The inhabitants of Timor are descended from three waves of migrants. The first to settle the
island, Vedo-Australoid people related to Sri Lankans, arrived between 40.000 and 20.000 B.C. A second
wave of Melanesian people around 3.000 B.C. drove the original inhabitants,
called Atoni, up into the interior of Timor. The Melanesians were followed by Malay and Hakka
people from southern China. Most of the Timorese practiced subsistence agriculture. Frequent
visits from sea-going Arab, Chinese, and Gujerati traders
brought in metal goods, silks, and rice; the Timorese exported beeswax, spices,
and fragrant sandalwood.
By the time the
Portuguese made contact with Timor in the early
sixteenth century, it was divided into a number of small fiefdoms. The largest
was the kingdom of Wehale, composed of a mixture of Tetum,
Kemak, and Bunak peoples.
claimed Timor for their king in 1515, lured by the promise of
spices. For the next 460 years, the Portuguese controlled the eastern half of
the island, while the Dutch East India company took the western
half as part of its Indonesian holdings. The Portuguese ruled coastal regions
in cooperation with local leaders, but had very little influence in the
Although their hold
on East Timor was tenuous, in 1702 the Portuguese officially added
the region to their empire, renaming it "Portuguese Timor." Portugal used East Timor mainly as a dumping
ground for exiled convicts.
The formal boundary
between the Dutch and Portuguese sides of Timor was not drawn until
1916, when the modern-day border was fixed by The Hague.
In 1941, Australian
and Dutch soldiers occupied Timor, hoping to fend off
an anticipated invasion by the Imperial Japanese Army. Japan seized the island in February of 1942; the surviving
Allied soldiers then joined with local people in guerrilla war against the
Japanese. Japanese reprisals against the Timorese left about one in ten of the
island's population dead, a total of more than 50.000 people.
Portuguese Timor was
handed back to Portugal after the war, but Portugal continued to neglect the colony. Very little
investment was made in infrastructure, education and healthcare. The colony was
declared an 'Overseas Province' of the Portuguese Republic in 1955. Indonesia declared its independence from the Dutch, but made no
mention of annexing East Timor.
In 1974, a coup in Portugal moved the country from a rightist dictatorship to a
democracy. The new regime sought to disentangle Portugal from its overseas colonies, a move that the other
European colonial powers had made some 20 years earlier. East Timor declared its independence in 1975.
In December of that
year, Indonesia invaded East Timor, capturing Dili after just six hours of fighting. Jakarta declaring the region the 27th Indonesian province. This annexation, however, was not recognized by the
Government: overseas territory of Portugal /
overseas province (1955)
Population: 442.378 (1950) / 653.211 (1974)
Currency: Portuguese Timorese pataca
(100 avos), from 1959: Portuguese Timorese escudo
For more stamps see:
United Nations Transitional
Administration of East Timor
Portuguese Timor in Wikipedia.
Flag of Portuguese Timor in Flags of the
UPU 75th anniversary
designer: José de Almada Negreiros
printer: Lito Nacional,
1 16 A. globe,
letters, text "UniÃO POSTAL UNiVERSAL
/ 75º aniversario"
Michel 278/SG 319/Yvert 264)
The World United Against Malaria
printer: Casa da
2 2$50 malaria mosquito (Anopheles sundaicus), campaign emblem, text "O mundo unido contro
paludismo" and "A. sundaicus"
(cat. Michel 336/SG
date: 17 May 1965
printer: Lito Nacional, Porto
3 1$50 Archangel Gabriel,
ITU emblem, text "CENTENÁRIO / DA UNIÃO / INTERNACIONAL / DAS /
1865-1965" and "S. GABRIEL PATRONO DAS TELECOMUNICAÇÕES"
Michel 336/SG 385/Yvert 330)
date: 15 December 1973
4 20$ WMO
jubilee emblem, text "CENTENARIO DA OMI-OMM"
Michel 368/SG 418/Yvert 354)
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last revised: 6 October 2008