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Andaman Nicobar Islands

Andaman Nicobar Islands Andaman Nicobar Islands
Capital : Port Blair
Largest city : Port Blair
District(s) : 2
Population : 356,1521
Density : 43/km² (111/sq mi)
Language(s) : Nicobarese, Bengali, English, Hindi,Tamil, Malayalam, Punjabi,Telugu
Established : 1956-11-01

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a union territory of India. Informally, the territory's name is often abbreviated to A & N Islands, or ANI. It is located in the Indian Ocean, in the southern reaches of the Bay of Bengal. It comprises two island groups - the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands - which separate the Andaman Sea to the east from the Indian Ocean.

The name Andaman presumably comes from Hanuman, who is a powerful Hindu god Hanuman. The name Nicobar is Malay for land of the people.

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 peoples of the Andamans were:

Cellular Jail Cellular Jail
The Great Andamanese, who collectively represented at least 10 different sub-groups and languages: The Jangil (or Rutland Jarawa), The Onge, The Jarawa and The Sentinelese (most isolated of all the groups).

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 earthquake. At least 7,000 people (possibly a conservative estimate) were believed to have been killed on the Nicobar and Andaman Islands during the disaster.

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

There are over 572 islands in the territory, of which only some 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 6,408 square kms and that of the Nicobar Islands approximately 1,841 km².

Andaman & Nicobar Islands are blessed with a unique evergreen tropical rainforest canopy, sheltering a mixed germ plasm bank, comprising of Indian, Myanmarese, Malaysian and endemic floral strain. So far, about 2200 varieties of plants have been recorded, out of which 200 are endemic and 1300 do not occur in mainland India.

The South Andaman forests have a abundant growth of epiphytic plants, mostly ferns and orchids. The Middle Andamans harbours mostly moist deciduous forests. North Andamans is characterised by the wet evergreen type, with a lot 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.

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

This tropical rain forest despite its isolation from adjacent land masses is surprisingly rich with a diverse animal life.

Honeymoon, A & N Islands Honeymoon, A & N Islands
About 50 varieties of forest mammals have been found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Some are endemic, including the Andaman Wild Boar. Rodents are the largest group with 26 species, followed by 14 species of bat. Among the larger mammals there are two endemic varieties of wild boar from Nicobar, which are protected by the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (Sch I). The Spotted Deer Axis axis, Barking Deer and Sambar were all introduced to the Andaman District, though the Sambar did not survive. Interview island (the largest wildlife sanctuary in the ANI) in Middle Andaman holds a population of feral elephants. These elephants were brought in for forest work by a timber company, which subsequently released them when it went bankrupt. This population has been subject to research studies.

ANI has also 270 species of birds (including endemics); the Nicobar island group has a higher endemicity than the Andamans and there are a total of 14 species endemic to ANI. The State Bird of the Andamans is the Andaman Wood pigeon. Some endemic birds of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are: Andaman Hawk Owl, Andaman Scops Owl, Andaman Crake, Brown Coucal.

Butterflies and Moths
With about 225 species, the A&N Islands house some of the larger and most spectacular butterflies of the world. Ten species are endemic to these Islands. Mount Harriet National Park is one of the richest areas of butterfly and moth diversity on these Islands.

Shells are perhaps the most colourful and fascinating objects known to man other than Gems since time immemorial. They served as money, ornaments, musical instruments, drinking cups, in magic and in the making of fine porcelains. They were also the symbols in rituals and religious observances, and the returning pilgrims wore them as a token of divine pardon.

The Univalve or one shell group belongs to the class Gastropoda having more than 80,000 species.

The Bivalve or Pelecypoda has about 20,000 living species. Majority of then burrows in sand or mud such as Pearl Oyster, Wing oyster, Giant clam etc.
A third group, which is comparatively smaller, is called Cephalopoda, which includes Octopus, Squid, Nautilus etc.