East Timor Declares Independence but Is Annexed by Indonesia (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: In the wake of revolutionary ferment leading to the establishment of a “People’s Republic of East Timor”, Indonesia invaded and subsequently annexed the former Portuguese colony.
Summary of Event
In the last half of the fifteenth century, European monarchs increased their authority and their resources well beyond the medieval model. For some, this meant interference with their neighbors; for others, the alternative was expansion outside Europe. Portugal was one of those countries that followed the path of overseas expansion. In short order, the Portuguese laid the foundations for a trading empire that reached to the mouth of the Pearl River in China, but the creation and maintenance of such an enterprise proved costly. In time, the size of the empire and the resources available to the Portuguese proved synergistically imbalanced. Unable and unwilling to continue the struggle, the Portuguese retained only a limited portion of their trading empire in Asia. Least among the portions of this first Portuguese empire was the eastern half of the island of Timor. Portuguese traders were attracted to the island as a source of sandalwood, a vital ingredient in the China trade. Not surprisingly, the Dutch traders who followed the Portuguese to Asia attempted to capture the Timorese sandalwood market. The “war” for control of the island continued with few interruptions until 1859, when a treaty defined...
(The entire section is 2100 words.)
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