Timor is an island in the southern part of the archipelago, it is divided between the independent state of East Timor and West Timor, part of East Nusa Tenggara province in Indonesia.The name of this island is taken from the word ‘east’, a Malay language for “east”, because it was located at the eastern tip of the island chain.
Similar to nearby islands, most Timorese are Melanesian 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. 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. 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, which is about 90% of the population. Roman Catholics are the majority on both halves of the island; Catholics outnumber Protestants in West Timor by about a 3:2 ratio. Muslims and Animists are most of the remainder, at about 5% each.
Timor is located north of Australia, and is one of the easternmost Sunda Islands. Together with Sumba, Babar and associated smaller islands, Timor forms the southern outer archipelago of the Lesser Sunda Islands with the inner islands of Flores, Alor and Wetar to the north, and beyond them Sulawesi.
The earliest historical records about the island of Timor was about Nagarakretagama in the 14th century, Canto 14, which identifies that Timur as an island in the territory of Majapahit. East was lot incorporated into the literature of ancient Javanese, Chinese and Indian trade networks to the 14th century as an exporter of aromatic sandalwood, slaves, honey and wax which were then colonized by the Dutch in Kupang and the Portuguese in the mid 1600s.
The island had a politically divided into two parts for centuries. Dutch and Portuguese fought to control the island until the Lisbon treaty in 1859, but they still have not officially resolve the border issue until 1912. West or East Timor is known as the Dutch until 1949 when the Indonesian Timor, a part of the Indonesian nation formed from the Dutch East Indies, while East Timor was known as Portuguese Timor, a Portuguese colony until 1975. This includes Oecussi-Ambeno in West Timor.
Japanese troops occupied the whole island in the years 1942-1945. They survive in a guerrilla campaign that was initially led by Australian commandos.