From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Republic of the Timorese Islands
República de las Islas Timorenses
Location of Timor
Government TypeUnitary republic
LanguagesSpanish (official)
Timorese Malay
CurrencyTimorese peso

Timor, officially the Republic of the Timor Islands (Spanish: República de las Islas Timorenses, ) and also referred to as Flores after its main island, is an island country located in southeast Asia. It shares maritime borders with Soenda and New Batavia.



Premodern history

The Timorese islands were home to various states and chiefdoms prior to colonisation, with several appearing in Javanese, Malay, Bugis, and Chinese records. Notable kingdoms include Larantuka, Bima, the Wehali confederation, Samawa, Selaparang, and Mangili. Several of these states functioned as vassals to various Javanese empires. Consistent diplomatic and commercial contacts were kept with kingdoms in the Celebes, the Philippines, and other neighbouring polities as well.

The Spanish and Portuguese first interacted with the islands around 1520, around the time the Philippines were colonised. Solor was the location of the first European trading post.

Early colonial era (1613-1804)

When Solor was conquered by the Dutch, the Portuguese re-established their presence in the kingdoms of Larantuka and Wehali. Over the next two centuries, the Portuguese and Dutch would get deeply involved in regional politics, vying for dominance. Dominican, Franciscan, and Jesuit missionaries began competing with each other.

In the mid-17th century, the ninth Raja of Larantuka converted to Roman Catholicism under military pressure from the Portuguese along with other rulers in the area. The island, now known as Flores, became center of Portuguese power in the East Indies after the Dutch capture of Malacca in the 1640s. The 1600s in general were a time of serious imperialism, when the two main European powers actively sought to establish colonial states.

Topas-European rivalry

The Topas class - known as the 'black Portuguese' - began to form, creoles of mixed European, Indian, Jewish, and indigenous descent which nominally pledged allegiance to the Portuguese monarch. The Viceroy of Larantuka, who acted as the main agent of Portuguese colonial rule, was often of Topas descent. In the 1650s, the Dutch fought a series of battles with the Topas, losing most of them.

In the early 1700s, the Portuguese appointed a non-Topas administrator for their Timorese territories. Rivalry between the European Portuguese and the Topas became intense. In the Battle of Penfui, the Topasses' power declined and the white Portuguese took over most matters of administration. The Topas then assimilated into the local populations, taking part in expeditions against European imperialists.

Spanish rule (1804-1935)

Ownership of the Timorese Islands had switched hands multiple times during the colonial era. By the 18th century, both the Portuguese and the Dutch had already established a presence in Timor, and had competing claims in the region. It was not long however until the Portuguese neglected their colonial effort in Timor, and eventually decided to sell their claims to the Spanish in 1804, to prevent it from falling under Dutch hands.

Flores Captaincy era

During Spanish rule, it was governed as a Captaincy-General under the viceroyalty of New Spain (from 1804-1872).

Philippine administration

In 1872, the islands were transferred to the Viceroyalty of the Philippines.

The Sumbawa and Lomboc islands crisis

After the 2nd Dutch-Spanish War ended in 1855, the Spanish still held claims over the islands of Lomboc and Sumbawa, which they claimed they had inherited from the Portuguese after they purchased Timor in 1804. The refusal of the Dutch to hand over Lomboc was motivated by the island's significant role in international trade traffic. However, the latter half of the 19th century saw Dutch rule being challenged by the local rulers, culminating in revolts in Lomboc in 1899. By 1902, the Dutch were able to put down these revolts, but had very little interest in keeping the rebellious islands especially after the Dutch-Mexican War (1901-1903) and the Quasi-war against New Netherland (1906-1908).

In 1910, the Spanish offered to purchase the islands from the Dutch, backed by their existing claims on the island. In 1911, the Treaty of Batavia was signed, and resulted in the formal handover of the islands to the Captaincy-General of Timor.

Independence process

During Spanish decolonization in 1929, a referendum was held in the Timorese Assembly, with almost three-fourths of the Assembly based in Cupang voting for independence. To semi-independent transitionary government was established in 1930, in preparation for full independence. In 1935, the Republic of the Timorese Islands was officially established as a unitary state, and held its first elections.

Government and Politics




See also