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Oecusse

The meaning of «oecusse»

Oecusse (also variously Oecussi, Ocussi, Oekussi, Oekusi, Okusi, Oé-Cusse), also known as Oecusse-Ambeno (Portuguese: Oé-Cusse Ambeno; Tetum: Oecussi Ambeno) and formerly just Ambeno, officially the Special Administrative Region Oecusse-Ambeno (Portuguese: Região Administrativa Especial Oé-Cusse Ambeno), is a municipality (formerly a district) and the only Special Administrative Region of East Timor.

A coastal exclave in the western part of the island of Timor, Oecusse is separated from the rest of East Timor by West Timor, which is part of the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia, and which surrounds Oecusse in all directions except the north, where it borders the Savu Sea.

The capital of Oecusse is Pante Macassar, also called Oecussi Town, or formerly, in Portuguese Timor, Vila Taveiro. Originally Ambeno was the name of the former district and Oecussi its capital.[2]

Oecusse has an area of 814 square kilometres (314 sq mi).

Oecusse has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen Aw) with a hot, humid and uncomfortable wet season from December to April and a hot, less humid dry season from May to November.

Oecusse and Ambeno are the names of the two original kingdoms, of which Ambeno existed before the colonial period.

Oecusse was among the first parts of the island of Timor on which the Portuguese established themselves, and is thus usually considered the cradle of East Timor. In about 1556, the Dominican friar António Taveiro, operating from a base on Solor, started missionary work on the north coast of Timor. Shortly after this, in 1569, the village of "Alifao" (Lifau) is mentioned on a European map. It was situated five kilometres to the west of modern Pante Macassar.[4] For the Portuguese traders in sandalwood, Lifau was a convenient place to land since it was situated to the south of their base in the Solor Archipelago. The area was dominated by the Ambeno kingdom, which was sometimes referred as the kingdom of Lifau. In 1641 the Dominican priests baptised the royal families of the Ambeno, Mena and Amanuban kingdoms, which meant that Portuguese influence increased in parts of western Timor. Migration of Topasses, a Eurasian population, rose in the 1650s from Larantuka on Flores. After 1664 they were governed by officers belonging to the Hornay and Costa families, and were able to dominate most of Timor. The Topass leaders used Lifau as their main stronghold on Timor, but still resided much of their time in Larantuka. In the second half of the seventeenth century they made great profits through the sandalwood trade, attracting merchants from Siam, Batavia, Macao, and Goa in India. The precious wood was brought to Lifau and sold to external traders under Topass supervision.[5]

In 1702, Lifau became the authorised capital of the colony when it received the first governor from Goa. The following period saw frequent clashes between the governor and the independent-minded Topasses, who had their strongholds in Tulicão west of Lifau, and Animata in the inland. Under their leader Gaspar da Costa they attacked the Dutch colonial post at Kupang in 1749 but were smashingly defeated in the Battle of Penfui, and subsequently moved their residence to Pante Macassar (Oecusse) in 1759 due to Dutch military pressure. The capital of the governor was transferred from Lifau to Dili in 1769, because of the frequent attacks from the Topass leader Francisco Hornay III. Most of West Timor was left to Dutch forces, who were conquering what is today Indonesia. The Eurasian leadership of Oecusse by and by turned into a Timorese kingship, and members of the Hornay and Costa families reigned as Liurai (kings) until modern times. They regularly intermarried with the Ambeno royalty. In the 1780s a reconciliation took place between the governor in Dili and the Topasses, who henceforth usually supported the Portuguese government.[6]

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