The Andaman and Nicobar Islands is one of the seven union territories of India, are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. There are 572 islands in the territory having an area of 7,950 km2 (3,070 sq mi). Of these, about 34 are permanently inhabited. The islands extend 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 6,170 km2 (2,382 sq mi) while the Nicobar group has only 24 islands with an area of 1,765 km2 (681 sq mi).
The territory is 150 km (93 mi) north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thailand and Myanmar (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 capital of the union territory, Port Blair, is located 1,255 km (780 mi) from Kolkata, 1,200 km (750 mi) from Visakhapatnam and 1,190 km (740 mi) from Chennai. The total land area of these islands is approximately 7,950 km2 (3,070 sq mi). The capital of Nicobar Islands is Car Nicobar. The islands host the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only tri-service geographical command of the Indian Armed Forces.
The Andaman Islands are home to the only known Paleolithic people, the Sentinelese people, who have no contact with any other people.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a tropical rainforest canopy, made of a mixed flora with elements from Indian, Myanmar, 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:
Giant evergreen forest
Andamans tropical evergreen forest
Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest
Wet bamboo brakes
Andamans semi-evergreen forest
Andamans moist deciduous forest
Andamans secondary moist deciduous forest
Brackish water mixed 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 the dugong, also known as the 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.
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 prized shellfish, 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.
There are 96 wildlife sanctuaries, 9 National Parks and 1 Biosphere Reserve in these islands.
Languages of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands :
Hindi and English are the official languages of the islands. Bengali is the dominant and most spoken language, with 26% of the population speaking Bengali. The other major languages spoken in the islands are Hindi (18.23%), Tamil (17.68%), Telugu (12.81%), Malayalam (8.11%) and Nicobarese (8.05%) according to 2001 Census of India.Other minor spoken languages are Kurukh/Oraon, Munda and Kharia. Andaman Creole Hindi is widely used as a trade language in the Andamans.
There remain 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 Other Backward Class (OBC) status in the Andamans.
The majority of schools and educational institutions are available in Bengali language, Tamil and Telugu languages are used in few institutions.
Religion in Andaman and Nicobar Islands :
The majority of people of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are Hindus (69.44%), with Christians forming a large minority of 21.7% of the population, according to the 2011 census of India. There are small but significant Muslim (8.51%) and Sikh minorities
How to Reach Andamans ?
By Air :
As the island is known world-wide for its serenity and beauty therefore it attracts people in large numbers. Reaching to Andaman and Nicobar is not a problem as there are regular flights for the island. One can easily travel to Andaman and Nicobar Island by air and this is the mode of transport to get to the Island. Several aviation companies like Jet Airways, Air Deccan, Indian Airlines, Air Sahara, Spice, and Kingfisher have regular flights to the Island. The flights go to Port Blair from cities like Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. The island is well connected so the travellers do not face any difficulty in coming down. Asit is an Island therefore the rail and road services are not good.Find detailed information about how to reach Andaman by Train, Bus, air, flight timing and schedule. Read reviews, details to know how to reach Andaman & get information about Andaman.
By Ship :
Regular passenger ship services are available to Port Blair from Chennai, Calcutta and Vishakhapatnam and back. The voyage takes about 50 to 60 hours.
Port Blair is the Andaman's major gateway which is well connected by air & sea while regular passenger ship services are available to Port Blair from the India's major cities Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam, The best way to reach these exotic islands is to take flight from New Delhi, Kolkata & Chennai.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands is divided into three districts. Each district is further divided into sub-divisions and taluks:
North and Middle Andaman
Headquarters: Port Blair
Port Blair Sub-Division
Port Blair taluk
Jirkatang taluk (native Jarawa reservation)
Ritchie's Archipelago Sub-Division
Ritchie's Archipelago taluka (Havelock Island)
Little Andaman Sub-Division
Little Andaman taluka (Hut Bay)
Headquarters: Car Nicobar
Car Nicobar Sub-Division
Car Nicobar taluk
Great Nicobar Sub-Division
Great Nicobar taluk (Campbell Bay)
Little Nicobar taluk
Bihar became the first state in India to have separate web page for every city and village in the state on its website www.brandbihar.com (Now www.brandbharat.com)
See the record in Limca Book of Records 2012 on Page No. 217