Facts About Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Know Your States)

Coral Reefs: Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Source: Wikimedia)
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, one of the seven union territories of India. It is a group of islands at the point of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

There are two main island groups: the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10°N parallel, with Andamans to the north and Nicobar to the south.

Port Blair is the Capital and largest city of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Car Nicobar is the administrative centre of Nicobar Island group. There is only one representative (MP) in Loksabha from the Island group.

The Andamans is home to Sentinelese People. The only group of people who never technologically developed after the Paleolithic age.

They are notoriously known as Kalapani because of British penal colony in Port Blair islands.

Quick Facts
Officially Established: 1 November 1956
Capital: Port Blair
No. of Districts: 3
Area: 8250 Km²
Population:    380520 (2012)
Area Rank:    28
Density: 46/Km²
Official Language: Hindi, English
Other Languages: Nicobarese, Tamil, Malayalam, Telegu, Marathi, Odia
State Animal: Dugong (Sea Cow)
State Bird: The Andaman Wood Pigeon
State Tree: Andaman Paduk
State Flower: Andaman Pyinma (Proposed)

History
The earliest cultural and genetic records suggest that Andamanese people isolated from the world by the Middle Paleolithic age, around 30000 years ago. Since then, they have developed their unique linguistic and cultural identity.

Rajendra Chola I used the Nicobar Islands as his naval base and named the island as Ma-Nakkavaram (Great Open/Naked Island).

Marco Polo also referred to these islands as Necuverran, a corrupt form of its Tamil name, and thanks to further corruption by British Colonials, we got its present name, Nicobar.

Danish were the first Europeans arrived on the Nicobar Islands on 12 December 1755.

On 1 January 1756, Nicobar Islands become first Danish colony in India. They first named it New Denmark and later, Frederick's Island. They controlled it from Tranquebar.

On 1 June 1778 to 1784, Austria assumed the Nicobar Islands as abandoned, and claimed the island to establish a colony. During this time, they renamed the islands as Theresia Islands.

In 1789, British setup a naval base and penal colony on Chatham Islands (now, part of Port Blair).

In 1868, Denmark sold the rights of Nicobar Island to Britain.

In 1872, Andaman and Nicobar Islands were united under a single Cheif Commissioner.

During World War II, the islands were under Japanese control, under the authority of Azad Hind Fauj (Free India Army) of Subhash Chandra Bose. They renamed the islands as Saheed Dweep and Swaraj Dweep.

After the loss of Japan in World War II, the islands were reoccupied by British on 7 October 1945.

In 1950, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands officially became part of Union of India. In 1956, the Government of India gave the islands, Union Territory status.

Geography
Andaman and Nicobar Islands comprise of 572 islands with the total area cover of 8250 Km². The islands extend from 6° to 14° North latitudes and from 92° to 94° East longitudes. Two groups of islands are separated by 10° line. The Andaman group comprises of 325 islands and Nicobar group comprises of 247 islands.

Indira Point is the southernmost point of the southernmost tip of the island group.

Barren Island (Andaman Islands) is the only active volcano in India. It last erupted in 2017.

Saddle Peak at a height of 732 meters above sea level is the highest point in these islands.

Flora and Fauna
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are home to more than 2200 species of plants. Out of which, 200 are endemic to the Islands. Andaman Paduk is the state tree of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Similarly, Island Group is home to more than 50 forest mammals and 270 bird species. The dugong is the state animal of the Islands.

According to official data, the present forest coverage of the Islands is 86.2%.

There are 96 wildlife sanctuaries, 9 national parks and 1 biosphere reserve in these islands.

Languages
Hindi and English are the official languages of the union territory, with Bengali as the most spoken language. The other languages are Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, Nicobarese, Kurukh, Munda and Kharia, and Andamanese Creole Hindi.

Economy
Tourism and Agriculture are two driving forces of islands' economy. Timbering can be said third major economic driver.

Chriya Tapu (Bird Island) is the major attraction for the Birdwatchers. Havelock Island is known for coral reefs.