Perhaps the first question I would need to answer for most people is where on earth are these islands and they are here :
The little red bits !
Miles away from anywhere and very interesting because of it.
I was fascinated by their history. I found a book at the resort we were staying called "The Islands and tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar by Priti Singh and while the southern monsoon lashed down I read all about these 572 islands which are now a Union Territory of India. They are geographically closer to Burma but apparently Burma didn't want them.
Only 38 islands are inhabited and most of them are covered with dense rain forest and particular fauna and flora. The Great Andamans are three islands, North, Middle and South, Port Blair is the capital. The name is thought to have come from Hanuman or Handuman as the Malay people used to pronounce it.
The Nicobars, the Land of the Naked People, also consist mainly of three main islands,Car Nicobar, Nancowrie and Great Nicobar. The Nicobar islands are actually off limits to visitors, I think mainly for military reasons but also to protect some of the remaining tribes of the islands.
The islands were colonised by the Danish East India company in 1756 and then again in 1769. They came under British command in 1869 and Port Blair became a penal colony in 1890 and the now famous Cellular Jail was built to house all the criminals who were transported there from the mainland.
The Japanese invaded the islands in 1942 and took over their control for a period of three years.The British abandoned Ross Island which was the administrative headquarters and to this day you can see the place which was called the "Paris of the East" as it lies deserted, taken over by the strong forces of nature. Not really surprising - the islands are 92% covered by thick rain forest and that is what makes them quite special.
An aereal view of the islands
What is noteworthy are the tribes that lived there and in some small numbers continue to live there. More about them in my next blog.