The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the east of the Indian mainland geographically, float in splendid isolation in the Bay of Bengal. Once a hill range extending form Myanmar to Indonesia, these picturesque undulating islands, islets, numbering around 572, are covered with forests and endless varieties of exotic flora and fauna. Underwater marine life, coral, crystal clear water and mangrove-lined creeks offer a rare view of the precious bounties of nature. Sandy beaches here are the natural choice for turtles to nest. Around 86% of the area is still covered by dense forests with innumerable species of orchids, ferns, exotic flowers and also home to many endemic birds. The wild life includes spotted deer, wild boar, gecko and crab-eating macaque and python in the southern Islands.
The islands lie along an arc in long and narrow broken chain, approximately north-south over a distance of nearly 800 kms. These islands are still virgin in the sense of natural beauty with unpolluted environs, unexplored coral life, commanding a rarity in contrast to other Islands in the Indian Ocean.
The Andaman & Nicobar Islands have been inhabited for several thousands years, at the very least. The earlier 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 – 60,000 years, well into the Middle Paleolithic. In the Andaman Islands, the various Andamanese people maintained their separatedexistence 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 Andamans were: the Great Andamanese, who collectively represented at least 10 distinct sub groups and languages; the Jarawa: the jungle (or Rutland Jarawa); the Onge; and the Sentinelese (the most isolated of all the groups). The indigenous peoples of the Nicobars (unrelated to the Andamanese) have a similarly isolated and lengthy association with the Islands. There are two main groups: the Nicobarese, or Nicobari living throughout many of the Islands; and the Shompen, restricted to the interior of Great Nicobar.
Climate & Geography
The Islands have a tropical climate. The South West Monsoon sets in Andaman Nicobar Islands towards the end of May and the North East Monsoon in November. There is no fury of hot summer, no chilling winter, no water clogging or traffic jams. For those who want to enjoy boating, swimming, snorkeling, sight seeing all 12 months is season. North Indians find relief from burning heat and chilling winter if they visit the Island from May/June/July and in December/January. Season for nature lovers is May to December when forest is lush green and water falls are at their prime. Divers can enjoy the best during December to April and bird watchers during winter times. Among 572 islands of the territory, 38 are permanently inhabited.
Most of the islands (about 550) are in the Andaman Group, 28 of which are inhabited. The smaller Nicobars, comprise some 22 main islands (10 inhabited). The Andaman & Nicobar are separated by the Ten Degree Channel which is 150 Kms. wide.