Updated: Feb 15
Location of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India
• Total8,249 km2 (3,185 sq mi)Area rank28thPopulation
• Total380,520 • Density46/km2 (120/sq mi)Languages
• OfficialHindi, English • SpokenBengali, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Nicobarese, Kurukh, Munda, KhariaTime zoneUTC+05:30 (IST)ISO 3166 codeIN-ANHDI(2018)0.739 (High) • 6thWebsitewww.andaman.gov.inSymbols of Andaman and Nicobar IslandsEmblemEmblem of Andaman and Nicobar IslandsMottoSatyameva Jayate
The territory is about 150 km (93 mi) north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thailand and Myanmar by the Andaman Sea. It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islands (partly) and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 150 km wide Ten Degree Channel (on the 10°N parallel), with the Andaman islands to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobar islands to the south (or by 179 km). The Andaman Sea lies to the east and the Bay of Bengal to the west.
The territory's capital is the city of Port Blair. The total land area of the islands is approximately 8,249 km2 (3,185 sq mi). The territory is divided into three districts: the Nicobar District with Car Nicobar as its capital, the South Andaman district with Port Blair as its capital and the North and Middle Andaman district with Mayabunder as its capital.
The Andaman Islands are also home to the Sentinelese people, an uncontacted tribe. The Sentinelese might be the only people currently known to not have reached further than a Paleolithic level of technology, however, this is disputed, as evidence of metalwork was found on their island.
The earliest archaeological evidence documents some 2,200 years. However, genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andamanese people may have been isolated from other populations during the Middle Paleolithic, which ended 30,000 years ago. Since that time, the Andamanese have diversified into linguistically and culturally distinct, territorial groups.
The Nicobar Islands appear to have been populated by people of various backgrounds. By the time of European contact, the indigenous inhabitants had coalesced into the Nicobarese people, speaking a Austroasiatic language, and the Shompen, whose language is of uncertain affiliation. Neither language is related to Andamanese.
Chola empire period
Rajendra Chola I (1014–1042 CE), used the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a strategic naval base to launch an expedition against the Srivijaya Empire (modern-day Indonesia). The Cholas called the island Ma-Nakkavaram ("great open/naked land"), found in the Thanjavur inscription of 1050 CE. European traveller Marco Polo (12th–13th century) also referred to this island as 'Necuverann' and a corrupted form of the Tamil name Nakkavaram would have led to the modern name Nicobar during the British colonial period.
Danish colonial period and British rule
Andaman tribals fishing (c. 1870)
The history of organised European colonisation on the islands began when settlers from the Danish East India Company arrived in the Nicobar Islands on 12 December 1755. On 1 January 1756, the Nicobar Islands were made a Danish colony, first named New Denmark, and later (December 1756) Frederick's Islands (Frederiksøerne). During 1754–1756 they were administrated from Tranquebar (in continental Danish India). The islands were repeatedly abandoned due to outbreaks of malaria between 14 April 1759 and 19 August 1768, from 1787 to 1807/05, 1814 to 1831, 1830 to 1834 and gradually from 1848 for good.
In 1789 the British set up a naval base and penal colony on Chatham Island next to Great Andaman, where now lies the town of Port Blair. Two years later the colony was moved to Port Cornwallis on Great Andaman, but it was abandoned in 1796 due to disease.
In 1858 the British again established a colony at Port Blair, which proved to be more permanent. The primary purpose was to set up a penal colony for criminal convicts from the Indian subcontinent. The colony came to include the infamous Cellular Jail.
In 1872 the Andaman and Nicobar islands were united under a single chief commissioner at Port Blair.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a tropical rainforest canopy, made of a mixed flora with elements from Indian, Myanmar, 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 forests 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:
Giant evergreen forest
Andamans tropical evergreen forest
Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest
Wet bamboo brakes
Andamans semi-evergreen forest
Andamans moist deciduous forest
Andamans secondary moist deciduous forest
Brackish water mixed forest
1901 24,649 —
1911 26,4597 .3%
1921 27,0862 .4%
1931 29,4638 .8%
1941 33,76814 .6%
1951 30,971 −8.3%
1961 63,548105 .2%
1971 115,13381 .2%
1981 188,74163 .9%
1991 280,66148 .7%
2001 356,15226 .9%
2011 380,5816 .9%