East of the Indian mainland, in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, lies the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The are separated by a 10-degree channel approximately 150 km wide.
- Area – 8249 sq km (Andaman- 6498 and Nicobar- 1841)
- Capital – Port Blair
- Islands – 572
- Population – 380,581
- Sex Ratio – 874
- Literacy Rate – 86.6 %
The Union Territory was formed on 1 November 1956. The first Administrator was Manohar L. Kampani. The current Lieutenant-Governor, Admiral (Retd) Devendra Kumar Joshi, took over in October 2017.
The earliest archaeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years. However, genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andamanese people may have been isolated from other populations since some time during the Middle Palaeolithic.
Since that time, the Andamanese have diversified into distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups. The Nicobar Islands appear to have been populated by people of various backgrounds.
The strategic advantage of the Islands was utilized by the Marathas to launch an expedition against the Sriwijaya Empire. The Danish and the British used it as a maritime base for ships.
It was also used by the Japanese forces during the World War 2 under the nominal authority of Subhash Chandra Bose.
The name ‘Andaman’ has been derived from ‘Andoman’, the Malay word for the Hindu deity Hanuman, while ‘Nicobar’ means ‘the land of naked people’.
The languages spoken here are Hindi, Andaman Creole Hindi, English, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Munda and Kharia.
The prominent tribal groups found in the Union Territory include Andamanese, Nicobarese, Jarawa, Onge and Sentinelese.
No civilian settlement is allowed on Ross Island, situated east of Port Blair.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands are known for their beaches and adventure activities like snorkeling. The prominent beaches include Harminder Bay Beach, Ramnagar Beach, Radhanagar Beach, Corbyn’s Cove and Chirya Tapu, and Karmatang Beach.
The prominent islands here include Red Skin Island, Cinque Island, Havelock Island, Ross Island, Jolly Buoy and Barren Island.
There are 96 wildlife sanctuaries, 9 national parks and a biosphere reserve.
Cellular Jail is a national memorial dedicated to the epic freedom struggle of India. Spread as seven spokes of a bicycle wheel, the unique three-storied structure was the first of its kind in India. 663 cells in the jail were specially built for solitary confinement of the prisoners.
- The only active volcano in India is in the Barren Islands located here.
- Indira Point is the southernmost point of India.
- Dermocheleys Coriacea, the largest sea turtles in the world, nest here.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have India’s first and only joint tri-service command – the Army, the Navy and the Air Force – due to its strategic importance.
Agriculture is prevalent and paddy is the main food crop. Coconut and areca nut are the cash crops of the Nicobar group of islands. The Union Territory is also known for spices like clove, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon.
Besides fisheries and fish processing units, the islands also have shell and wood based handicraft units.