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The Andaman and Nicobar Islands ( ; Oriya: ଆନ୍ଡାମାନ୍ ଓ ନିକୋବାର୍ ଦୀପପୁନ୍ଜ, Bengali: আন্দামান ও নিকোবর দ্বীপপুঞ্জ,Kannada: ಅಂಡಮಾನ್ ಮತ್ತು ನಿಕೊಬಾರ್ , Tamil: அந்தமான் நிக்கோபார் தீவுகள், Telugu: అండమాన్ మరియు నికోబార్ దీవులు, Hindi: अंडमान और निकोबार

द्वीपसमूह) is a Union Territory of India. Informally, the territory's name is often abbreviated to A and N Islands, or ANI.

The territory is located in the Indian Oceanmarker, and geographically is considered part of Southeast Asia. It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islandsmarker and the Nicobar Islandsmarker, separated by the 10° N parallel, with the Andamans to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobars to the south. The Andaman Seamarker lies to the east and the Bay of Bengalmarker to the west.

The territory's capital is the Andamanese town of Port Blairmarker. The territory's population as per the most recent (2001) Census of India was 356,152. Added together, the total land area of the territory is approximately 6,496 km² or 2,508 sq mi.


First Inhabitants

The Andaman and Nicobar islands have been inhabited for several thousand years, at the very least. The earliest archaeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years; however, the indications from genetic, cultural and linguistic isolation studies point to habitation going back 30,000 to 60,000 years, well into the Middle Paleolithic.

In the Andaman Islands, the various Andamanese people maintained their separated existence through the vast majority of this time, diversifying into distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups. By the 1850s when they first came into sustained contact by outside groups, the indigenous people of the Andamans were: In total, these people numbered somewhere around 7,000 at the time of these first encounters. As the numbers of settlers from the mainland increased (at first mostly prisoners and involuntary indentured labourers, later purposely recruited farmers), these indigenous people lost territory and numbers in the face of punitive expeditions by Britishmarker troops, land encroachment and the effects of various epidemic diseases. The Jangil and most of the Great Andamanese groups soon became extinct; presently there remain only approximately 400–450 indigenous Andamanese, the Jarawa and Sentinelese in particular maintaining a steadfast independence and refusing most attempts at contact.

The indigenous people of the Nicobars (unrelated to the Andamanese) have a similarly isolated and lengthy association with the islands. There are two main groups:

Pre-colonial Era

The islands provided a temporary maritime base for ships of the Marathas in the 17th century. The legendary admiral Kanhoji Angre established naval supremacy with a base in the islands.

British Colonial Period

After an initial attempt to set up a colony in the islands by the British was abandoned after only a few years (1789–1796), a second attempt from 1858 proved to be more permanent. The primary purpose was to set up a penal colony for dissenters and independence fighters from the Indian subcontinent.

The British used the islands as an isolated prison for members of the Indian independence movement. The mode of imprisonment was called Kala pani. The Cellular Jailmarker in Port Blair was regarded as the "Siberiamarker" of British India.

The islands were administered as a Chief Commissioner's Province.

The Britishmarker continued their occupancy until the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Andaman Islands during World War II.

Indian Control

The islands were nominally put under the authority of the Arzi Hukumate Azad Hind of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Netaji visited the islands during the war, and renamed them as "Shaheed" (Martyr) & "Swaraj" (Self-rule). General Loganathan, of the Indian National Army was made the Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. On 22 February, 1944 he along with four INA officers-Major Mansoor Ali Alvi, Sub. Lt. Md. Iqbal, Lt. Suba Singh and stenographer Srinivasan arrived at Lambaline airport of Port Blair. On 21 March,1944 the Headquarters of the Civil Administration was established near the Gurudwara at Aberdeen Bazaar. On 2 October, 1944, Col. Loganathan handed over the charge to Maj. Alvi and left Port Blair, never to return.. The islands were reoccupied by British and Indian troops of the 116 Indian Infantry Brigade on 7 October 1945, to whom the remaining Japanese garrison surrendered.

At the independence of both India (1947) and Burmamarker (1948), the departing British announced their intention to resettle all Anglo-Indians and Anglo-Burmese on the islands to form their own nation, although this never materialized. It became an Indian union territory (UT) in 1950.

Recent History

On 26 December 2004 the coasts of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were devastated by a 10 metre high tsunami following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquakemarker. At least 5,930 people (possibly an accurate estimate) were believed to have been killed on the Nicobar and Andaman Islands during the disaster. One of the worst affected island was Katchalmarker and Indira Pointmarker, the southernmost point of India, which got submerged under the ocean.

While newer settlers of the islands suffered the greatest casualties from the tsunami, most of the aboriginal people survived because oral traditions passed down from generations ago warned them to evacuate from large waves that follow large earthquakes.


Aerial view of the Andaman Islands
There are 572 islands in the territory, of which only approximately 38 are permanently inhabited. Most of the islands (about 550) are in the Andamans group, 26 of which are inhabited. The smaller Nicobars comprise some 22 main islands (10 inhabited). The Andamans and Nicobars are separated by a channel (the Ten Degree Channel) some 150 km wide.

The total area of the Andaman Islands is some ; that of the Nicobar Islands approximately .


Map of Andaman and Nicobar Islands with an extra detailed area around Port Blair
Andaman & Nicobar Islands are blessed with a unique tropical rainforest canopy, made of a mixed flora with elements from Indian, Myanmarese, Malaysian and endemic floral strains. So far, about 2,200 varieties of plants have been recorded, out of which 200 are endemic and 1,300 do not occur in mainland India.

The South Andaman forests have a profuse growth of epiphytic vegetation, mostly ferns and orchids. The Middle Andamans harbours mostly moist deciduous forests. North Andamans is characterised by the wet evergreen type, with plenty of woody climbers. The north Nicobar Islands (including Car Nicobar and Battimalv) are marked by the complete absence of evergreen forests, while such forests form the dominant vegetation in the central and southern islands of the Nicobar group. Grasslands occur only in the Nicobars, and while deciduous fore=sts are common in the Andamans, they are almost absent in the Nicobars. The present forest coverage is claimed to be 86.2% of the total land area.

This atypical forest coverage is made-up of twelve types namely:
  1. Giant evergreen forest
  2. Andamans tropical evergreen forest
  3. Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest
  4. Cane brakes
  5. Wet bamboo brakes
  6. Andamans semi-evergreen forest
  7. Andamans moist deciduous forest
  8. Andamans secondary moist deciduous forest
  9. Littoral forest
  10. Mangrove forest
  11. Brackish water mixed forest
  12. Submontane hill valley swamp forest


Andaman Forest abounds in a plethora of timber species numbering 200 or more, out of which about 30 varieties are considered to be commercial. Major commercial timber species are Gurjan(Dipterocarpus spp.) and Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides). The following ornamental woods are noted for their pronounced grain formation:
  1. Marble Wood (Diospyros marmorata)
  2. Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides)
  3. Silver Grey (a special formation of wood in white chuglam)
  4. Chooi (Sageraea elliptical)
  5. Kokko (Albizzia lebbeck)
Padauk being sturdier than teak is widely used for furniture making.

There are burr wood and buttress formations in Andaman Padauk. The largest piece of buttress known from Andaman was a dining table of 13' x 7'. The largest piece of burr was again a dining table to seat eight persons at a time.

The holy Rudraksha (Elaeocarps sphaericus) and aromatic Dhoop/Resin trees also are found here.


These islands because some like turbo, trochus & nautilus etc. are used as novelties supporting many cottage industries producing a wide range of decorative items & ornaments. Shells such as giant clam, green mussel and oyster support edible shellfishery, a few like scallop, clam, and cockle are burnt in kilns to produce edible lime.


The major languages spoken in the Andamans in numerical order are Bengali (25.95%), Hindi (18.4%), Tamil including Sri Lankan Tamils (17.84%), Nicobarese and Telugu (12.93%). Other languages include Malayalam and English.

The majority of Andamans are Hindus, but there are significant Muslims and Christian and Sikh minorities.

Foreigners wishing to visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands require a Restricted Area Permit; however, there are now available on arrival at Port Blair's Veer Savarkar Airportmarker.


Andaman & Nicobar Islands are divided into 3 administrative districts. Each district is further divided into Sub-Divisions and taluks.

South Andaman district

Headquarters: Port Blairmarker

Sub-Divisions & Taluks:

Nicobar District

Headquarters: Car Nicobarmarker

Sub-Divisions & Taluks:


Little Andaman Island seen by Spot satellite


A total of 48,675 hectares of land is used for agriculture purposes. Paddy, the main food crop, is mostly cultivated in Andaman group of islands, whereas coconut and areca nut are the cash crops of Nicobar group of islands. Field crops, namely, pulses, oilseeds and vegetables are grown, followed by paddy during Rabi season. Different kinds of fruits such as mango, sapota, orange, banana, papaya, pineapple and root crops are grown on hilly land owned by farmers. Spices, viz., pepper, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon are grown under multi-tier cropping system. Rubber, red oil, palm and cashew are grown on a limited scale in these islands.


Ross Island a couple of days before the tsunami of December 2004.
There are 1,374 registered small scale, village and handicrafts units. Two units are export oriented in the line of fish processing activity. Apart from this, there are shell and wood based handicraft units. There are also four medium sized industrial units. SSI units are engaged in the production of polythene bags, PVC conduit pipes and fittings, paints and varnished, fibre glass and mini flour mills, soft drinks and beverages, etc. Small scale and handicraft units are also engaged in shell crafts, bakery products, rice milling, furniture making , etc. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation has spread its wings in the field of tourism, fisheries, industries and industrial financing and functions as authorised agents for Alliance Air/Jet Airways.

Macro-economic Trend

This is a chart of trend of gross state domestic product of Andaman and Nicobar Islands at market prices estimated by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.
Year Gross State Domestic Product
1980 530
1985 1,060
1990 1,900
1995 6,750
2000 9,560
2005 13,130

Andaman and Nicobar Islands' gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $354 million in current prices.

See also


  1. Palanichamy, Malliya G. Suraksha Agrawal, Yon-Gang Yao, Quing-Peng Kong, Chang Sun, Faisal Khan, Tapas Kumar Chaudhuri, and Ya-Ping Zhang. 2006. Comment on "Reconstructing the Origin of Andaman Islanders. Science 311:470 (27 January 2006).
  2. "Black Days in Andaman and Nicobar Islands" by Rabin Roychowdhury, Pub. Manas Pubs. New Delhi
  3. [1]
  4. INDAX - A comprehensive guide to India

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