Lifau is a village and suco in the East Timor exclave of Oecusse District. The village is located west of the mouth of the Tono River. 1,938 people live in the suco.


Lifáo, Liphao, Leiffauw
Suco and village of Lifau in subdistrict of Pante Macassar
Suco and village of Lifau in subdistrict of Pante Macassar
Lifau is located in East Timor
Location in East Timor
Coordinates: 9°13′0″S 124°18′0″E / 9.21667°S 124.30000°E / -9.21667; 124.30000
Country Timor-Leste
DistrictOecusse District
SubdistrictPante Macassar
16 ft (5 m)
 • Total1,938
 • Ethnicities
Atoin Meto
 • Religions


Lifau was the first European settlement on the island of Timor. Dominican brothers carried on missionary work on the north coast of Timor after 1556. In 1641 they arrived at Lifau and baptized the royal family of Ambeno.[1] A permanent Portuguese settlement arose in the 1650s, as many Portuguese moved from their old colonial seat Larantuka on Flores to Timor in response to the Dutch colonial settlement in Kupang in westernmost Timor (1653). Lifau remained the centre for Portuguese colonial activities for more than a century, and was headed by a governor after 1702. In 1769 the colonial capital was moved to Dili due to military aggression from the Eurasian Topasses who opposed the politics of the governor. After this date the place lost its significance, since the Topasses preferred to keep their residence in Pante Macassar further to the east.


  1. ^ Heuken, Adolf (2008). "Chapter 4: The Solor-Timor mission of the Dominicans, 1562-1800" (PDF). In Aritonang, Jan Sihar; Steenbrink, Karel (eds.). A History of Christianity in Indonesia. Brill. pp. 73–97. ISBN 978-90-04-17026-1.
  • C.R. Boxer (1947), The Topasses of Timor. Amsterdam: Indisch Instituut te Amsterdam.
  • Wheeler, T. (2004) East Timor. Footscray, VIC: Lonely Planet.

Coordinates: 8°32′S 126°10′E / 8.533°S 126.167°E / -8.533; 126.167