Flores Island History
Flores Island History
Before the first ships arrived, the florinese people lived in scattered village each tribe with its own social structure and traditions. Some coastal area were occupied by the makasarere and bugis from south Sulawesi which traded gold and elephant tusk for cinnamons, cotton and other goods. They also frequenly invaded flores for slave raids. In the 15th to 16th centuries eastern flores was ruled by ternate emperors from Maluku, while the west was in the hands of the sultanates of Sumbawa and Sulawesi.
Around 1570, the portugese disembarked on flores, drawn in by the lucrative spice trade. They brought catolicism which is still the main religion on Flores. The portugese capital was the harbor town of Larantuka. Portuguese soldiers, sailor and traders married local women and the population soon intermixed. Their descendants called themselves Larantuqueirors or topasses. They had a huge influence and controlled most of the local trade, especially the profitable sandalwood from timor.
The dutch who had arrived after the Portuguese but soon controlled most of Indonesia, wished to get rid of the Portuguese for good. After long struggles the protuguese were finaly defeated and they sold their remaining enclaves including Larantuka, retreating to east timor in 1769. The dutch, however were busy extending their influence in other parts of Indonesia and appointed local rules govern Flores. Only in 20th century did they venture to increase flores profitability and take over the rule. This was followed by a period of unrest and in 1907 tribal uprisings were suppressed with a bloody military operation
During world war II, flores was occupied briefly by the Japanese from 1942-1945. As Indonesia became independent under nationalist leader and first precident Soekarno in 1949, Flores became part of new nation. In 1966, after an attempted coup had led to the slaughter of thousands of communists by general Soeharto and his troops, soekarno surrendered the government to Soeharto. A 31 year-long military dictatorship followed. Under soeharto’s new order regime economy developed, yet opposition counter movements and freedom of specch were oppressed and corruption seethed.