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East Timor - A Country at the Crossroads of Asia and the Pacific

A Geo-Historical Atlas

East Timor - A Country at the Crossroads of Asia and the PacificFrédéric Durand
Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai
2006, 198 p.
ISBN : 978-974-9575-98-7
English Language English text

On 20 May 2002, rising out of a history fraught with rragedy, East Timor acceded to independence under the name of Timor Leste or Timor Lorosa’e : Sunrise Timor. This insular ethno-linguistic mosaic wedged between Southeast Asia and Oceania had been a colony of Portugal for four centuries before it was invaded by Indonesian forces in December 1975. It was not until 30 August 1999, however, that more than 78 percent of the population voted for independence, thus ending twenty-five years of Indonesian occupation.

This atlas highlights the spécifie features and characteristics of the new country of East Timor. Using statistical documentary resources available since the colonial period, its 136 colorful maps show how material constraints and local, régional, and world stakes hâve shaped Timor’s destiny, both past and présent.



Foreword to the English translation
Notes on spelling and methodology Introduction

PART 1  : East Timor : From a global perspective to a régional outlook

1.1 East Timor, a small country ?
1.1.1 Worldwide ranking : Forty-second by land area
1.1.2 Worldwide ranking : Forty-fourth by population
1.2 A long-thwarted intégration into the world community
1.3 At the crossroads of Asia and the Pacific
1.4 East Timor : Between Indonesia and Australia
1.5 The constraints of national redevelopment

part 2  : An island between the Asian and Melanesian worlds

2.1 A fragment of the Australian plate drifting towards Asia
2.2 The diversity of geological formations, relief features, and soils
2.3 Contrasting climates at the edge of the dry tropics
2.4 A substantial hydrographical System but giving rise to difficulties
2.5 Soils with limited potential
2.6 Sea currents between China and New Guinea

part 3 : From an ethnolinguistic mosaic to a colonial régime

3.1 Children of the Big Crocodile
3.2 A progressive and laborious Portuguese colonization
3.3 A mosaic of chieftaincies vis-à-vis Western powers
3.4 The political and économie outpost of the “Portuguese Empire of the Indies”

part 4 : Chronicle of an Indonesian invasion foretold

4.1 The process of decolonization sacrificed
4.2 The strategy of the hawk and the dove
4.3 Dili : Deeember 7, 1975
4.4 Military campaigns, holding camps, and programmed famines
4.5 A cornered résistance revitalized by the fierceness of the Indonesian army
4.6 The apparent “normalization” of the 1980s
4.7 New forms of résistance

part 5 : A tentative appraisal of the death toll (1974-1999)

5.1 Review of the available data
5.2 Contradietory assessments
5.3 Major social and territorial transformations

part 6 : National development during the Indonesian occupation (1975-1999)

6.1 Speetacular but targeted achievements
6.2 What kind of Indonesian citizenship for the East Timorese population ?
6.3 The setting up of neocolonial monopolies
6.4 The oil windfall : Economie interests and means for diplomatie pressure
6.5 The weapon of agriculture
6.6 Planning with little concern for local realities

part 7 : From referendum to un supervision (1999-May 2002)

7.1 The 1997 Asian crisis coming to the help of human rights ?
7.2 The revival of the hawk and dove strategy
7.3 The resurgence of paramilitary militia
7.4 Préparations for the August 1999 referendum marred by violence
7.5 Massive destruction and nearly three hundred thousand persons displaced
7.6 When the world’s geopolitical game is seen on the East Timor chessboard
7.7 East Timor : Crimes against humanity and forgotten génocide ?

PART 8 : East Timor looking to the future

8.1 On the threshold of intégration into the world community
8.2 The pro-Indonesian militia menace and the issue of the displaced persons
8.3 Viability and économie independence
8.4 Experieneing democracy
8.5 Managing cultural diversity
8.6 National development and urbanization
8.7 Avoiding passing from a “war-torn territory” to an “underdeveloped nation”

By way of conclusion

Chronology of international relations
Glossary and list of acronyms
Basic vocabulary
List of maps and figures


Frédéric DURAND teaches geography at Toulouse II - Le Mirail University, France. Author of several works on Southeast Asia, the Malay world, and Indonesia, he published the French version of this geo-historical atlas of East Timor in 2002, and the book, Catholicisme et protestantisme dans l’île de Timor : 1556-2003, in 2004.