|Largest city||Port Blair|
|Lt. Governor||Lieutenant General Bhopinder Singh|
• 43 /km2 (111 /sq mi)
|Official languages||Malayalam, Nicobarese, Bengali, English, Hindi, Tamil|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+05:30)|
|Area||8250 km2 (3185 sq mi)|
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands ( pronunciation (help·info)); (Bengali: আন্দামান ও নিকোবর দ্বীপপুঞ্জ; Tamil: அந்தமான் நிக்கோபார் தீவுகள், Hindi: अंडमान और निकोबार द्वीपसमूह, Malayalam: ആന്തമാന് നിക്കോബാര് ദ്വീപുകള് ) are a group of islands in the Indian Ocean and a Union Territory of The Republic of India.
The territory is located in the Indian Ocean, and geographically is considered part of Southeast Asia. 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 territory's population as per the most recent (2001) Census of India was 356,152. Added together, the total land area of the territory is approximately 6,496 km² or 2,508 sq mi.
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 people of the Andamans were:
In total, these people numbered somewhere around 7,000 at the time of these first encounters. As the numbers of settlers from the mainland increased (at first mostly prisoners and involuntary indentured labourers, later purposely recruited farmers), these indigenous people lost territory and numbers in the face of punitive expeditions by British troops, land encroachment and the effects of various epidemic diseases. The Jangil and most of the Great Andamanese groups soon became extinct; presently there remain only approximately 400–450 indigenous Andamanese, the Jarawa and Sentinelese in particular maintaining a steadfast independence and refusing most attempts at contact.
The indigenous people of the Nicobars (unrelated to the Andamanese) have a similarly isolated and lengthy association with the islands. There are two main groups:
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.
After an initial attempt to set up a colony in the islands by the British was abandoned after only a few years (1789–1796), a second attempt from 1858 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 British used the islands as an isolated prison for members of the Indian independence movement. The mode of imprisonment was called Kala pani. The Cellular Jail in Port Blair was regarded as the "Siberia" of British India.
The islands were administered as a Chief Commissioner's Province.
The British continued their occupancy until the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Andaman Islands during World War II.
The islands were nominally put under the authority of the Arzi Hukumate Azad Hind of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Netaji visited the islands during the war, and renamed them as "Shaheed" (Martyr) & "Swaraj" (Self-rule). 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 of 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 116 Indian Infantry Brigade on 7 October 1945, to whom the remaining Japanese garrison surrendered.
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 materialized. It became an Indian union territory (UT) in 1950.
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 5,930 people were believed to have been killed on the Nicobar and Andaman Islands during the disaster. One of the worst affected island was Katchal and Indira Point, the southernmost point of India, which was submerged by the ocean.
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.
There are 572 islands in the territory, of which only approximately 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 highest point is located in North Andaman Island (Saddle Peak at 732 metres (2,402 ft)).
The total area of the Andaman Islands is some 6,408 km2 (2,474 sq mi); that of the Nicobar Islands approximately 1,841 km2 (711 sq mi).
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 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:
Andaman Forest abounds in a plethora of timber species numbering 200 or more, out of which about 30 varieties are considered to be commercial. Major commercial timber species are Gurjan (Dipterocarpus spp.) and Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides). The following ornamental woods are noted for their pronounced grain formation:
Padauk being sturdier than teak is widely used for furniture making.
There are burr wood and buttress formations in Andaman Padauk. The largest piece of buttress known from Andaman was a dining table of 13' x 7'. The largest piece of burr was again a dining table to seat eight persons at a time.
The holy Rudraksha (Elaeocarps sphaericus) and aromatic Dhoop/Resin trees also are found here.
These islands because some like turbo, trochus & nautilus etc. are used as novelties supporting many cottage industries producing a wide range of decorative items & ornaments. Shells such as giant clam, green mussel and oyster support edible shellfishery, a few like scallop, clam, and cockle are burnt in kilns to produce edible lime.
|Source:Census of India|
The major languages spoken in the Andamans in numerical order are Bengali (25.95%), Hindi (18.4%), Urdu (14.2%), Tamil including Sri Lankan Tamils (17.84%), Nicobarese and Telugu (12.93%). Other languages include Malayalam and English.  The majority of Andamans are Hindus and Muslims, but there are significant Christian and Sikh minorities.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands are divided into 3 administrative districts. Each district is further divided into Sub-Divisions and taluks.
Headquarters: Port Blair
Sub-Divisions & Taluks:
Headquarters: Car Nicobar
Sub-Divisions & Taluks:
A total of 48,675 hectares of land is used for agriculture purposes. Paddy, the main food crop, is mostly cultivated in Andaman group of islands, whereas coconut and areca nut 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, viz., pepper, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon are grown under multi-tier cropping system. Rubber, red oil, palm 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.
This is a chart of trend of gross state domestic product of Andaman and Nicobar Islands at market prices estimated by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.
|Year||Gross State Domestic Product|
Andaman and Nicobar Islands' gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $354 million in current prices.
||This article contains Indic text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks or boxes, misplaced vowels or missing conjuncts instead of Indic text.|
Andaman and Nicobar  are a large group of nearly 600 islands in the Bay of Bengal. Though they are a part of India, geographically, they are closer to Myanmar and Thailand than to the Indian mainland. They are grouped here with Southern India. They were just north of the epicenter of the "Boxing Day" quake of 2004, and were the site of dozens of aftershocks. The Nicobars were badly hit the by the resulting tsunami, while the Andamans escaped with a few bruises. With the exception of Little Andaman Island and the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, the rest of the tourist destinations are back up to speed.
Andaman and Nicobar islands are located in the Bay of Bengal. These islands are one of the few amazing islands in world, which has lots of hidden natural beauty on land as well as in deep sea also. Best time to explore the deep sea beauty in Andaman and Nicobar is from October to May. Water is clear at these beaches, which gives a very good visibility.
1400 km from mainland India and 1000 km from Thailand, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are one of the more remote spots on the planet. The original inhabitants are a bunch of aboriginal tribes who exist more or less out of the mainstream. There are some tribes who have had no contact whatsoever with the rest of the world. Of nearly 600 islands, only 9 are open to foreign tourists, and all of these are in the Andamans.
The islands exist in India's popular consciousness mainly because they were used as a penal colony by the British rulers to imprison rebels and freedom fighters, in addition to hardened criminals. Most of the inhabitants of these islands are in fact migrants from the mainland, some of them being descended from the prisoners.
During World War II, the Andamans were the only part of India briefly occupied by the Japanese. While notionally handed over to Subhash Chandra Bose's Free India, in practice the Japanese held the reins of power. The territory was run brutally — suspected resistance members were tortured and executed, and when food started to run out towards the end of the war, people were deported to uninhabited islands to fend for themselves as best they could.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands stretch out almost 500 km in length, with the Andamans in the north and the Nicobars in the south. The main island, aptly known as Great Andaman, is divided into 3 portions - North Andaman, Middle Andaman and South Andaman. Port Blair is located on South Andaman.
Non-Indians need a Restricted Area Permit to visit the islands, but these are now issued on arrival at the Port Blair airport. (If you plan to arrive by sea, you'll need to arrange your permit before arrival, either in Chennai or when applying for your Indian visa.) Visitors usually receive a 30 day permit, although some travellers arriving without a confirmed flight back have only received a 15 day permit. Ask for the full 30 days in your application; if you write in your return flight date, your permit will be issued to end on that date, which will cause unnecessary pain if you choose to extend your stay or, worse yet, get unexpectedly delayed by weather.
Permits can be extended by 15 days in Port Blair, for a maximum single stay of 45 days, although this extension is granted only in, to quote the local police guidelines, "deserving cases". You must then leave the islands and can return after 72 hours. The permit is checked when arriving at most islands, checking into hotels and booking ferries, and must be surrendered when you leave the islands, so don't lose it!
The permit allows overnight stays in the following locations: South Andaman Island, Middle Andaman Island and Little Andaman Island (except tribal reserves), Neil Island, Havelock Island, Long Island, Diglipur, Baratang, North Passage and islands in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (excluding Boat Hobday Island, Twin Island, Tarmugli Island, Malay Island and Pluto Island). Overnight stays in the Park are with permission only.
The permit allows for day-trips to: South Cinque Island, Ross Island, Narcondum Island, Interview Island, Brother Island, Sister Island and Barren Island (Barren Island can be visited on board vessels only, no landing is possible).
Indian nationals do not require a permit to visit the Andamans. However, permits are required to visit Nicobar Islands and other tribal areas, which are rarely given. Application on a prescribed form may be addressed to the Deputy Commissioner, Andaman District, Port Blair.
For now the only way to reach the Andamans by air is from the Indian mainland to Port Blair. There are talks of opening up flights from Bangkok, which could drastically change the situation in the islands, but as of 2009 these remain just plans. Flights can fill up in peak season and immigration doesn't look kindly on people arriving without confirmed flights back, so book a return ticket and change the flight date if you decide to hang around longer.
Flights to Port Blair are not really "low-cost", if compared to the same airlines' mainland India flights, but still cheaper than any other way to get to islands. Price varies significantly with date, so if your travel dates aren't fixed, you can save significantly by choosing the right day to fly. Advance booking (available on respective airline's website) at least several days before trip is recommended.
Port Blair's Vir Sarvarkar Airport is probably one of the most quaint and idyllic airport in India. There is a scenic view point where the whole airport can be seen. There are no night flights as the airport is handed over to the Indian Air Force after 3pm.
It is still possible to take a ship from Kolkata, Chennai or Visakhapatnam which takes almost 4 days to arrive in Port Blair. However, with the arrival of the Kingfisher Red flights that allow foreigners to fly for the same rate as Indians, and cost about the same as the boat, there is little reason to spend 4 days at sea unless you're in it for the experience. Apparently at the same time of the new flights arriving the ship operators stopped letting foreigners into the most basic budget class, which would actually make this more expensive than flying. Facilities are basic and, in a bizarre incident in 2003, an Israeli tourist was stabbed to death by the ship's cook.
Andaman and Nicobar are a vast archipelago, and aside from some erratic, infrequent and expensive helicopter shuttles, passenger ferries are the only way to get between the islands.
All passenger transport in the islands is handled by the government-run Directorate of Shipping Services (DSS), which also runs the ferries back to the mainland. The DSS operates basically two kinds of vessels: small "tourist" ferries, and larger "local" ferries. Despite the names, fares are more or less identical on both, at Rs.150-200 one way from Port Blair to Havelock Island.
Tourist ferries seat about 100 people in padded bucket seats in a notionally air-conditioned cabin (which can still get sweltering hot). While you can access the top deck, there are no seats, shade or shelter outside. These boats are fast(er) and seaworthy, but top-heavy, and sway quite a bit in high seas. There is no canteen on board, so bring snacks or at least drinks.
Local ferries are considerably larger, seating up to 400 in two levels: padded "bunk" or "luxury" seating upstairs, and plain old benches on the "deck" downstairs. Neither class is air-conditioned, but ocean breezes keep temperatures tolerable, and a canteen dishes out chai, samosas and bottled water. Due to their larger size, they're more stable in heavy seas, but take about twice as long as tourist ferries to get anywhere.
There's a new a/c catamaran ferry from Port Blair to Havelock. Tickets are 600, 700 or 1000 (which gets you a leather seat and your own tv) and can be booked from a dedicated ticket booking window at Port Blair, thus avoiding the queue barging, and through your guesthouse (or wild orchid, emerald gecko & andaman bubbles) on Havelock.
In high season demand often exceeds supply, so book your tickets at least one day in advance, either through a travel agent or directly at Port Blair's harbour. Ferry ticket booking has now been computerised. This means you can book any ferry from any jetty - i.e. Rangat to Havelock from the Diglipur ferry jetty. This obviously depends on the computers working! Services may be changed or cancelled at short notice due to inclement weather, notably cyclones in the Bay of Bengal. If you're prone to sea-sickness, pop a pill an hour before you get on board.
The only place with historical attractions of note is Port Blair, which houses both British-era colonial buildings, including the notorious Cellular Jail, and a few World War II bunkers dating from the brief Japanese occupation.
Neil Island: It is an amazing beautiful island with lush green forests and sandy beaches. This island is located at a distance of around 36 kms from the Port Blair. This is a perfect outing and holiday destination for the Eco-tourists.
Seafood is the order of the day. From upscale restaurants in Port Blair to local dhabas on Havelock, fish abounds. Be prepared to pay a little more for good fish and seafood dishes than for standard indian food, but it's well worth it. Basic Indian food is also available, and as cheap as on the mainland in most of the small dhabas. Resort restaurants on Havelock can also whip up a limited set of more or less Western dishes, but the resort restaurants are pretty expensive for Indian standards.
There are a variety of hotels around the islands which are run by Andaman & Nicobar Tourism. You can book all A&N tourism hotels both in person at A&N tourism in Port Blair, by phone on 03192 232694, or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours are 0830-1100,1400-1500.
The Andamans are a fairly safe destination. Tourism is still in its early stages which makes it almost hassle free. That said, you should keep your wits about you as you would anywhere.
The Andaman Islands are the home of some of the last uncontacted tribes of Eurasia. These tribes have resisted modernization for some time. An example of these tribes is the Sentinelese tribe, who inhabit North Sentinel Island. They maintain their sovereignty over the island and are hostile towards outsiders. However, as a tourist, you will go nowhere near them, so this is not really an issue.
The Andaman Islands are home to a population of Saltwater Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), which can grow up to 30 feet in length (although rarely more than 16 feet, the biggest on record being 28.7 feet long). While they are of course capable of attacking humans it is extremely rare to find these reptiles anywhere near a public beach as they prefer mangrove river systems, although they are very common on beaches within close proximity to river mouths and estuaries. That being said, don't expect anything near population sizes you'd experience in Australia or New Guinea.
Andaman and Nicobar are malarial, although generally no more so than mainland India.
The Indian country code applies here (91) and the area code for the entire Andamans is (3192). So, from outside India, you dial +913192xxxxxx. Within India, you dial 03192xxxxxx.
Mobile phone coverage nominally exists on many islands, but the coverage is poor and dropped signals are the norm. State owned BSNL, and private operators Airtel and Vodafone-Essar are the operators providing mobile services there. Landlines are frequent in Port Blair, but more erratic as you move around the islands.
Internet access is slow but tolerable in Port Blair, and glacially slow and unreliable anywhere else. Don't count on being able to do anything more than check your mails, if even that.
Tourism is still relatively new on the Andamans and as such the traveler has a special responsibility in guiding its developement. Leave the bikinis on the beach, and even then use discretion. Remember that this is India and local women are very conservative in their attire. Alcohol should be consumed on the premises of your hotel. The quiet and peacefulness of the islands are one of its best assets... help to maintain these. This is emphatically not Goa, and any attempt to turn it into that would be absolutely shameful.
|This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!|