Infobox Islands
name = Timor

image caption = Political Division of Timor
native name =
native name link =
Location map|Indonesia|lat=-9.233333|long=124.933333
map_custom = yes
location = South East Asia
coordinates= coord|9|14|S|124|56|E|type:isle
archipelago = Lesser Sunda Islands
total islands =
major islands =
area = convert|11883|sqmi|km2|abbr=on
rank = 44th
highest mount = Ramelau
elevation = convert|9720|ft|m|abbr=on
country = East Timor
country admin divisions title =
country admin divisions =
country largest city =
country largest city population =
country 1 = Indonesia
country 1 admin divisions title = Province
country 1 admin divisions = East Nusa Tenggara
country 1 largest city =
country 1 largest city population =
population = 2,900,000
population as of = 2005
density = convert|244.2|/sqmi|/km2|1|abbr=on
ethnic groups =
Timor is an island at the south end of the Malay Archipelago, 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 [cite book |last=Schwarz |first=A. |year=1994 |title=A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s |pages=page 198|publisher=Westview Press |isbn=1-86373-635-2] 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. [cite book |last=Taylor |first=Jean Gelman |title=Indonesia: Peoples and Histories |pages=page 378|publisher=Yale University Press |year=2003 |location= New Haven and London |isbn=0-300-10518-5] 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. [cite book |last=Taylor |first=Jean Gelman |title=Indonesia: Peoples and Histories |pages=page 378|publisher=Yale University Press |year=2003 |location= New Haven and London |isbn=0-300-10518-5]

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 the majority on both halves of the island; Catholics outnumber Protestants in West Timor by about a 1.5:1 ratio. Muslims and animists are most of the remainder, at about 5% each.


To the south and southeast of Timor is Oceania. To its northwest is the island of Sulawesi, and to its west, the island of Sumba. To the west-northwest of Timor are the islands of Flores and Alor, and to its northeast are the Barat Daya Islands, including Wetar.

Timor has older geology and lacks the volcanic nature of the Lesser Sunda Islands. The orientation of the main axis of the island also differs from its neighbors. These features have been explained as the result of being on the northern edge of the Indo-Australian Plate as it pushes into the South East Asia.

Flora and fauna

Timor, together with the Lesser Sunda Islands to the northwest and the smaller islands to the northeast, is covered by tropical dry broadleaf forests. Many trees are deciduous or partly deciduous, dropping their leaves during the dry season. Timor, the Barat Daya Islands, and the smaller islands to the northeast of Timor constitute the Timor and Wetar deciduous forests ecoregion.

During the Pleistocene epoch, Timor was the abode of extinct giant monitor lizards similar to the Komodo dragon. Like Flores, Sumba and Sulawesi, Timor was also once a habitat of extinct dwarf stegodonts, relatives of elephants.


As the nearest island with a European settlement at the time, Timor was the destination of William Bligh and seamen loyal to him following the infamous mutiny on the "Bounty" in 1789. It was also where survivors of the wrecked "HMS Pandora", sent to arrest the "Bounty" mutineers, landed in 1791 after that ship sank in the Great Barrier Reef.

The island has been politically divided in two parts for centuries: West Timor, which was known as Dutch Timor from the 1800s until 1949 when it became Indonesian Timor, a part of the nation of Indonesia which was formed from the old Netherlands East Indies; and East Timor which was known as Portuguese Timor, a Portuguese colony until 1975. It includes the enclave of Oecussi-Ambeno in West Timor. The Netherlands and Portugal did not formally resolve the matter of the boundary until 1912.

Japanese forces occupied the whole island from 1942 to 1945. They were resisted in a guerrilla campaign led initially by Australian commandos. (See Battle of Timor.)

Following the withdrawal of the Portuguese, internal unrest, and an Indonesian invasion in 1975, East Timor was annexed by Indonesia and became known as "Timor Timur" or 'Tim-Tim' for short. It was regarded by Indonesia as the country's 27th province, but this was never recognised by the United Nations or Portugal. The people of East Timor resisted Indonesian forces in a prolonged guerilla campaign. (See: Indonesian occupation of East Timor). Following a referendum held in 1999, under a UN sponsored agreement between Indonesia and Portugal, in which its people rejected the offer of autonomy within Indonesia, East Timor achieved independence in 2002 and is now officially known as Timor-Leste. A group of people on the Indonesian side of Timor have been reported active since 2001 trying to establish a Great Timor State. [ [http://www.etan.org/et2005/february/20/26ofical.htm etan.org] ]


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