Andaman and Nicobar
—  Union Territory  —
Location of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Location of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Coordinates (Port Blair): 11°41′N 92°46′E / 11.68, 92.77Coordinates: 11°41′N 92°46′E / 11.68, 92.77
Country  India
Established 1956-11-01
Capital Port Blair
Largest city Port Blair
Districts 3
 • Lt. Governor Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Bhopinder Singh
 • Total 8,250 km2 (3,190 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 379,944
 • Density 46/km2 (120/sq mi)
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
ISO 3166 code IN-AN
HDI increase0.778 (High)
Official languages Hindi, English and Tamil [2][3]

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands /ˈændəmənandˈnɪkəbɑr/ (About this sound local ) are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, and are a Union Territory of India.

The territory is 150 km (93 mi) north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thailand and 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 the territory is approximately 6,496 km2 (2,508 sq mi). The capital of Nicobar Islands is Car Nicobar.


First inhabitants[]

The 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, genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andamanese people may have been isolated from other populations since the Middle Paleolithic.[4] In 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 a Mon-Khmer language; and the Shompen, whose language is of uncertain affiliation. Both are unrelated to the Andamanese.

Pre-colonial era[]

Rajendra Chola I (1014 to 1042 CE), one of the Tamil Chola dynasty kings, occupied the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to use them as a strategic naval base to launch a naval expedition against the Sriwijaya Empire (a Hindu-Malay empire based on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia). They called the islands Tinmaittivu ("impure islands" in Tamil).[5]

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 and is credited with attaching those islands to India.[6][7]

Colonial period[]

The history of organized European colonization on the islands began when the Danish settlers of the Danish East India Company arrived in the Nicobar Islands on 12 December 1755. On January 1, 1756, the Nicobar Islands were made a Danish colony, first named New Denmark,[8] 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.[8]

From 1 June 1778 to 1784, Austria mistakenly assumed that Denmark had abandoned its claims to the Nicobar islands and attempted to establish a colony on them,[9] renaming them Theresia Islands.[8]

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.

Denmark's presence in the territory ended formally on 16 October 1868 when it sold the rights to the Nicobar Islands to Britain,[9] which made them part of British India in 1869.

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 dissenters and independence fighters 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.

World War II[]

During World War II, the islands were practically under Japanese control, only nominally under the authority of the Arzi Hukumate Azad Hind of Netaji Subhas 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.[10] 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.

Indian state[]

At the independence of both India (1947) and Burma (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 materialised. It became part of the Indian union in 1950 and was declared a union territory in 1956.[11]:33

The 2004 tsunami[]

On 26 December 2004 the coasts of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were devastated by a 10 m (33 ft) high tsunami following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. More than 2,000 people were confirmed dead, more than 4,000 children were orphaned or suffered the loss of one parent, and a minimum of 40,000 people were rendered homeless.[12] The worst affected Nicobar islands were Katchal and Indira Point; the latter subsided 4.25 m and was partially submerged in the ocean. The lighthouse at Indira Point was damaged but has been repaired since then.

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.[13]


Aerial view of the Andaman Islands

There are 572 islands in the territory having an area of 8,249 km2 (3,185 sq mi). Of these, only 38 are permanently inhabited. The islands extends 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 6,408 km2 (2,474 sq mi) while the Nicobar group has only 24 islands with an area of 1,841 km2 (711 sq mi).[11]:33

The capital of the union territory, Port Blair, is located 1,255 km (780 mi) from Kolkata, 1,200 km (750 mi) from Vishakapattnam and 1,190 km (740 mi) from Chennai.[11]:33 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 Burma. 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.


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 characterized 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:

  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


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

About 50 varieties of forest mammals are found to occur 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, Sus scrofa andamanensis from Andaman and Sus scrofa nicobaricus from Nicobar, which are protected by the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (Sch I). Saltwater crocodile is also found in abundance. The State animal of andaman is dug-ong also known as sea cow which can be found in little andaman. Around 1962 there was an attempt to introduce the leopard, which was unsuccessful because of unsuitable habitat. These were ill-considered moves as exotic introductions can cause havoc to island flora and fauna.

About 270 species of birds are found in the territory; 14 of them are endemic, the majority to the Nicobar island group. The islands' many caves are nesting grounds for the Edible-nest Swiftlet, whose nests are prized in China for bird's nest soup.[14]

The territory is home to about 225 species of butterflies and moths, including some of the larger and most spectacular 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.

The islands are well known for of prized shellfishs, especially from the genera Turbo, Trochus, Murex and Nautilus. Earliest recorded commercial exploitation began during 1929. Many cottage industries produce a range of decorative shell items. Giant clams, green mussels and oysters support edible shellfishery. The shells of scallops, clams, and cockle are burnt in kilns to produce edible lime.


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.[16] Only 10% of the population lived in Nicobar islands.

The major languages spoken in the Andamans in numerical order are Bengali (32.6%), Tamil (27.61%), Hindi (22.95%), and Telugu (14.84%). Presently there remain only approximately 400–450 indigenous Andamanese in the Andaman islands, the Jarawa and Sentinelese in particular maintaining a steadfast independence and refusing most attempts at contact. In the Nicobar islands, the indigenous people are the Nicobarese, or Nicobari, living throughout many of the islands; and the Shompen, restricted to the hinterland of Great Nicobar. More than 2,000 people belonging to the Karen tribe live in the Mayabunder tehsil of North Andaman district, almost all of whom are Christians. Despite their tribal origins, the Karen of Andamans have OBC status in the Andamans.

The majority of people of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are Hindus, with significant Christian population consisting 21.7% of the total population of the Union Territory according to the 2011 census of India. A small but significant Muslim and Sikh minorities also exist on the islands..


In 1874, the British had placed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in one administrative territory headed by a Chief Commissioner as its judicial administrator. On 1 August 1974, the Nicobar islands were hived off into another revenue district with district headquarters at Car Nicobar under a Deputy Commissioner. In 1982, the post of Lieutenant Governor was created who replaced the Chief Commissioner as the head of administration. Subsequently a "Pradesh council" with representatives of the people was constituted to advise the Lieutenant Governor.[11]

Administrative divisions[]

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands is divided into three districts. Each district is sub-divided into sub-divisions and taluks:

North and Middle Andaman

  • Headquarters: Mayabunder
  • Diglipur Sub-Division
    • Diglipur taluk
  • Mayabunder Sub-Division
    • Mayabunder taluk
    • Rangat taluk

South Andaman

  • Headquarters: Port Blair
  • Port Blair Sub-Division
    • Port Blair taluk
    • Ferrargunj taluk
  • Little Andaman Sub-Division
    • Little Andaman taluka (Hut Bay)


  • Headquarters: Car Nicobar
  • Car Nicobar Sub-Division
    • Car Nicobar taluk
  • Nancowrie Sub-Division
    • Nancowrie taluk
    • Kamorta taluk
    • Teressa taluk
    • Katchal taluk
  • Great Nicobar Sub-Division
    • Great Nicobar taluk (Campbell Bay)
    • Little Nicobar taluk


Little Andaman Island seen by Spot satellite

Ross Island a couple of days before the tsunami of December 2004.


A total of 48,675 hectares (120,300 acres) of land is used for agriculture purposes. Paddy, the main food crop, is mostly cultivated in Andaman group of islands, whereas coconut and arecanut 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 such as pepper, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon are grown under a multi-tier cropping system. Rubber, red oil, palm, noni and cashew are grown on a limited scale in these islands.


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. The Islands have become a tourist destination, due to the draw of their largely unspoiled virgin beaches and waters. [17]

Macro-economic trend[]

This is a chart of trend of gross state domestic product of Andaman and Nicobar Islands at market prices, estimated by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.[18]

Year Gross State Domestic Product (In Millions of Rupees)
1985 590
1990 1,100
1995 4,000
2000 7,750
2005 10,560
2010 16,130

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

Tourist places[]

  • Cellular Jail
  • Baratang
  • Barren Island
  • Havelock Island
  • Mount Harriot
  • North Bay Island
  • Carbyns Cove Beach

See also[]

Terrestrial globe.svg Geography
  • Effect of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on India
  • Andamanese languages
  • Nicobarese languages
  • Cocos Islands Ross Islands
  • Endemic birds of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands


  1. ^ Census of India, 2011. Census Data Online, Population.
  2. ^ "Most of Indian languages are spoken in Andaman and Nicobar Islands because of its cosmopolitan nature. The common language is Hindi whereas English and Hindi are used in official correspondence." Andaman District Administration, Profile, archived from the original on 14 May 2007,, retrieved 2007-06-06 
  3. ^ Template:Title="andhaman languages"
  4. ^ 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).
  5. ^ Government of India (1908), The Andaman and Nicobar Islands: Local Gazetteer, Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta,, "... In the great Tanjore inscription of 1050 AD, the Andamans are mentioned under a translated name along with the Nicobars, as Timaittivu, Islands of Impurity and as the abode of cannibals ..." 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c
  9. ^ a b Ramerini, Marco. "Chronology of Danish Colonial Settlements". Retrieved January 2010. 
  10. ^ "Black Days in Andaman and Nicobar Islands" by Rabin Roychowdhury, [Pub. Manas] Pubs. New Delhi
  11. ^ a b c d Planning Commission of India (2008). Andaman and Nicobar Islands Development Report. State Development Report series (illustrated ed.). Academic Foundation. ISBN 81-7188-652-3. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  12. ^ Carl Strand and John Masek, ed (2007). Sumatra-Andaman Islands Earthquake and Tsunami of December 6, 2004: Lifeline Performance. Reston, VA: ASCE, Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering. ISBN 9780784409510. 
  13. ^ "Tsunami folklore 'saved islanders'". BBC News. 20 January 2005. Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  14. ^ R. Sankaran (1999), The impact of nest collection on the Edible-nest Swiftlet in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Sálim Ali Centre for Orithology and Natural History,Coimbatore, India.
  15. ^ "Census Population" (PDF). Census of India. Ministry of Finance India. Archived from the original on 19 December 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  16. ^ "Census of India". Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  17. ^ "Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Unexplored Beauty of India". The Indian Backpacker. December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  18. ^

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