East Timor Old History

By | January 2, 2023

East Timor is an independent nation in Southeastern Asia. With the capital city of Dili, East Timor 2020 population is estimated at 1,318,456 according to countryaah. When the first Portuguese traders arrived in the 16th century, a number of small kingdoms had long existed on the island. Only a hundred years later, life began to be seriously affected by the Portuguese colonization, when a government was built, coffee plantations were built and missionaries began to convert the population to Catholicism. During the Second World War, the colony was occupied by Japan, but returned to Portugal after the Japanese surrender in 1945.

East Timor was populated about 14,000 years ago by hunter and gatherer people who probably migrated from Australia. Today’s Atony people in the central mountain regions are believed to be descendants of these Aborigines. About 9,000 years later, the Austronesian and Papuan peoples immigrated from Asia and Papua New Guinea. They farmed the earth and introduced ceramics, mills, rice cultivation and livestock farming.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of East Timor, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

Several small kingdoms were eventually formed along the coasts with each local leader, called liurai. The rich conducted trade in sandalwood and slaves. The loads went to India, China and the Southeast Asian islands. For East Timor political system, please check carswers.

It was sandalwood that attracted the first Portuguese traders and adventurers to the area in the 16th century. However, the influence of the Portuguese on society became minimal until a hundred years later when Dominican missionaries began to convert the local population to Catholicism. In the 1640s Portugal established a more formal power. The first fort was built and governors were appointed. The population had to pay taxes to Portugal in the form of sandalwood, slaves, gold and horses.

During the 18th century, the Portuguese concentrated more and more of their activities on the eastern part of Timor while the Dutch took over the west. The Portuguese governor moved his seat to Dili. In the mid-19th century, coffee plantations were built and a simple road network was built to transport the harvest. The colonial power strengthened its grip on the area and the system of liurai was abolished.

In 1859, Timor was formally divided into a Portuguese, eastern colony and a Dutch in the west. However, at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War, there were only a few hundred Portuguese in East Timor and European influence was limited. In the 1940s there were no paved roads, electricity or water pipes.

In 1942, East Timor was occupied by Japan. The occupation was a tough time for the East Timorese civilian population. Portugal had declared itself neutral at the outbreak of the war. This led Australia to place a force in the colony as early as 1941, fearing that Portugal would accept a likely Japanese presence there. The Australian soldiers waged guerrilla war against the Japanese until 1943, when the Australians were taken home. When Japan surrendered in 1945, the Portuguese returned.



Rebel leaders are killed

The East Timorese government announces that a high-ranking rebel leader, Mauk Moruk, has been killed in an exchange of gunfire with police and army soldiers. Assessors believe that the death of the rebel leader reduces the risk of new violence caused by rebels.


Australia returns documents

The Australian Government announces that it will return the sensitive documents on the 2006 oil and gas negotiations that East Timor has accused the Australian intelligence service of having stolen from one of East Timor’s lawyers and which Dili turned to the ICJ in The Hague to recover (see May 2013, January 2014 and March 2014).


The Prime Minister resigns

Prime Minister Gusmao submits his resignation to President Ruak, who announces that he accepts Gusmao’s request. Rui Maria de Araújo, a member of Fretilin and former Minister of Health, is elected new Prime Minister on the recommendation of Gusmao. He will be installed as the country’s new head of government on February 16. Rui Araújo forms a smaller government consisting of 37 ministers. Gusmao’s outgoing government had 55 ministers. Gusmao remains in the government as minister responsible for planning and strategic investment.

East Timor Old History