Andaman Islands
Overview
 
The Andaman Islands are a group of Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 archipelagic
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 islands in the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 between India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 to the west, and Burma (also known as Myanmar), to the north and east. Most of the islands are part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory
Union Territory
A Union Territory is a sub-national administrative division of India, in the federal framework of governance. Unlike the states of India, which have their own elected governments, union territories are ruled directly by the federal government; the President of India appoints an Administrator or...

 of India, while a small number at the north of the archipelago, belong to Myanmar.
The name "Andaman" first appears in the work of Arab geographers of the ninth century (Soleyman in 851),, though it is uncertain whether ancient geographers like Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 also knew of the Andamans but referred to them by a different name.
Encyclopedia
The Andaman Islands are a group of Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 archipelagic
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 islands in the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 between India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 to the west, and Burma (also known as Myanmar), to the north and east. Most of the islands are part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory
Union Territory
A Union Territory is a sub-national administrative division of India, in the federal framework of governance. Unlike the states of India, which have their own elected governments, union territories are ruled directly by the federal government; the President of India appoints an Administrator or...

 of India, while a small number at the north of the archipelago, belong to Myanmar.

History

The name "Andaman" first appears in the work of Arab geographers of the ninth century (Soleyman in 851),, though it is uncertain whether ancient geographers like Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 also knew of the Andamans but referred to them by a different name. They were also described as being inhabited by fierce cannibalistic tribes by the Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 navigator Buzurg ibn Shahriyar of Ramhormuz in his tenth century book Ajaib al-Hind (The wonders of India), in which he also mentioned an island he called Andaman al-Kabir (Great Andaman). During the Chola Dynasty
Chola Dynasty
The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty which was one of the longest-ruling in some parts of southern India. The earliest datable references to this Tamil dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BC left by Asoka, of Maurya Empire; the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until...

 period in South India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

 (800-1200AD), which ruled an empire encompassing southeastern peninsular India, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Maldives
Maldives
The Maldives , , officially Republic of Maldives , also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented north-south off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and...

, and large parts of current day Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and Malaysia, the island group was referred to as Timaittivu (or impure islands). Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 briefly mentions the Andamans (calling them by the name "Angamanain"), though it is uncertain whether he visited the islands, or whether he met the natives if he did, as he describes them as having heads like dogs. His remark about their features may be the second-hand account of a local resident or fellow traveler, which is a frequent cause for certain exaggerated descriptions in Marco Polo's travels. Another Italian traveler, Niccolò de' Conti (c. 1440), mentioned the islands and said that the name means "Island of Gold". A theory that became prevalent in the late nineteenth century, and has since gained momentum, is that the name of the islands derives from the Sanskrit language, by way of Malay
Malay language
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

, and refers to the deity, Hanuman
Hanuman
Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

. In the Age of Exploration, travelers often noted the "ferocious hostility" of the Andamanese.

The Maratha
Maratha Empire
The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian imperial power that existed from 1674 to 1818. At its peak, the empire covered much of South Asia, encompassing a territory of over 2.8 million km²....

 admiral Kanhoji Angre
Kanhoji Angre
Kanhoji Angre or Conajee Angria or Sarkhel Angre was the first notable chief of the Maratha Navy in 18th century India. He fought successfully all his life against the British, Dutch and Portuguese naval interests in the Indian Ocean during the 18th century, and hence was alleged by them to be a...

 used the Andamans as a base and "fought the British off these islands until his death in 1729."

British Occupation and Penal Colony

In 1789 the government of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 established a naval base and penal colony
Penal colony
A penal colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general populace by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory...

 on Chatham Island in the southeast bay of Great Andaman
South Andaman Island
South Andaman Island is the southernmost island of the Great Andaman and is home to the majority of the population of the Andaman Islands. Port Blair, the capital of the islands, is located on the southern part of this island. Some areas of the island are restricted areas for non-Indians; however,...

. The settlement is now known as Port Blair
Port Blair
Port Blair is the largest town and a municipal council in Andaman district in the Andaman Islands and the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India...

 (after the Bombay Marine lieutenant Archibald Blair
Archibald Blair
Archibald Blair was a naval surveyor in the Bombay Marine.He joined the Bombay Marine, received his first commission in 1771 and in 1792 was promoted captain. In 1772, as a midshipman, he went on his first survey mission along the coasts of India, Iran and Arabia. In 1780 he was lieutenant on a...

 who founded it). After two years, the colony was moved to the northeast part of Great Andaman
North Andaman Island
North Andaman Island is the northern island of Great Andaman of the Andaman Islands, with an area of 1376 km². The main town on the island is Diglipur. Known for its marine life, the island's main industries are rice and orange-growing...

 and was named Port Cornwallis after Admiral William Cornwallis
William Cornwallis
Admiral the Honourable Sir William Cornwallis GCB was a Royal Navy officer who fought in the Napoleonic Wars. He was the brother of Charles Cornwallis, the 1st Marquess Cornwallis, governor-general of India...

. However, there was much disease and death in the penal colony and the government ceased operating it in May 1796.

In 1824 Port Cornwallis was the rendezvous of the fleet carrying the army to the First Burmese War
First Burmese War
The First Anglo-Burmese War was the first of three wars fought between the British and Burmese Empires in the 19th century. The war, which began primarily over the control of northeastern India, ended in a decisive British victory, giving the British total control of Assam, Manipur, Cachar and...

. In the 1830s and 1840s, shipwrecked crews who landed on the Andamans were often attacked and killed by the natives, alarming the British government. In 1855, the government proposed another settlement on the islands, including a convict establishment
Cellular Jail
The Cellular Jail, also known as Kālā Pānī , was a colonial prison situated in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. The prison was used by the British especially to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago...

, but the Indian Rebellion of 1857
Indian Rebellion of 1857
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of sepoys of the British East India Company's army on 10 May 1857, in the town of Meerut, and soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, with the major hostilities confined to...

 forced a delay in its construction. However, since the rebellion gave the British so many prisoners, it made the new Andaman settlement and prison an urgent necessity. Construction began in November 1857 at Port Blair using inmates' labor, avoiding the vicinity of a salt swamp that seemed to have been the source of many of the earlier problems at Port Cornwallis.

In 1867, the ship Nineveh wrecked on the reef of North Sentinel Island. The 86 survivors reached the beach in the ship's boats. On the 3rd day, they were attacked with iron-tipped spears by naked islanders. One person from the ship escaped in a boat.
For some time sickness and mortality were high, but swamp reclamation
Land reclamation
Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, is the process to create new land from sea or riverbeds. The land reclaimed is known as reclamation ground or landfill.- Habitation :...

 and extensive forest clearance continued. The Andaman colony acquired notoriety following the murder of the Viceroy Richard Southwell Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo, on a visit to the settlement (8 February 1872) by a Muslim convict, a Pathan
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 from Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Sher Ali. In the same year the two island groups, Andaman and Nicobar
Nicobar Islands
The Nicobar Islands are an archipelagic island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean...

, were united under a chief commissioner residing at Port Blair.
The above accounts, written while Britain still occupied India, may leave the impression that these settlements were a model of progressive penal reform. Indian accounts, however, paint a different picture. From the time of its development in 1858 under the direction of James Pattison Walker, and in response to the mutiny and rebellion of the previous year, the settlement was first and foremost a repository for political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s. The Cellular Jail
Cellular Jail
The Cellular Jail, also known as Kālā Pānī , was a colonial prison situated in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. The prison was used by the British especially to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago...

 at Port Blair when completed in 1910 included 698 cells designed for solitary confinement; each cell measured 4.5 m (15 ft) by 2.7 m (9 ft) with a single ventilation window 3 metres (10 ft) above the floor. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Vināyak Dāmodar Sāvarkar was an Indian freedom fighter, revolutionary and politician. He was the proponent of liberty as the ultimate ideal. Savarkar was a poet, writer and playwright...

 was one of the notable prisoners there.

There was a prison here in the 10th century. The Indians imprisoned here referred to the Island and its prison as "Kala Pani" (Black water) (See also movie by the same name, which deals with some of these events Kalapani). While the exact number of prisoners who died in this camp is not fully known, it is estimated they number in the thousands (some of the names of the political prisoners who perished can be found here - this list is predominantly of those from eastern India and is incomplete). Many more died of harsh treatment, as well as through the harsh living and working conditions, in this camp.

The Viper Chain Gang Jail on Viper Island was reserved for troublemakers, and was also the site of hangings. In the 20th century it became a convenient place to house prominent members of India's independence movement.

Japanese occupation

The Andaman islands were later occupied by Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The islands were nominally put under the authority of the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind (Provisional Government of Free India) headed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Netaji visited the islands during the war, and renamed them as Shaheed (Martyr) & Swaraj (Self-rule). On December 30, 1943 during the Japanese occupation, Subhas Chandra Bose, who was controversially allied with the Japanese, first raised the flag of Indian independence. General Loganathan, of the Indian National Army
Indian National Army
The Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauj was an armed force formed by Indian nationalists in 1942 in Southeast Asia during World War II. The aim of the army was to overthrow the British Raj in colonial India, with Japanese assistance...

, was Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which had been annexed to the Provisional Government. Before leaving the islands, the Japanese rounded up and executed 750 civilians. After the end of the war the islands briefly returned to British control, before becoming part of the newly independent state of India.
At the close of the Second World War the British government announced its intention to abolish the penal settlement. The government proposed to employ former inmates in an initiative to develop the island's fisheries, timber, and agricultural resources. In exchange inmates would be granted return passage to the Indian mainland, or the right to settle on the islands. The penal colony was eventually closed on August 15, 1947 when India gained its independence. It has since served as a museum to the independence movement.

Recent history

In 1974, a film crew and anthropologist Trilokinath Pandit attempted friendly contact by leaving a tethered pig, some pots and pans, some fruit and toys on the beach at North Sentinel Island. One of the islanders shot the film director in the thigh with an arrow. The following year, European visitors were repulsed with arrows.

On August 2, 1981, the ship Primrose grounded on the North Sentinel Island reef. A few days later, crewmen on the immobile vessel observed small black men were carrying spears and arrows and building boats on the beach. The captain of the Primrose radioed for an urgent airdrop of firearms so the crew could defend themselves, but did not receive them. Heavy seas kept the islanders away from the ship. After a week, the crew were rescued by an Indian navy helicopter.

On January 4, 1991, Pandit made the first known friendly contact with the Sentinelese.

Until 1996, the Jarawa met all visitors with flying arrows. From time to time they attacked and killed poachers on the lands reserved to them by the Indian government. They also killed some workers building the ATR Andaman Trunk Road, which traverses Jarawa lands. The first peaceful contact with the Jarawa occurred in 1996. Settlers found a teenage Jarawa boy named Emmei near Kadamtala town. The boy was immobilized with a broken foot. They took Emmei to a hospital where he received good care. Over several weeks, Emmei learned a few words of Hindi before returning to his jungle home. The following year, Jarawa individuals and small groups began appearing along roadsides and occasionally venturing into settlements to steal food. The ATR may have interfered with traditional Jarawa food sources.

In April 1998, American photographer John S Callahan organized the first surfing project in the Andamans, starting from Phuket in Thailand with the assistance of Southeast Asia Liveaboards (SEAL), a UK owned dive charter company. With a crew of international professional surfers, they crossed the Andaman Sea on the yacht Crescent and cleared formalities in Port Blair. The group proceeded to Little Andaman Island, where they spent ten days surfing several spots for the first time, including Jarawa Point near Hut Bay, and the long right reef point at the southwest tip of the island, named Kumari Point. The resulting article in SURFER Magazine, "Quest for Fire" by journalist Sam George, put the Andaman Islands on the surfing map for the first time. Footage of the waves of the Andaman Islands also appeared in the film "Thicker than Water", shot by cinematographer Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson (musician)
Jack Johnson was born May 18, 1975 is an American folk rock singer-songwriter, surfer and musician known for his work in the soft rock and acoustic genres. In 2001, he achieved commercial success after the release of his debut album, Brushfire Fairytales. He has since released four more albums, a...

, who later achieved worldwide fame as a popular musician. Callahan went on to make several more surfing projects in the Andamans, including a trip to the Nicobar Islands in 1999.

On 26 December 2004 the coast of the Andaman Islands was devastated by a 10 metres (33 ft) high tsunami following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake...

. On 11 August 2009 a magnitude 7 earthquake struck near the Andaman Islands, causing a tsunami warning to go into effect. On 30 March 2010 a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck near the Andaman Islands.

Boa Sr.
Boa Sr.
Boa Sr. was an Indian Great Andamanese elder. She was the last surviving person who remembered any Bo, a language of the Great Andamanese language family.She was born around 1925.Boa Sr...

, the last speaker of the ancient language Bo, died on January 28, 2010, at the age of 85.

Geography

The Andaman Archipelago is an oceanic continuation of the Burmese Arakan Yoma range
Chin Hills
The Chin Hills are a range of mountains in Chin State, northwestern Burma , that extends northward into India's Manipur state. They are part of the Arakan Mountain Range . The highest peak in the Chin Hills is Nat Ma Taung, or Khonumthung , in southern Chin State, which reaches 3,053 meters...

 in the North and of the Indonesian Archipelago in the South. It includes some two hundred islands in the Bay of Bengal, with the Andaman Sea
Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea or Burma Sea is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands, India; it is part of the Indian Ocean....

 to the east between the islands and the coast of Burma. North Andaman Island
North Andaman Island
North Andaman Island is the northern island of Great Andaman of the Andaman Islands, with an area of 1376 km². The main town on the island is Diglipur. Known for its marine life, the island's main industries are rice and orange-growing...

 is 285 kilometres (177.1 mi) south of Burma, although a few smaller islands including the three Coco Islands
Coco Islands
Coco Islands are a pair of strategically important islands located in the eastern Indian Ocean, politically administered by Burma under Yangon Division. They are allegedly leased to the People's Republic of China since 1994...

, which belong to Burma are further north, while at the southern end of the archipelago, the Ten Degree Channel
Ten Degree Channel
The Ten Degree Channel is a channel that separates the Andaman Islands from the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. The two sets of islands together form the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands....

 separates the Andamans from the Nicobar Islands
Nicobar Islands
The Nicobar Islands are an archipelagic island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean...

 to the south. The highest point in the Andamans is Saddle Peak
Saddle Peak (Andaman Islands)
Saddle Peak is located on North Andaman Island in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands. At 732 m, it is the highest point of the archipelago in the Gulf of Bengal. It is surrounded by the Saddle Peak National Park....

 (732 metres (2,401.6 ft)).

The natural vegetation of the Andamans is tropical forest with mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

s on the coast. Most of the forests are evergreen but there are areas of deciduous forest on North Andaman, Middle Andaman
Middle Andaman Island
Middle Andaman Island is the central island of the Great Andaman archipelago, with a total area of 1,536 km². Population of Middle Andaman consists of Bengali Settlers, Tamilians, and Keralites. The main occupation of the inhabitants is farming and Agriculture...

, Baratang
Baratang
Baratang, less commonly known as Baratang Island, is an island in the Andaman Islands, India, with an area of approximately . It is one of the main islands of the Great Andaman group, a closely set archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, adjoining the Andaman Sea. Middle Andaman is to its north, and...

 and parts of South Andaman Island
South Andaman Island
South Andaman Island is the southernmost island of the Great Andaman and is home to the majority of the population of the Andaman Islands. Port Blair, the capital of the islands, is located on the southern part of this island. Some areas of the island are restricted areas for non-Indians; however,...

. The rainforests of the islands are similar in composition to those of the west coast of Burma and are largely unspoilt despite logging and the demands of the fast-growing population driven by immigration from the Indian mainland. There are protected areas on Little Andaman, Narcondam
Narcondam Island
Narcondam or Narcondum is a small volcanic island located in the Andaman Sea. Its central peak rises some 710 m above mean sea level, and is formed of andesite. It is considered to be part of the Andaman Islands, the main body of which lie approximately 114 km to the west. The island is part...

, North Andaman and South Andaman but these are mainly aimed at preserving the coast and the marine wildlife rather than the rainforests. Threats to wildlife come from introduced species including rats, dogs, cats and the elephants of Interview Island
Interview Island
Interview Island is one of the Andaman Islands, India. It has an area of 99 km2 and is situated to the west of Austen Strait which separates North Andaman Island and Middle Andaman Island....

 and North Andaman.

Climate

The climate is typical of tropical islands of similar latitude. It is always warm, but with sea-breezes. Rainfall is irregular, but usually dry during the north-east, and very wet during the south-west, monsoons.

Fauna

The islands are home to a number of endemic species and more that live only here and on the Nicobar Islands to the south. Mammals endemic to the Andaman Islands include three white-toothed shrews: Andaman Spiny Shrew Crocidura hispida
Crocidura hispida
The Andaman Spiny Shrew or Andaman Shrew is a species of mammal in the Soricidae family. It is endemic to India. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.-Source:...

, Andaman White-toothed Shrew Crocidura andamanensis, and Jenkins' Shrew Crocidura jenkinsi. Also living on the islands, the Andaman Horseshoe Bat
Andaman Horseshoe Bat
The Andaman Horseshoe Bat is a species of bat in the Rhinolophidae family. It is endemic to India. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, and subtropical or tropical swamps.-References:* Participants of CBSG CAMP Workshop:...

 (rhinolophus cognatus), the Andaman Rat
Andaman Rat
The Andaman Rat is a species of rodent in the family Muridae.It is found only in the Andaman Islands.-References:* CBSG CAMP Workshop, India 2000. . Downloaded on 20 July 2007....

 (rattus stoicus) and the South Andaman krait (Bungarus andamanensis). Endemic or near endemic birds include a serpent-eagle Spilornis elgini, a crake Rallina canningi, a wood-pigeon Columba palumboides, a cuckoo dove Macropygia rufipennis, a coucal Centropus andamanensis, a Scops Owl Otus balli, a hawk-owl Ninox affinis, the Narcondam Hornbill
Narcondam Hornbill
The Narcondam Hornbill is a species of hornbill in the Bucerotidae family. It is endemic to the Indian island of Narcondam in the Andamans. Males and females have distinct plumages.-Description:...

 (Aceros narcondami), a woodpecker Dryocopus hodgei, a drongo Dicrurus andamanensis, a treepie Dendrocitta bayleyi and the White-headed Starling
White-headed Starling
The White-headed Starling , also known as the Andaman White-headed Starling, is a species of starling in the Sturnidae family. It is found in wooded habitats on the Indian islands of the Andamans and Nicobars. It is sometimes placed in the genus Sturnia.-References:* BirdLife International 2004. ....

 (sturnus erythropygius). The islands also have a number of endemic reptiles, toads and frogs. There is a sanctuary 45 miles from Havelock island for saltwater crocodiles. Over the past 25 years there have been 24 crocodile attacks with 4 fatalities, including the death of American tourist Lauren Failla. The government has been criticized for failing to inform tourists of the crocodile santuary and danger, while simultaneously promoting tourism.

Demographics

For information on the indigenous languages, see Andamanese languages
Andamanese languages
The Andamanese languages form a proposed language family spoken by the Andamanese peoples, a group of Negritos who live in the Andaman Islands, a union territory of India. Its validity is disputed...


The population of the Andamans was 356,000 in 2010, having grown from 50,000 in 1960. Of the people who live in the Andaman Islands, a small minority of about 1,000 are indigenous Adivasi
Adivasi
Adivasi is an umbrella term for a heterogeneous set of ethnic and tribal groups claimed to be the aboriginal population of India. They comprise a substantial indigenous minority of the population of India...

s of the Andamans. The rest are mainly divided between Bengali
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

, Hindi and Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 people from the mainland.

The Andamanese is a collective term to describe the peoples who are the aboriginal inhabitants
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 of the Andaman Islands and Nicobar Islands
Nicobar Islands
The Nicobar Islands are an archipelagic island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean...

, located in the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

. The term includes the Great Andamanese
Great Andamanese
Great Andamanese is a collective term used to refer to related indigenous peoples who lived throughout most of the Great Andaman archipelago, the main and closely situated group of islands in the Andaman Islands. Numbering between 200 and 700, each of the Great Andamanese peoples maintained a...

, Jarawa
Jarawa (Andaman Islands)
The Jarawa are one of the adivasi indigenous peoples of the Andaman Islands. Their present numbers are estimated at between 250-350 individuals. Since they have largely shunned interactions with outsiders, many particulars of their society, culture and traditions are poorly understood...

, Onge, Shompen
Shompen
The Shompen or Shom Pen are the indigenous people of the interior of Great Nicobar Island, part of the Indian union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.- Etymology and autonym :...

, Sentinelese and the extinct Jangil
Jangil
The Jangil were one of the Andamanese indigenous peoples of the Andaman Islands, located in the Bay of Bengal. They were formerly distributed through the interior of Rutland Island, and were given the name Rutland Jarawa because it was supposed that they were related to the neighbouring Jarawa...

. The Great Andamanese, who now number just 52, were originally 10 distinct tribes, 5,000-strong when the British colonised the Andaman Islands. Most were killed or died of diseases brought by the colonisers. Most of the Great Andamanese tribes have forgotten their mother tongues and speak in Hindi now. Anthropologically
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 they are usually classified as Negrito
Negrito
The Negrito are a class of several ethnic groups who inhabit isolated parts of Southeast Asia.Their current populations include 12 Andamanese peoples of the Andaman Islands, six Semang peoples of Malaysia, the Mani of Thailand, and the Aeta, Agta, Ati, and 30 other peoples of the Philippines....

s, represented also by the Semang
Semang
The Semang are a Negrito ethnic group of the Malay Peninsula. Lowland Semang tribes are also known as Sakai, although this term is considered to be derogatory by the Semang people. They are probably the indigenous peoples of this area. They have been recorded to have lived here since before the...

 of Malaysia and the Aeta
Aeta
The Aeta , Agta or Ayta are an indigenous people who live in scattered, isolated mountainous parts of Luzon, Philippines. They are considered to be Negritos, who are dark to very dark brown-skinned and tend to have features such as a small stature, small frame, curly to kinky afro-like textured...

 of the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

.
The Andamans are theorized to be a key stepping stone in a great coastal migration of humans from Africa via the Arabian peninsula, along the coastal regions of the Indian mainland and towards Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 and Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

. Genetic analysis indicates that male Onges and Jarawas almost exclusively belong to Haplotype D
Haplogroup D (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup D is a Y-chromosome haplogroup. Both D and E lineages also exhibit the single-nucleotide polymorphism M168 which is present in all Y-chromosome haplogroups except A and B, as well as the YAP unique-event polymorphism, which is unique to Haplogroup...

, which is also found in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, but is rare on the Indian mainland and elsewhere in Asia. However, this is a subclade of the D haplogroup which has not been seen outside of the Andamans, which marks the insularity of these tribes. The only other group that is known to predominantly belong to haplogroup D are the Ainu aboriginal people
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

 of Japan. Male Great Andamanese, unlike the Onge and the Jarawa, have a mixed presence of Y-chromosome haplogroups O
Haplogroup O (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup O is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. Haplogroup O is a close cladistic brother group with Haplogroup N, and is one of several descendants of Haplogroup K ....

, L
Haplogroup L (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup L is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup.-Origins:Haplogroup L is associated with South Asia. It has also been found at low frequencies among populations of Central Asia, Southwest Asia, and Southern Europe along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea...

, K
Haplogroup K (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup K is a Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. This haplogroup is a descendant of Haplogroup IJK. Its major descendant haplogroups are Haplogroup LT and Haplogroup K...

 and P
Haplogroup P (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup P is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup.This haplogroup contains the patrilineal ancestors of most Europeans and almost all of the indigenous peoples of the Americas...

, which places them between mainland Indian and Asian populations.

The mtDNA distribution, which indicates maternal descent, describes all the Onge and a heavy majority of the Great Andamanese as belonging to haplogroup M
Haplogroup M (mtDNA)
In human mitochondrial genetics, Haplogroup M is a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup. An enormous haplogroup spanning all the continents, the macro-haplogroup M, like its sibling N, is a descendant of haplogroup L3....

, found ubiquitously in India, where it represents 60% of all maternal lineages. Given the insularity of the Andamanese, this has led geneticists to believe that this haplogroup originated with the earliest settlers of India during the coastal migration that brought the ancestors of the Andamanese to the Indian mainland, the Andaman Islands and further afield to Southeast Asia. Some anthropologists postulate that Southern India and Southeast Asia was once populated largely by Negritos similar to those of the Andamans, and that some tribal populations in the south of India, such as the Irulas
Irulas
Irulas are a scheduled tribe of India. Irulas are present in various parts of India, but are mainly located in the Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu...

 are remnants of that period.

Government

Port Blair
Port Blair
Port Blair is the largest town and a municipal council in Andaman district in the Andaman Islands and the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India...

 is the chief community on the islands, and the administrative centre of the Union Territory. The Andaman Islands form a single administrative district within the Union Territory, the Andaman district
Andaman district
Andaman district was a district of India, one of three districts in the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The district's administrative territory encompasses all of the Andaman Islands, which are located in the Indian Ocean...

 (the Nicobar Islands were separated and established as the new Nicobar district
Nicobar district
Nicobar district is one of three districts in the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The district's administrative territory encompasses all of the Nicobar Islands, which are located in the Indian Ocean . The area covered by this district is 1841 km²...

 in 1974).

Cultural references

The islands are prominently featured in Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger...

's Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

 mystery, The Sign of the Four, as well as in M.M. Kaye's "Death in the Andamans." The magistrate in Lady Gregory's play Spreading the News
Spreading the News
Spreading the News is a short one-act comic play by Lady Gregory, which she wrote for the opening night of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, 27 Dec. 1904. It was on a double bill with William Butler Yeats's Cathleen Ni Houlihan. Audiences may have dozed through Yeats's play , but Spreading the News was...

had formerly served in the islands. A principal character in the book "Six Suspects" (ISBN 0-385-60815-2) by Vikas Swarup
Vikas Swarup
Vikas Swarup is an Indian novelist and diplomat who has served in Turkey, the United States, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Japan, best known for his novels Q & A and Six Suspects.-Early life:...

 is from the Andaman Islands. Kalapani
Kala Pani (1996 film)
Kaalapani is a 1996 Indian epic film directed by Priyadarshan, starring Mohanlal, Prabhu Ganesan, Tabu, Nedumudi Venu, Sreenivasan, Tinnu Anand, Annu Kapoor, Alex Draper, Amrish Puri, and Vineeth...

(Malayalam) and Sirai Chaalai
Sirai Chaalai
Sirai Chaalai is a Tamil feature film directed by Priyadarshan. The film stars Mohanlal, Prabhu Ganesan, Vineeth, Amrish Puri and Tabu in the lead roles The film's name is derived from and based on the mode of imprisonment in British India. The film was made to mark the 50th anniversary of India's...

(Tamil) a 1996 Indian film by Priyadarshan on freedom struggle and the lives of prisoners in Andaman Islands.

Airports

The only airport in the islands is Vir Savarkar Airport
Vir Savarkar Airport
Veer Savarkar International Airport, commonly known as Port Blair Airport , is an airport located south of Port Blair and is the main airport of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India...

 in Port Blair
Port Blair
Port Blair is the largest town and a municipal council in Andaman district in the Andaman Islands and the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India...

, which has scheduled services to Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata , formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it was the commercial capital of East India...

 and Chennai
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

. The airport is under control of the Indian Navy
Indian Navy
The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff , usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the Navy...

. Daytime flying is allowed.

Due to the length of these routes and the small number of airlines flying to the islands, fares have traditionally been relatively expensive, although cheaper for locals than visitors. Fares are high during peak seasons of spring and winter, but fares have been decreased over the time due to large expansion of aviation industry in India.

See also


External links


External links

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