tourism revenue to develop the country.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Max,

    East Timor is a very beautiful country and its people is a very warm one!

    Best of luck to President Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, because it isn't easy tp bring everyone together and to keep them really interested in re-building the nation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey Max! Yeah, I've been fading away, but I'm coming back, and I'm updating asap! I really like this post...a great reference about E. Timor, which I didn't know much about before! :D And at least Portugal helped out with independence...

    Can't wait for Macau! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ah yes…life in East Lemur has not been easy…although we sat around in our sandalwoods drinking Starbucks for years many other luxuries did not rain down upon us till more recent times…

    The Portuguese tried to convince us to eat their various fish but never brought us any interesting fruit…

    My fist tree was in the capital of Dillpickle but when it turned to the XX century I left waiting for the XXX century…it left my home rather undeveloped…

    China offered some new food but then threatened to eat us East Lemurs…Then it got nasty as the Indonesians tried every nasty rule in the book...They tried to elemurate us…

    It was nice of Portugal to invite us Lemurs to move there but…well Madagascar was so nice…

    In the language section I note you missed redruffedlemurus…

    Ahhh if only the Protestants had got to us first….

    You can see my old tree near the photo of the traditional house!

    Ahhh the East Lemur video was nice…

    How long is it going to take to finish posting about every land the Portuguese invaded?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I remember hearing the news of the slaughter that occurred there. Quite a sad event.

    The smiling children was a nice picture. It reminded me of visiting Indonesia and seeing many smiles on the faces of the children there too. Some cultural things seem to cross borders better than others.

    ReplyDelete
  8. East Timor is our neighbor but I know so little about it. I'm sorry to hear about the riots and massacre.

    Thanks sweetie! It's another strong typhoon, hopefully it won't do much damage like the first two.

    I hope all is well with you. Have a fun and safe weekend. :)

    *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Max! Here are some more facts for you about East Timor!

    Australia has been working with and supporting the East Timorese since the mid '80's. Assistance has come by way of financial support and additional security measures to stablise the country, especially during the 2006 East Timorese crisis.

    You may have also heard of the Balibo Five, were a group of journalists for Australian televsion networks in 1975, including two Australians, were killed by the Indonesian special force soldiers.

    Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta, East Timor's most favoured son, was also flown to the Royal Darwin Hospital, Australia after being shot in an assassination attempt in Feb, 2008.

    Yes, just another Portuguese link to Australia.

    Take Care,
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  10. I didn't even truly realize that Timor was part of the lusosphere. Man, you guys were everywhere, like the English!

    Are you going to include Taiwan too? I believe it was briefly under Portuguese rule... unless it was the Spanish. I'm dumb tonight. :-D

    Anyway, unfortunately, the only times I heard about East Timor was for the massacre and the crazy weapon trades. Kind of sad, really.

    ReplyDelete
  11. lovely reading about this place in details about its history and culture...had heard about this place earlier, but now learnt a little bit more...nice one!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Dux :D!

    I totally hear you, man!

    Thanks for your input :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  13. Circulus Ciceronis, hello :D!

    Indeed, indeed...

    Thanks for your input :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hey Manimala :D!

    "Yeah, I've been fading away, but I'm coming back, and I'm updating asap! I really like this post...a great reference about E. Timor, which I didn't know much about before! :D And at least Portugal helped out with independence..."

    Great! True....

    "Can't wait for Macau! :)"

    It's coming soon....

    Manimala, thank you so much for your support and input :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi LSus :D!

    ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL oh man...you kill me!

    "How long is it going to take to finish posting about every land the Portuguese invaded?"

    "How long? Not Long..."

    LSus, thanks for having made me laugh...

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Looney :D!

    "The smiling children was a nice picture. It reminded me of visiting Indonesia and seeing many smiles on the faces of the children there too. Some cultural things seem to cross borders better than others."

    So true, Looney, so true...

    Thanks for having dropped by and left a word :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Liza :D!

    "East Timor is our neighbor but I know so little about it. I'm sorry to hear about the riots and massacre."

    It's history...

    "Thanks sweetie! It's another strong typhoon, hopefully it won't do much damage like the first two."

    I prayed for you guys...

    "I hope all is well with you."

    Thanks, darling...all I can say for now is: I am well...

    *Hugs*

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Peter :D!

    "Here are some more facts for you about East Timor!"

    Shoot!

    "Australia has been working with and supporting the East Timorese since the mid '80's. Assistance has come by way of financial support and additional security measures to stablise the country, especially during the 2006 East Timorese crisis."

    I didn't know that Australia had been supporting Timor since the mid 80's; however I did know about the Australian military and financial aid from 1999 onwards...

    "You may have also heard of the Balibo Five, were a group of journalists for Australian televsion networks in 1975, including two Australians, were killed by the Indonesian special force soldiers."

    Yes, I have...*nodding*.

    "Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta, East Timor's most favoured son, was also flown to the Royal Darwin Hospital, Australia after being shot in an assassination attempt in Feb, 2008."

    Yes, indeed. You remembered it! I remember the tension: my God, even us, in Portugal, were tense and praying for his life *nodding*.

    "Yes, just another Portuguese link to Australia."

    :D oh boy...we are nearly cousins!

    Peter, thank you so much: I have learned new things (which I love) :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Zhu :D!

    "I didn't even truly realize that Timor was part of the lusosphere. Man, you guys were everywhere, like the English!"

    Yes, it is :). LOL girl, we are still everywhere - there is not a single place in this world where you don't find a Portuguese citizen...we are like the Cape Verdeans lol...

    "Are you going to include Taiwan too? I believe it was briefly under Portuguese rule... unless it was the Spanish. I'm dumb tonight. :-D"

    No, I am not going to include Taiwan (Ilha Formosa) because they do not speak Portuguese, nor this language is part of the official ones. This series is about countries whose official language is the Portuguese. You are correct: it was under Portuguese rule (you are not dumb) :D!

    "Anyway, unfortunately, the only times I heard about East Timor was for the massacre and the crazy weapon trades. Kind of sad, really."

    I hear you!

    Zhu, thank you so much for your contribution :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  20. Everything looks good in your posting.
    That will be necessary for all. Thanks for your posting.
    Bathmate

    ReplyDelete

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