About Islands

HIGHLIGHTS

Area : 8,249 square kilometers.
Location : Latitude -6° to 14°North, Longitude – 92° to 94°.
Airports : Veer Savarkar International Airport, Port Blair
Administrative capital : Port Blair
Language : Major language – Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Nicobarese
Highest peak : Saddle peak – 732 meters
Climate : Temperature – 23° (minimum) and 31° (maximum).
Humidity : 70-90%M
Tribes : Onge, Jarawa, Andamanese and Sentinelese of Negroid descent; Shompen and Nicobarese of Mongoloid descent.
Forest Area : 92% protected forest; 86% reserve forest.
Currency : Indian Rupees

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the Bay of Bengal to the east of the Indian mainland, offer a truly unique and isolated experience. This group of 836 picturesque islands was once a hill range extending from Myanmar to Indonesia and is now covered in dense rain-fed forests and exotic flora and fauna. Of the 550 islands in the Andaman group, 28 are inhabited, while the smaller Nicobars have 22 main islands, 10 of which are inhabited. The Ten Degree Channel, which is 150 km wide, separates the two island groups.

Visitors to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands can explore historically significant landmarks from the freedom fighting days, such as Cellular Jail, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island, Viper Island, Hopetown, and Mount Harriet. The islands are also home to a wide variety of bird species, with 270 species and subspecies reported, 106 of which are endemic. The Andaman Wood Pigeon, Andaman Padauk, and Dugong have been declared the State Bird, State Tree, and State Animal, respectively. The islands boast of 96 Wildlife Sanctuaries, nine National Parks, and one Biosphere Reserve, making them a nature lover’s paradise.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are blessed with the bounties of both south-west and north-east monsoons, providing visitors with an excellent opportunity to explore the islands and enjoy their natural beauty.

Port Blair

Port Blair is the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India located in the Bay of Bengal. It is the largest city in the archipelago and serves as the administrative, cultural, and commercial center of the region. Port Blair is situated on the eastern coast of South Andaman Island and is connected to the mainland through air and sea links.

The city has a rich history, with its first settlement established by the British East India Company in 1789. The Cellular Jail, also known as Kala Pani, located in Port Blair, was used by the British colonial government to incarcerate Indian political prisoners during India’s struggle for independence. The jail has now been converted into a museum and a national memorial to honor the freedom fighters who suffered there.

Port Blair is also a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a unique blend of colonial history, natural beauty, and cultural diversity. Some of the must-visit attractions in the city include the Anthropological Museum, Samudrika Naval Marine Museum, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, and Ross Island, among others. The city is also known for its seafood, local handicrafts, and water sports activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and surfing.

BEST TIME TO VISIT ANDAMAN ISLANDS

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a tropical climate with a moderate temperature ranging from 23°C to 31°C throughout the year. The summer season from March to May is warm, but the sea breeze makes it pleasant. The humidity level during this season is around 80%, making it suitable for all kinds of tourist activities.

The monsoon season from May to August, and post-monsoon season from September to November, bring medium to heavy rainfall. Despite the rain, this season is recommended for a visit as tourists have more indoor and outdoor options, and the lush green vegetation and scenic beauty of the islands are more predominant. Hoteliers also offer attractive discounts during the monsoon season.

The winter season from December to February is not chilly and ideal for sightseeing. The weather during this season is pleasant, making it the best time to explore the islands. The water temperature during this season is perfect for water activities like swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling.

Overall, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a favorable climate throughout the year, making it an ideal destination for tourists.

HOW TO REACH ANDAMAN

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be reached by air and sea.

By Air: The capital city of Port Blair is connected to major Indian cities like Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore through direct flights operated by major airlines such as Air India, GoAir, SpiceJet, IndiGo, and Vistara. The Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair is the main airport of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

By Sea: Regular passenger ships operate between Chennai, Kolkata, and Visakhapatnam to Port Blair. The journey takes around 60 to 70 hours and is subject to weather conditions. There are three to four sailings every month from Kolkata, Chennai, and Visakhapatnam. The ships have different classes of accommodation, including deluxe cabins, first-class cabins, and second-class cabins.

It is recommended to book your tickets well in advance, especially during peak season, as the availability of seats can be limited.

CLIMATE AND GEOGRAPHY OF ANDAMAN

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a tropical climate, with the South-west Monsoon typically setting in towards the end of May and the North-east Monsoon in November. Unlike many other destinations, the islands don’t experience a scorching hot summer or a bone-chilling winter, nor do they suffer from water clogging or traffic jams. Visitors can enjoy boating, swimming, snorkeling, and sightseeing all year round, as every season is a good season.

For North Indians seeking relief from the burning heat and chilly winters, visiting the islands in May, June, July, or December, January is highly recommended. Nature lovers will find the period from May to December particularly enchanting, as the forests are lush green, and the waterfalls are at their prime. Meanwhile, divers can experience the best conditions from December to April, and bird watchers will have the best sightings during the winter

ANDAMAN NICOBAR TRIBES

he indigenous tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a long and complex history, with some estimates suggesting that they have inhabited the islands for up to 60,000 years. The tribes are divided into two main groups based on their physical characteristics: the Negrito tribes, who are believed to have African ancestry and include the Onge, Jarawa, and Sentinelese tribes; and the Mongoloid tribes, who are believed to have migrated to the islands from Southeast Asia and include the Nicobarese and Shompen tribes.

The tribes have traditionally lived as hunter-gatherers, moving throughout the islands to hunt game and gather fruits and other resources from the forests. They have their own distinct languages, which are largely unwritten and have not been studied in detail. Due to their isolation from the outside world, the tribes have developed unique cultural practices and traditions, including intricate body art and music.

In recent years, the tribes have faced a number of challenges, including encroachment on their land by outsiders, disease outbreaks, and forced attempts at assimilation. The Indian government has taken steps to protect the tribes and their way of life, including restricting access to certain areas of the islands and providing healthcare and other services to the tribes. Despite these efforts, however, the tribes remain vulnerable to external pressures and their future remains uncertain.

NICOBAR GROUP OF ISLANDS

The Andaman and Nicobar island groups have a long history, with the Nicobars being known since the time of Ptolemy. The inhabitants had trade relations with the outside world through copra. The islands were occupied by the Danes in 1756 and the British took possession in 1869. During World War II, the Japanese occupied the islands from 1942-45. After brief British repossession, the islands became an integral part of the Republic of India on August 15, 1947, as they were part of the old British Empire of India. Bishop John Richardson played a significant role in the modernization of Nicobarese society. After Independence, the government aimed to protect the interests of the Nicobarese by restricting entry to the islands, but settlement of non-tribals began in the late 1960s. Nicobar was declared a separate district on August 1, 1974, with its headquarters at Car Nicobar.

Traditional tribal councils govern most of the district except for three Panchayats and one Panchayat Samiti in Great Nicobar.

ANDAMAN NICOBAR HISTORY

The Andaman Islands have a long and rich history, dating back to prehistoric times. The indigenous people of the Andaman Islands are believed to have migrated from Africa over 26,000 years ago. The earliest known inhabitants of the islands were the Great Andamanese people, who lived on the islands for thousands of years until the arrival of outsiders.

The islands were first mentioned in the 7th century by the Chinese Buddhist monk I-Ching. Over the centuries, the Andaman Islands were visited by traders, explorers, and colonizers from all over the world. The islands were known for their rich natural resources, including timber, coconut, and spices.

During the British colonial period, the Andaman Islands became a place of exile for Indian political prisoners. The infamous Cellular Jail was built in 1906 to house these prisoners, and the jail is now a national monument.
During World War II, the Japanese occupied the Andaman Islands and used them as a base for their military operations in Southeast Asia. The islands were eventually liberated by the British in 1945.

Today, the Andaman Islands are a popular tourist destination known for their pristine beaches, clear waters, and rich biodiversity. The indigenous tribes of the islands, including the Jarawa and the Sentinelese, continue to live in isolation and maintain their traditional way of life.

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