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During the colonial period it was known as "Dutch Timor" and was a centre of Dutch loyalists during the Indonesian National Revolution (1945–1949). From 1949 to 1975 it was known as "Indonesian Timor".
European colonization of Timor began in the 16th century. Although the Portuguese claimed the island of Timor in 1520, the Dutch (in the form of the Dutch East India Company) settled West Timor in 1640, forcing the Portuguese out to East Timor. The subsequent collapse of the company meant that in 1799 the area returned to official Dutch rule. Finally, in 1914 the border between East and West Timor was finalized by a treaty between Portugal and the Netherlands that was originally signed in 1859 and modified in 1893.
West Timor had the status of residentie within the Dutch East Indies.
On 6 September 2000, three UNHCR staff members were attacked and killed in Atambua, a town in West Timor. Pero Simundza from Croatia, Carlos Caceres-Collazio from Puerto Rico and Samson Aregahegn from Ethiopia were killed in an attack by 5,000 members of a pro-Indonesian militia, armed with machetes, on the office of UNHCR in Atambua, West Timor, where the main refugee camp was located in the vicinity of the border with East Timor. (see Attacks on humanitarian workers).
West Timor is a political region that comprises the western half of Timor island with the exception of Oecussi-Ambeno district (which is politically part of East Timor) and forms a part of the Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur, (NTT or East Nusa Tenggara). The land area of West Timor is 15,850 square kilometres (6,120 sq mi). The highest point of West Timor is Mount Mutis at 2,427 metres (7,963 ft).
Rote Island, the southernmost island of Indonesia, is southwest of West Timor.
West Timor's largest town and chief port is Kupang.
West Timor is part of the East Nusa Tenggara province. It was formerly split into the City of Kupang (a kabupaten or regency-level administrative area) and four regencies (kabupaten); from west to east these are: Kupang, Timor Tengah Selatan (South Central Timor), Timor Tengah Utara (North Central Timor) and Belu. However a fifth regency - Malaka - was in 2012 formed from the southern half of Belu Regency. Note the administrative area has shrunk as Rote Ndao Regency (Rote and Ndoa islands to the southwest) and Sabu Raijua Regency (the Savu Islands further west) were split off in 2002 and 2009 respectively from Kupang Regency. The island accounts for 35.5% of the provincial population.
|Kupang Regency||Kupang||1958||UU 69/1958||5,898.18||303,998|
|South Central Timor Regency||Soe||1958||UU 69/1958||3,947.00||440,470|
|North Central Timor Regency||Kefamenanu||1958||UU 69/1958||2,669.66||229,603|
|Belu Regency||Atambua||1958||UU 69/1958||2,445.57||352,400|
- Note that the figues for Belu Regency include those for Malaka Regency.
West Timor's main religions are Catholicism (56%), Protestantism (35%) and Islam (8%). There are approximately 1.8 million inhabitants in 2008, some of them are still refugees who fled the 1999 violence in East Timor.
In addition to the national language, Indonesian, native languages belonging to the Fabronic Stock of the Austronesian group of languages are spoken in West Timor, the others in East Timor. These languages include Uab Meto, Tetum, Ndaonese, Rotinese, and Helong. Knowledge of Dutch is now limited to the older generations.
West Timor has an average unemployment rate of 2.39%. 30% of the population lived below the poverty line in 1998; as of 2012, it stays at 30%. The economy is mainly agricultural, using slash and burn methods to produce corn, rice, coffee, copra and fruit. Some timber harvesting is undertaken, producing eucalyptus, sandalwood, teak, bamboo and rosewood.