Timor-Leste (East Timor)

The Indonesian archipelago is first exposed to the West in the 16th Century when the Portuguese attempt to monopolise the lucrative spice trade. The Portuguese establish two bases on the island of Timor, one covering the entire eastern half of the island (Portuguese East Timor), and a smaller enclave on the north coast (Oecusse).

The Portuguese are expelled from the region by the Dutch in the first half of the 17th Century, but retain control of East Timor and Oecusse.

The territories remain in Portuguese hands for the next 400 years, retaining their autonomy when Indonesia achieves independence from the Dutch in 1949.

Independence for East Timor becomes a possibility in April 1974 when a military coup in Portugal sees the installation of a new Portuguese Government determined to sever ties with its colonies.

However, the situation becomes volatile when the Portuguese abandon the province in 1975. Indonesia invades at the end of the same year. The East Timorese begin a 24 year struggle to liberate their homeland.