The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Timor is an island at the south of the Malay Archipelago, divided between the independent state of East Timor, and West Timor, part of the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara with the surface of 11,883 sq mi/ 30,777 kmē. 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.

Map of Timor
Map of Timor

The island has been divided into two parts politically 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 Dutch East Indies; and East Timor which was known as Portuguese Timor from 1596 until 1975. This includes the enclave of Oecussi-Ambeno in West Timor. The Netherlands and Portugal did not formally resolve the matter of the boundary until 1912.

Following the Indonesian annexation in 1976 East Timor was known as Timor Timur or 'Tim-Tim' for short. It was regarded by Jakarta as the country's twenty-seventh province, but this was never recognised by the United Nations. 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.

To the south and southeast of Timor is the country of Australia. 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, 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.

On Timor there was for a long time a volcanic peak, whose perpetual fires served as a lighthouse to mariners navigating those seas. But in the year 1637 there took place a great eruption of the mountain, which ended in it being entirely swallowed up, leaving nothing behind it but a lake, in which its fires were quenched, and which now occupies its place.

According to local mythology, the island of Timor was a giant crocodile.

Last updated: 06-02-2005 01:50:14
Last updated: 08-16-2005 14:11:30