Andaman and Nicobar islands are one of the most beautiful places in the earth! It is sparsely populated which itself is a blessing in disguise.
‘Andaman’ is derived from the Malay word for the Hindu god Hanuman. ‘Nicobar’ is a Malay word that roughly translates to ‘land of the naked people.’
The most widely spoken language here is Bengali, followed by Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. But there is a separate language called ‘Andamanese’, spoken by the natives here.
Some 200 years ago, due to outbreak of some disease, many of the native population was killed. Hence slowly this language is on extinction.
Andaman and Nicobar are covered with 90% forest and only 10% is inhabited by people. There are a total of 572 islands, and some are not even inhabited.
The Tribes of Andaman :
Some of the oldest tribes known to mankind are living in Andaman. These tribes are called ‘Jarawa’. They are called fondly as ‘adivasi’ by the people here. They are only very few in number – less than 500. They don’t interact with outsiders here, in fact they are fearful of them.
First sunrise of this millennium :
Katchal Island in Nicobar Islands enjoyed the distinction of being the first place to receive the first sun rays of this millennium sunrise – happened on 1-1-2000.
Many rich and famous people from around the world had converged on it for a glimpse of the millennium’s first sunrise.
Andaman is also known as the paradise of biologists. In the year 2002, Andaman & Nicobar Islands have been identified as ‘Bio Diversity Spots’ by UNESCO.
Coral Reef :
The coral reef surrounding Andaman is one of the best in the world. Nearly 197 species of coral were identified in thirteen sites. Nearly 111 species of these 197 species are newly recorded – previously not known.
These coral reefs have not been much affected by the coral bleaching which affected the coral reefs in other part of the world too.
Scuba Diving :
Andaman is a paradise for Scuba Divers. There are lot of scuba diving centers in Andaman – the highest in India. There are options for both pleasure divers and professional divers.
Dermochelys Coriacea :
There are a lot of wonderful marine creatures and exotic varieties of fish here. The world’s largest sea turtles – Leather back turtles come for nesting here. These turtles are called Dermochelys Coriacea.
They are super huge. Every year, thousands of these turtles flock to Andaman. That’s a big thing because only four places in the world can boast as nesting places for these turtles and Andaman is one of them!
Commercial fishing is prohibited in Andaman. It is one of the very few places in the world where fishes die of old age and they get to live a full life!!!
Oliver-Ridley Turtles :
Scientific name: Lepidochelys olivacea. These are one of the endangered species. They flock to Andaman and use this island as their nesting ground.
Coconut Crab :
The largest land living arthropod Birgus Latro, lives in Andaman, the highest number in the south Asian region. These are super huge crabs and they hate water. They are mostly like land animals and they love climbing coconut trees.
There is a special variety of sea animal called Dugong. These species are super shy to mate, hence there are very few in number now. And Andaman islands is like a honeymoon spot for them, they lose their inhibitions.
There are only five breeding centers for them in the whole world and Andaman is definitely one them. Dugong is also the state animal of Andaman.
There are many species of flora and fauna that are exotic to these islands…
The happy land of butterflies
Every year, thousands of butterflies flock to Andaman from the nearby tropical islands. They are proud hosts of these butterflies. A postal stamp was released by the Indian government in fond memory of these butterflies that flock to the island.
We have to be proud, that usually only birds or animals migrate, but here butterflies migrate.
The only active volcano in India (also in the entire southern Asia) is present in Andaman. Barren Island which is some 135 km north-east of Port Blair is where you can see the live volcano but from a distance.