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Island, southern Malay Archipelago. It is the easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Indonesian-Malay peoples live along the coast and Melanesian aboriginals in the mountains. They speak dozens of Papuan and Malayan languages, as well as Portuguese in the east and Indonesian in the west. The Portuguese began trading with Timor c. 1520. In 1613 the Dutch settled at the island's southwestern tip, and the Portuguese moved to the north and east. Treaties in 1860 and 1914 divided the island between them. The island was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. In 1950 Netherlands Timor (West Timor) was transferred to Indonesia. East Timor was held by the Portuguese until 1975, when Indonesian troops invaded and annexed the area; it achieved full sovereignty in 2002.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Timor, visit Britannica.com.