Andaman & Nicobar: Geography
Often referred to as the perfect tropical paradise, the Andaman and Nicobar islands form the peaks of a vast submerged mountain range that extends between Myanmar and Sumatra. This colony of 300 islands stretch over 500 miles in the Bay of Bengal. Situated east of the Indian mainland between the 6th and 14th parallel of north latitude and between 92 degree and 94 degree of east longitude, the islands run on Indian time so the sun rises at 4 am and darkness falls soon after 5 pm.
The islands are in two groups: the Andamans and the Nicobar, with a ten-degree channel separating the two. The bulk of the 239 Andaman Islands comprise of North, Middle and South Andamans, which along with Baratang and Rut-Land forms one landmass known as the Great Andamans.
More on Andamans
The Nicobar Islands are located 50 km south of Little Andaman. 13 of the 19 Nicobar Islands are inhabited by about 12,000 aboriginal tribesmen most of whom live on Car Nicobar, the northern most of the archipelago. Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is 780 miles from Calcutta, 749 miles from Chennai and120 miles from Cape Negrais in Myanmar.
Over 90% of the territory is under forest cover which forms the major source of income. About 50 % of the forest has been set aside as Tribal Reserves, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. Rich luxuriant mangroves occupy nearly 11.5 % of the territory. More then 150 plant and animal species are rife. Coconut, which grows in abundance, is the main item of trade and diet of the locals.
Deserted beaches, exquisite coral life and clear waters offer delightful opportunities for snorkeling and diving.
The main aboriginal group in the Andamans are the Onges, who live on Little Andaman. Onges, like other Andamanese tribes, are of Negrito origin. They are food-gatherers who hunt, fish and collect honey, and are the only tribe on the islands, who freely accept contact with the outside world. In the Nicobars, the only aboriginals are the Shompens, who are averse to any contact with the outside world. The Nicobarese, the largest group, seem to be of mixed Burmese, Malay, Mon and Shan origin. They are a friendly and cheerful lot, who do not accept money and prefer the barter system. Communing with the dead is one of the many intriguing rituals practiced in Nicobar.
Compiled by Puneet Sachdeva
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.