State Bank Of India

Union Territory Level Banker's Committee, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Overview

Andaman and Nicobar Islands
—  Union Territory  —

Port Blair

Location of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Coordinates 11°41'N 92°46'E? / ?11.68°N 92.77°E? / 11.68; 92.77
Country  India
Territory Andaman and Nicobar Islands
District(s) 3
Established 1956-11-01
Capital Port Blair
Largest city Port Blair
Lt. Governor Lieutenant General Bhopinder Singh

• Density


• 43 /km2 (111 /sq mi)

Official languages Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, English, Malayalam, Nicobarese
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Area 8250 km2 (3185 sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 IN-AN

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands  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, close to Aceh in Indonesia and separated from them 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 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:

  • the Great Andamanese, who collectively represented at least 10 distinct sub-groups and languages;
  • the Jarawa;
  • the Jangil (or Rutland Jarawa);
  • the Onge; and
  • the Sentinelese (most isolated of all the groups).

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 Nicobarese, or Nicobari, living throughout many of the islands; and the Shompen, restricted to the hinterland of Great Nicobar.

Pre-colonial era

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.

British Colonial Period

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.

Indian Control

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.

Recent history

On 26 December 2004 the coasts of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were devastated by a 10 metres (33 ft) 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. The worst affected Nicobar   islands were Katchal and Indira Point, the latter 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:

  1. Giant evergreen forest
  3. Andamans tropical evergreen forest
  5. Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest
  7. Cane brakes
  9. Wet bamboo brakes
  11. Andamans semi-evergreen forest
  13. Andamans moist deciduous forest
  15. Andamans secondary moist deciduous forest
  17. Littoral forest
  19. Mangrove forest
  21. Brackish water mixed forest
  23. Submontane hill valley swamp forest


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:

  1. Marble Wood (Diospyros marmorata)
  3. Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides)
  5. Silver Grey (a special formation of wood in white chuglam)
  7. Chooi (Sageraea elliptical)
  9. Kokko (Albizzia lebbeck)

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.


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, with significant Muslim, Christian and Sikh minorities.

Foreigners wishing to visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands require a Restricted Area Permit; however, they are now available on arrival at Port Blair's Veer Savarkar Airport.


Andaman & Nicobar Islands are divided into 3 administrative   districts. Each district is further divided into Sub-Divisions and   taluks.

  • Rangat taluk

South Andaman district

Headquarters: Port Blair

Sub-Divisions & Taluks:

  • Port Blair Sub-Division        
    • Port Blair taluk
    • Ferrargunj taluk
  • Little Andaman Sub-Division       
    • Little Andaman taluka (Hut Bay)

Nicobar District

Headquarters: Car Nicobar

Sub-Divisions & Taluks:

  • Car Nicobar Sub-Division        
    • Car Nicobar taluk
  • Nancowrie Sub-Division        
    • Nancowrie taluk
    • Kamorta taluk
    • Teressa taluk
    • Katchal taluk
  • Great Nicobar Sub-Division        
    • Great Nicobar taluk (Campbell Bay)
    • Little Nicobar taluk



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.

Macro-economic Trend

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.

YearGross State Domestic Product
1980 530
1985 1,060
1990 1,900
1995 6,750
2000 9,560
2005 13,130

Andaman and Nicobar Islands' gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $354 million in current prices.

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