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 and spread Christianity. Among the bases they establish is the province of Portuguese East Timor.

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 the small enclave of Oecusse on the island's north coast.

The territories will 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 the ties with its colonies.

However, the situation becomes volatile when the Portuguese abandon the province in 1975.

When Indonesia invades the country at the end of the same year the East Timorese begin a 24 year struggle to liberate their homeland.