Long before the Portuguese Vasco de Gama, both the Chinese
and the Arabs knew Timor as an "inexhaustible source of
precious woods, porcelain, lead and other" natural resources
that indigenous people could benefit from.
The traditional community of Timor consisted of 5 major
social groups or classes: Liurari (the chiefs and
kings), date (nobility, warriors - the less
important ones), ema-reino (free plebeians),
ata (slaves) and finally lutum (nomad cattle
the population resisted colonialization, and it came to
armed uprisings in 1719, 1895 and 1959, all of which,
however, were demolished. In 1859 the island was divided
between Portugal and the Netherlands. Following a 1904
agreement, the eastern part of the island came to belong to
the Portuguese. Yet, the Maubers' resistance allowed the
people to survive 5 centuries of colonialism. The forests
with the noble woods were not as resistant. In particular,
during the colonialization, the white sandal tree was
subjected to heavy deforestation, which constituted an early
ecological disaster. Already from this early stage the
production of coffee became the basis for the economy.
1970-75 Independence struggle
Much later than in the Portuguese colonies in Africa,
supporters of independence joined in 1970. They formed a
broad front consisting of nationalist political
organizations as well as several social movements and
decided to fight for national liberation.
In April 1974, the so-called carnation revolution
took place in Portugal. The struggle against the colonial
power at that time was already well developed and had
considerable popular support. The collapse of the colonial
rule in Portugal also fundamentally changed the political
situation in East Timor. legalizing the patriotic movement.
In September, the Liberation Movement was formed for an
independent East Timor (FRETILIN).
The new Portuguese government promised independence to
the country, but the local colony administration supported
the creation of the Timor Democratic Union (UDT), which
advocated the preservation of the colonial status quo and a
"federation with Portugal". At the same time, the Consulate
of Indonesia in the capital Dili funded a group of East
Timorese who formed the Timorese People's Democratic
Association (Apodeti), which advocated the incorporation of
East Timor into Indonesia.
Thus, a period of conflict between the neo-colonialist
Portuguese interests, the followers of Indonesian annexation
and the supporters of independence began. In August 1975,
the UDT conducted a coup attempt, after which FRETILIN
called for a total armed revolt. The Portuguese colony
administration left the country, and with FRETILIN in full
control of the area, on November 28, 1975, the movement
declared the country independent under the name of the
Democratic Republic of East Timor. However, it was not
officially recognized by Portugal, which had widespread
political and diplomatic consequences that still
characterize the situation today.