Timor

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Timor Largest of the Lesser Sunda Islands in the Malay archipelago. The chief towns are Kupang in the w and Dili in the e. From c.1520, Portuguese spice traders began to settle on Timor. When the Dutch landed in 1620, they settled on the w side. Japan occupied the island during World War 2. In 1950, West Timor became part of the Nusa Tenggara Timur province of the newly created Republic of Indonesia. In 1975, Portugal abandoned East Timor and the colony declared independence. Indonesia immediately invaded, and in 1976 annexed East Timor. Resistance to Indonesian rule, led by the independence movement FRETILIN, continued during the 1980s and 1990s amid widespread reports of human rights violations. In 1999, after a vote in favour of independence, violence erupted as pro-Indonesian militias sought to destabilize the new nation. A United Nations' (UN) peace-keeping force restored order, and East Timor gained full independence in 2002. A mountainous island, its main products are rice, coconuts, coffee, and tobacco. Area: 33,857sq km (13,074sq mi). Pop. (2000) 4,820,039; 891,000 (East Timor)

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