Timor introduction
 
According to local mythology, the island of Timor was originally a giant crocodile. Another story tells that about 600 years ago, some passing traders were looking for a place to land, saw it rising out of the sea in the mist, and gave it the name. The Land of the Sleeping Crocodile.  Whatever the origins, the crocodile motif is to be found in many Timorese handcrafts.

Geologically, Timor is a limestone atoll � having risen out of the sea some four million years ago and still emerging at a rate of three millimetres a year. Limestone makes for good fossils, fish, (the first sea animals), crinoids and dentoids � all about 320 million years old - but it makes lousy farming land.

Timor island (1990 est. pop. 3,900,000), c.13, 200 sq mi/34,200 sq km, largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sundas, in the Malay Archipelago. Timor is divided politically between Indonesia and East Timor (Timor-Leste). The island is long, narrow, and almost wholly mountainous. Rice, coconuts, and coffee are grown, and stretches of grassland support cattle. There are oil and gas fields off East Timor's southern coast. The inhabitants are of predominantly Malay and Papuan descent.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish themselves in Timor; the Dutch, who arrived in 1613, disputed their claim to the island. By a treaty of 1859, modified in 1893 and finally made effective in 1914, the border between the Dutch and Portuguese territories was settled. In World War II, Timor was occupied (early 1942) by the Japanese. With the creation of the Republic of Indonesia in 1950, Dutch Timor became Indonesian territory and is now part of Nusa Tenggara Timur province.

In 1975, Portuguese Timor declared itself independent as East Timor. Indonesia invaded, however, and annexed the region. Sporadic guerrilla warfare continued into 1999, when Indonesia agreed to permit a referendum in which voters chose independence. Pro-Indonesian militias and the army subsequently engaged in a campaign of terror and brutality, but under international pressure Indonesia asked for UN peacekeepers, and, following a period of transitional UN administration, East Timor became independent in 2002.

West Timor is the Indonesian portion of the island of Timor and forms part of the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur, (NTT or East Nusa Tenggara). West Timor's capital and chief port is Kupang. The land area of West Timor is 15,850 km�. Oecussi-Ambeno district is a small enclave within West Timor, which is politically part of East Timor. During the colonial period it was known as Dutch Timor and was a centre of Dutch loyalists during the Indonesian War of Independence (1945 - 1949). 

Three native languages belonging of Fabronic Stock of the Austronesian group of languages are spoken in West Timor, the others in East Timor. These languages are Ndaonese, Rotinese, and Helong. Indonesian is also spoken as the official national language of Indonesia.

Demographics
West Timor has approximately 1.6 million inhabitants. The population is mostly of Malay, Papuan or Polynesian extraction, with a tiny ethnic Chinese group. About half of the population belongs to the Atoni ethnicity. West Timor's main religions are Catholic (56%), Protestant (35%) and Muslim (8%).

Economy
West Timor has an unemployment rate of 10% with significant underemployment. Per capita income is roughly one-third the national average with most other socio-economic indicators lagging behind the Indonesian average.  Most measurable economic activity is centered on the city of Kupang.
 
 
 
 
 

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