Knowledge Corner

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, one of the seven union territories of India, are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

The territory is 150 km (93 mi) north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) by the Andaman Sea. It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10°N parallel, with the Andamans to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobars to the south. The Andaman Sea lies to the east and the Bay of Bengal to the west.

The territory’s capital is the Andamanese town of Port Blair. The total land area of these islands is approximately 8,249 km2 (3,185 sq mi). The capital of Nicobar Islands is Car Nicobar. The islands host the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only tri-service geographical command of the Indian Armed Forces.

The Andaman Islands are home to the only known Paleolithic people, the Sentinelese people, who have no contact with any other people.

History

First inhabitants

The earliest archaeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years. However, genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andamanese people may have been isolated from other populations since some time during the Middle Paleolithic, which ended 30,000 years ago. Since that time, the Andamanese have diversified into distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups.

The Nicobar Islands appear to have been populated by people of various backgrounds. At the time of the European contact, the indigenous inhabitants were the Nicobarese people, speaking aMon-Khmer language; and the Shompen, whose language is of uncertain affiliation. Both are unrelated to the Andamanese, but being closely related to the Myanmarese.

Chola empire period

Rajendra Chola I (1014 to 1042 CE), one of the Tamil Chola dynasty kings, conquered the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to use them as a strategic naval base to launch a naval expedition against the Sriwijaya Empire (a Buddhist empire based in the island of Sumatra, Indonesia). They called the islands Tinmaittivu (“impure islands” in Tamil).

Maratha empire

The islands also provided a temporary maritime base for ships of the Maratha Empire in the 17th century. The Maratha navy’s admiral Kanhoji Angre established naval supremacy with a base in the islands and is credited with attaching those islands to India.

World War II

Main article: Japanese occupation of the Andaman Islands

During World War II, the islands were practically under Japanese control, only nominally under the authority of the Arzi Hukumate Azad Hind of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Bose visited the islands during the war, and renamed them as “Shaheed-dweep” (Martyr Island) and “Swaraj-dweep” (Self-rule Island).

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 in 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 116th Indian Infantry Brigade on 7 October 1945, to whom the remaining Japanese garrison surrendered.

Geography

There are 349 islands in the territory having an area of 8,249 km2 (3,185 sq mi). Of these, about 38 are permanently inhabited. The islands extend from 6° to 14° North latitudes and from 92° to 94° East longitudes. The Andamans are separated from the Nicobar group by a channel (the Ten Degree Channel) some 150 km (93 mi) wide. The highest point is located in North Andaman Island (Saddle Peak at 732 m (2,402 ft)). The Andaman group has 325 islands which cover an area of 6,170 km2 (2,382 sq mi) while the Nicobar group has only 24 islands with an area of 1,765 km2 (681 sq mi).

The capital of the union territory, Port Blair, is located 1,255 km (780 mi) from Kolkata, 1,200 km (750 mi) from Visakhapatnam and 1,190 km (740 mi) from Chennai. The northernmost point of the Andaman and Nicobars group is 901 km (560 mi) away from the mouth of the Hooghly River and 190 km (120 mi) from Myanmar. Indira Point at 6°45’10″N and 93°49’36″E at the southern tip of the southernmost island, Great Nicobar, is the southernmost point of India and lies only 150 km (93 mi) from Sumatra in Indonesia. The only volcano in India, Barren Island is located in Andaman and Nicobar.

Demographics

As of 2011 Census of India, the population of the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands was 379,944, of which 202,330 (53.25%) were male and 177,614 (46.75) were female. The sex ratio was 878 females per 1,000 males. Only 10% of the population lived in Nicobar islands.

The areas and populations (at the 2001 and 2011 Censuses) of the three districts are:

Name Area (km2) Population
Census 2001
Population
Census 2011
Capital
Nicobar Islands 1,765 42,068 36,842 Car Nicobar
North and Middle Andaman 3,536 105,613 105,597 Mayabunder
South Andaman 2,640 208,471 238,142 Port Blair
Totals 7,950 356,152 380,581

Hindi and English are the official languages of the islands. Bengali is the dominant and most spoken language, with 26% of the population speaking Bengali. The other major languages spoken in the islands are Hindi (18.23%), Tamil(17.68%), Telugu (12.81%), Malayalam (8.11%) and Nicobarese (8.05%) according to 2001 Census of India. Other minor spoken languages are Kurukh/Oraon, Munda and Kharia. Andaman Creole Hindi is widely used as a trade language in the Andamans.

Skill Test

1. Which foreign country is closest to Andaman Islands?

2. How many Loksabha seats are present in from the Island state?

3. What is the total Area of the Island state?

4. Which is the last point of the Island State known as?

5. On what date was the Island state established?

6. Which was the former capital of the Islands

7. Which is the major business for the Island state?

8. How many districts are present in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands?

9. One Islands does the Negrito tribed called 'the Onge' Live?

10. Which is the largest city of the Islands?

11. Which is the Judiciary capital of the State?

12. What is the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands?

13. Which is the state bird of Andaman and Nicobar Islands?

14. State Animal of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

15. The early Tsunami warning system that can alert in 3 minutes is installed where in the island?

16. In which year Andaman and Nicobar Island state was formed?