Portuguese traders and missionaries came to Flores in the 16th century, mainly to Larantuka and Sikka. Their influence is still discernible in Sikka's language, culture and religion.
The Dominican order was extremely important in this island, as well as in the neighbouring islands of Timor and Solor. When in 1613 the Dutch attacked the Fortres of Solor, the population of this fort, led by the Dominicans, moved to the harbor town of Larantuka, on the eastern coast of Flores. This population was mixed, of Portuguese and local islanders descent and Larantuqueiros, Topasses (people that wear heats) or, as Dutch knew them, the 'Black Portuguese' (Swarte Portugueezen).
The Larantuqueiros or Topasses became the dominant sandalwood trading people of the region for the next 200 years. This group used Portuguese as the language for worship, Malay as the language of trade and a mixed dialect as mother tongue. This was observed by William Dampier, a British Brigadier visiting the Island in 1699:
- These have no Forts, but depend on their Alliance with the Natives: And indeed they are already so mixt, that it is hard to distinguish whether they are Portugueze or Indians. Their Language is Portugueze; and the religion they have, is Romish. They seem in Words to acknowledge the King of Portugal for their Sovereign; yet they will not accept any Officers sent by him. They speak indifferently the Malayan and their own native Languages, as well as Portugueze.
In 1846, Dutch and Portuguese initiated negotiations towards delimiting the territories but these negotiations led to nowhere. In 1851 the new governor of Timor, Solor and Flores, Lima Lopes, faced with an impoverished administration, agreed to sell eastern Flores and the nearby islands to Dutch in return for a payment of 200,000 Florins. Lima Lopes did so without the consent of Lisbon and was dismissed in disgrace, but his agreement was not rescinded and in 1854 Portugal ceded all its historical claims on Flores. After this, Flores became part of the territory of Dutch East Indies.
During World War II a Japanese invasion force landed at Reo on 14 May 1942 and occupied Flores.
After the war Flores became part of independent Indonesia.
Read more about this topic: Flores
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