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What is the difference between East Timor and West Timor?

What is the difference between East Timor and West Timor? Quite simply East Timor is the sovereign state known as he Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, while West Timor is an integral part of and province of Indonesia.

To read bout the difference between Papua New Guinea and West Papua click here

Divided Islands

Divided islands an peninsulas are nothing new to YPT. Sometime they represent the same divided people, such as Korea, other times truly different people, such as Hispaniola, while others still just don’t get on, like Cyprus.

You can check out our Cyprus tour here

Others though as Papua and Timor while sharing a lot in common, are essentially different people. 

What is the difference between East Timor and West Timor?

The main crux here is the issue of colonisation. Holland ruled West Timor, while Portugal ruled East Timor. This meant a heavy Portuguese in fluency in the country such as with peoples names and of course Christianity. Alongside Papua New Guinea and the Philippines it is one of only 3 majority Christian countries in the region, particularly Catholicism. 

Difference between east timor and west timor
East Timor and West Timor

Unlike in its other colonies Portugal ruled East Timor fairly well and the locals did not want Indonesian rule when they left. Sadly though these were Cold War times and the locals did not get much of a say in the matter. 

Names are also Portuguese in origin and they are pretty damned good at football!

To read about Mouzinho signing for Angkor Tiger click here

West Timor on the other hand was ruled by Holland as part of the Dutch colonial empire and duly became part of Indonesia upon its independence. Currently it has a population of over 2 million making it more populous then East Timor, and with more of an ethnic mix. There are around 5 languages spoken in the area, which includes Tetun the main language in Timor-Leste. 

Much like East Timor though the population is predominantly Catholic, with less than 20 percent being Muslim and fewer still adhering to Buddhism. 

Can you visit East and West Timor?

The borders not only remain open, but are particularly easy to cross for Timorese and Indonesian nationals. This is particularly important as East Timor has an exclave surrounded by Indonesian territory known as Ocuesse.

To read about enclaves and exclaves click here

Flights wise the West Timorese capital of Kupang is slightly better connected than Dili in East Timor, although they si something the government of the later are trying to improve. 

Want to see the island for yourself? Check out our Timor Overland Tour

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