A Short history of East Timor

East Timor was once the farthest of the Portuguese colonies, it lies in the longitude of 123E and latitude of 9S. Australia is less than 600km south of East Timor, where such proximity allows many East Timorese from the eastern highlands, eg. Baucau and Lospalos, to be able see the evening lights emanating from northern Australia, possibly from a light house. While towards the southern hemisphere is occupied by Australia, the northern is occupied by the Republic of Indonesia with its 200,000,000 citizens and its 13,000 islands. Further north lies other countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Japan and you name the rest. Sometimes I tend to think that if Indonesia were a huge land mass instead of a composition of islands, then the island of Timor would be the land bridge that connects Australia and Asia, just like Sinai to Africa and Asia.

East Timor is mostly mountainous with plains occupying the the shore lines. The height of the mountains in the chain of the island of Timor averages at 2500m above sea level. Although the total area of East Timor (excluding West Timor) is only around 18,900km2, the highest mountain peaks at 3000m . East Timor also possesses a great diversity of culture, there are more than 30 dialects spoken in East Timor, with Tetum as the main dialect. (Many people tend to treat the distinct languages of East Timor as "dialects", I think they are wrong because if such is true, then Portuguese or Spanish are not languages. They are part of dialects spoken in southern Europe). Another important point about these "dialects" languages is that they are very different from one another, two people speaking with different East Timorese languages cannot understand each other, for instance of Lospalos (Fataloco) and Bobonaro (Bunak)

The territory of East Timor is comprised of the former Portuguese Timor: the eastern half of the island of Timor, the enclave of Oecusse inside West Timor (Indonesian Timor), the island of Atauro, about 20km north of Dili and the islet of Jaco at the eastern tip of Timor.

East Timor pre 1975

East Timor post 1975

MAGNA CARTA (declaration of principles)

Letter from Xanana Gusmao to the First East Timorese Convention in Diaspora

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