Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Coordinates: 11°41′N 92°43′E / 11.68°N 92.72°E / 11.68; 92.72
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Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Clockwise from top-right:
Havelock Island
Formation
1 November 1956
Government of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
 • Lieutenant governorDevendra Kumar Joshi
 • Chief secretaryKeshav Chandra, IAS
National ParliamentParliament of India
 • Lok Sabha1 seat
High CourtCalcutta High Court (Port Blair Bench)
Area
Emblem of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
BirdAndaman wood pigeon
FlowerPyinma
MammalDugong
TreeAndaman Padauk
List of Indian state and union territory symbols

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a

Great Nicobar
is the southernmost point of India.

The territory shares

Nicobar, South Andaman, and North and Middle Andaman with the capitals at Car Nicobar, Port Blair and Mayabunder
respectively.

Genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andamanese people may have been isolated from other populations during the

Japanese Empire. After Indian Independence in 1947, the region became a province and later a union territory after the adoption of the Constitution of India
in 1950.

The islands host the

uncontacted tribe
.

Etymology

The name Andaman might have been derived from Handuman, after the Indian God

Arabia, probably a mis-transcription of the name Nakkavaram. An 11th-century CE work Kathasaritsagar indicates the name as Narikel Dweep.[5] Marco Polo termed the island as Necuverann, while the islands were known as Lo-Jan Kuo in China, a translation of Nakkavar with the same meaning.[5]

History

Early history

Genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andamanese people may have been isolated from other populations during the Middle Paleolithic era, which ended 30,000 years ago.[6] Archeological evidence obtained from middens have been dated the earliest civilisations back to 200-300 BCE.[7] The islands have been mentioned by Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE.[4][5]

Middle ages

South East Asia

The

Nicobar islands existed on a major trade route connecting India to the South East Asia and had much contact with the outside world for centuries. But there are very few accounts of information as there was no written language with the indigenous people to document their history.[8] The islands have been mentioned in the accounts of travellers like Faxian in the 6th century CE and I-T’sing in 7th century CE.[5]

In the 11th century CE,

Kulothunga I.[11][12] Chola inscriptions from Thanjavur, dated to 1050 CE, describe the islands as Ma-Nakkavaram meaning "great open/naked land" in Tamil.[13][14] The islands are later mentioned by Marco Polo in the 13th century CE and Friar Oderic in early 14th century CE.[5][15]

European colonisation

The European

colonisation on the islands began when settlers from the Danish East India Company arrived on the Nicobar Islands on 12 December 1755.[16] On 1 January 1756, the Nicobar Islands were made into a Danish colony, first named Nye Danmark (New Denmark) and later Frederiksøerne (Frederick's Islands).[17] The islands were managed from the Dutch colony of Tranqebar in the Indian mainland. However, various attempts to settle on the islands were unsuccessful due to repeated outbreaks of malaria, which led to the death of the colonists.[8]

Andamanese fishing (c. 1870)

Between 1778 and 1783,

Andaman islands to set up a naval base and establish a penal colony.[19] In 1794, a first batch of 100 prisoners were sent to the island but the settlement was abandoned in 1796.[19]

In 1858, the British established a colony near

independence activists away from the Indian mainland.[21][22]

World War II

Surrender of the Japanese to Lt.Col. Nathu Singh, commander of the Rajput Regiment in 1945

During the

Subhash Chandra Bose on 29 December 1943, based on the understanding with the Japanese with the islands renamed as Shaheed-Dweep (Martyr Island) and Swaraj-dweep (Self-rule Island).[24] Bose appointed General A. D. Loganathan as the governor of the islands, who had limited power while the real control of the islands remained with the Japanese.[24] In the years under Japanese occupation, there have been reports of widespread looting, arson, rape and extra judicial killings.[24][25]

Local people were often killed on trivial matters with the largest being the

116th Indian Infantry Brigade, and Chief Administrator Noel Patterson, in a ceremony performed at the Gymkhana Ground in Port Blair on 7 October 1945.[26]

Post independence

During the

India Independence in 1947, the islands became part of the Dominion of India. As per the Constitution of India, the Islands were designated as the only part D territory in 1950, to be administered by a lieutenant governor appointed by the Government of India.[29] The islands were later used to resettle people displaced during the partition with a substantial number of displaced immigrants establishing agricultural colonies.[30] The islands became a separate union territory administered by the Government of India, following the re-organization in 1956.[31] The islands have been developed into a key defence establishment since the 1980 due to its strategic location in the Bay of Bengal across the Strait of Malacca.[32][33]

On 26 December 2004, the coasts of the Andaman and Nicobar islands experienced 10 m (33 ft) high tsunami waves following an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean which resulted in more than 2,000 casualties, 46,000 injuries and rendering at least 40,000 homeless.[34] The locals and tourists on the islands suffered the greatest casualties while the indigenous people largely survived unscathed due to movement to high grounds following the oral traditions passed down over generations that warned them to evacuate following earthquakes.[35]

Geography

Map of Andaman and Nicobar Islands

There territory consists of 836

longitudes.[37] The islands are grouped into the north Andaman islands and south Nicobar islands, separated by the 150 km (93 mi) wide Ten Degree Channel.[36] The Andamans cover an area of 6,408 km2 (2,474 sq mi) while the Nicobar group covers an area of 1,841 km2 (711 sq mi).[36] The highest point is the Saddle Peak at 737 m (2,418 ft), located in North Andaman Island.[38]

Barren Island, the only active volcano in India

The northernmost point of the islands is 901 km (560 mi) away from the mouth of the

maritime borders with Indonesia located about 165 km (103 mi) to the south, Myanmar located 280 km (170 mi) to the north-east and Thailand located 650 km (400 mi) to the south-east.[39] Indira Point, the southernmost point of India, is located at 6°45’10″N and 93°49’36″E at the southern tip of Great Nicobar.[40] The capital and largest city is Port Blair, located 1,190 km (740 mi) from Chennai and 1,255 km (780 mi) from Kolkata on the Indian mainland.[31] Barren Island, the only active volcano in India, is located in the Andaman Sea.[41][42][43]

The islands have a 1,962 km (1,219 mi) long coast-line.

shoals and coral reefs.[45] The altitude varies significantly from completely flat islands to gradually raising topography from the coast to the interior in larger islands.[45] The islands are generally surrounded by shallow seas of varying depths in the vicinity with some deep natural bays occurring along certain coasts.[45] The islands have a moderate temperature around the year with the average ranging from 23°C to 31°C.[46] The islands have a tropical climate with warm summers and not so chill winters.[46] The rainfall is dependent on the monsoons and tropical cyclones are common in late summer.[46]

Flora and fauna

evergreen forests
in the interior of the islands

The islands have

grasslands while evergreen forests form the dominant vegetation in the central and southern islands of the Nicobar group.[47] The forest coverage is estimated to be 86.2% of the total land area with about 2,200 varieties of plants of which 200 are endemic and 1,300 do not occur in mainland India.[47] There are more than 200 species used for timber.[47]

Indian elephants were introduced in the 19th century to move timber

There are more than 8300 species of fauna of which 1117 are endemic to the islands.

Barking deer and Sambar deer.[47]

Nicobar pigeon, the closest living relative to the extinct Dodo

There are about 270 species of birds in the islands of which 90 are endemic.

bird's nest soup.[51] The islands serve as an intermediate resting site for birds such as Horsfield's bronze cuckoo, Zappey's flycatcher and Javan pond heron during long distance migrations.[52] The Nicobar pigeon found in the islands is the closest living relative to the extinct Dodo.[53] The territory is home for about 896 species of winged insects including 225 butterflies species.[48][47]

There are more than 1350 species of

Official symbols of Andaman and Nicobar[55]
Animal Dugong (Dugong dugon)
Bird Andaman wood pigeon (Columba palumboides)
Tree
Andaman padauk
(Pterocarpus dalbergioides)
Flower Pyinma (Lagerstroemia hypoleuca)

Demographics

As per the

2011 census, the population was 380,581, of which 202,871 (53.3%) were males and 177,710 (46.7%) were females.[2] The sex ratio was 878 females per 1,000 males.[57] There were a total of 94,551 households and about 143,488 (37.7%) of the population lived in urban areas.[2] Hinduism (69.5%) is the major religion of people of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands followed by Christianity (21.7%) and Islam (8.5%).[58]

Religion in Andaman and Nicobar (2011)[58]
Religion Percent
Hinduism
69.45%
Christianity
21.28%
Islam
8.52%
Others
0.75%

The Andaman islands were populated by the

uncontacted tribe in India.[60] When the islands were first colonized, the population of the natives were estimated to be around 5,000 and while the population of islands temporarily increased during colonization, the population saw a massive spike post-1960s due to the policies of the Union Government that encouraged settlers from other parts of the country.[61] In the early 21st century, the population of indigenous people has drastically dropped and As of 2016, it was estimated to consist of 44 Great Andamanese, 380 Jarawas, 101 Onges, 15 Sentinelese and 229 Shompens.[62] The Government of India is trying to protect the remnant population by providing access to healthcare facilities, communication and social engagement.[63][62]

Distribution of languages in Andaman and Nicobar (2011)[64]
Language Percent
Bengali
28.49%
Tamil
15.20%
Telugu
13.24%
Hindi
12.91%
Nicobarese
7.60%
Malayalam
7.22%
Others
15.33%

Languages

The Andamanese people speak about a dozen endangered Andamanese languages, which belong to two families, Great Andamanese and Ongan that are unrelated to each other or to any other language group.[65] There are two unattested languages: Sentinelese, spoken by Sentinelese people, who refuse contact with outsiders, which might be related to Ongan as per Anvita Abbi and Jangil, which became extinct in the 1920s.[66][67] Indigenous to the Nicobar Islands are the Shompen language, spoken by Shompen people and the five Nicobarese languages, which form part of the Austroasiatic language family and are spoken by about 29,000 people or 7.6% of the population.[68][64]

The majority of the population, however, are speakers of immigrant languages which include

Sadri (5.5%), and Kurukh (4%).[64] Hindi is the official language of the region, while English is declared an additional official language for communication purposes.[69]

Administration and politics

The islands form a part of the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and is administered by a

Lieutenant Governor
replaced the Chief Commissioner as the head of administration. In 1981, a "Pradesh council" with councillors as representatives of the people was constituted to advise the Lieutenant Governor.
[72] The territory sends one representative to Lok Sabha of the Indian Parliament from its Andaman and Nicobar Islands Lok Sabha constituency.[73] The territory is divided into three districts, each headed by a deputy commissioner.[74] The Calcutta High Court has jurisdiction over the islands with a permanent seat at Port Blair.[75]

Districts of Andaman and Nicobar[74]
Name Capital Area
(km2)[76]
Population
(2011)[77]
Taluks[77]
North and Middle Andaman Mayabunder 3,302 105,597 Diglipur, Mayabunder, Rangat
South Andaman Port Blair 3,106 238,142 Port Blair, Ferrargunj, Little Andaman
Nicobar Car Nicobar 1,841 36,842
Great Nicobar

The indigenous communities have their own system of administration. There are long term settlements known as baraij and short-term settlements known as chang. The coast-dwellers (aryoto) have semi-permanent settlements and the interior groups (eremtaga) dwell on temporary settlements, which enable them to migrate during dry seasons.[7]

Economy

As of 2022, the

palm and cashew are grown on a limited scale in plantations.[81] The territory has an exclusive economic zone of more than 6 lakh sq. km, which contributes to the fishing industry. As of 2017, the region produced 27,526 tonnes of fish, mostly from marine sector with minor contribution from inland fisheries.[81]

As of 2008[update], there were 1,833 registered small-scale industries with majority being involved in engineering, woodworking and textiles apart from 21 factories.[82] District Industries Centre (DIC) is the body responsible for the development of small and medium industries in the islands.[82] Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited (ANIIDCO), established in 1988, is responsible for the development and economic growth of the islands.[82]

Tourism

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island in 2004

Tourism is one of the major contributors to the economy of the islands. The islands had more than 4 lakh visitors in 2016 with a 94% contribution from domestic tourists.

water sports are practised including kayaking, scuba diving and parasailing.[86]

Major attractions include the

Swaraj Dweep; Hudi tikri, Red, Bird and Bat islands, Amkunj beach near Rangat; Dhaninallah mangroves and Karmatang beach near Mayabunder; limestone caves and mud volcanoes near Diglipur; Craggy island and Ross & Smith islands and various national parks and protected sanctuaries.[87]

Transportation

Veer Savarkar International Airport is the only major airport in the islands

The islands are served by

Car Nicobar AFS, INS Kohassa, INS Utkrosh and INS Baaz.[91]

There are 23 ports along the islands with a major port at

light houses situated across the islands.[95]

As of 2018[update], there are 422 km (262 mi) long

national highways in the state with the major highway being the 230.7 km (143.4 mi) long NH 4 connecting Port Blair and Diglipur.[96][97]

Infrastructure

There is no single power grid connecting all the islands and independent power houses caters to the power requirements of individual islands.

power plant was established in South Andaman with Japanese assistance.[100][101] IN 2022, the government proposed additional power plants and infrastructure to be developed in Great Nicobar.[102]

4G mobile service is provided by various telecom operators in the islands.[103] Till 2020, Internet was provided through satellite links and access was limited. Bharat Broadband Network started work on laying fiber optic submarine cables connecting the islands with Chennai in December 2018.[104][105] On 10 August 2020, the undersea optical fibre cable went live, which enabled high-speed broadband connections in the islands.[106][107][108]

Education

The first primary school in the islands was established in 1881.

law college in the state, established in 2016.[113] The Andaman and Nicobar Islands Institute of Medical Sciences was established in 1963.[114]

In popular culture

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Projected

References

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External links