Timor Laut - Encyclopedia




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TIMOR LAUT (" Seaweed Timor"; Dutch, Timor Laoet), Tenimber or Tenimbar, a group of islands in the Malay Archipelago, S.W. of the Aru Islands, between 6° 20' and 8° 30' S., and 130 40' and 132° 5' E. By the Dutch, in whose residency of Amboyna they are included, they are politically divided into two districts; Larat, including the inhabited islands of Larat, Vordate, Molu, and Maro, together with many uninhabited islands; and Sera, including the Sera Islands, Selaru, and the southern part of Yamdena, all inhabited. Only Yamdena and Selaru are by the natives called Timor Laut; all the others they call Tenimbar. The group is in the main coralline. Vordate, Molu and south-eastern Yamdena have a maximum height of 820 ft.; the rest are low and flat, except Laibobar, apparently a volcanic islet on the west, which has an extinct crater 2000 ft. high. Yamdena, the largest island, has an area of about I Ioo sq. m.; the rest together about I 000. Ritabel in Larat is the only safe roadstead during the east and west monsoons. The fauna includes buffaloes, a marsupial cuscus, some bats, the beautiful scarlet lory, rare varieties of the ground-thrush, honey-eater and oriole. The population is estimated at about 19,000. The aborigines are Papuans, but much mixed with Malayan and perhaps Polynesian elements. They are a fine race, often over 6 ft. tall, noted for their artistic sense. In other respects they are pagans in a low state of culture, mostly divided into hostile communities and addicted to piracy. The only means of subsistence is primitive agriculture on a poor soil, turtle and trepang fishery and cattle-rearing. The yearly export (trepang, turtle and kamuning wood) is valued at only £850 to £1650.

See H. O. Forbes, "Three Months' Explorations in the Tenimbar Islands," in Proc. of Roy. Geog. Soc. (1884); J. G. Riedel, De sluik en kroesharige rassen tusschen Selebes en Papua (1886); W. R. van Hoevell, "Tanimbar en Timor Laoet-Eilanden," in Tijdschrift Batavian Genootschap (1889), vol. xxxiii.; J. D. Garson, "On Cranial Characters of the Natives of Timor-Laut," Journ. Anthrop. Instit. xiii. 386.

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