Floating in splendid isolation, cast of the Indian mainland is the archipelago of 572 emerald islands, islets and rocks known as Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This Union Territory is stretched over an area of more than 700 Km. from north to south with 36 inhabited islands. Once a hill range extending from Burma (Myanmar) to Indonesia, these undulating islands are covered with dense forests and endless variety of exotic flowers and birds. The topography of the islands is hilly and abounds in evergreen forests. The sandy beaches on the edge of meandering coastline are fringed with coconut-palms that sway to the rhythm of the sea. The sea around the islands offer excellent scope for water sports. The rare flora and fauna, underwater marine life and corals, with crystal clear water and mangrove-lined creeks, offer a dream-view of the rare gifts of nature. The clean and wide roads, free of filth as well as unpolluted fresh air attract any nature-lover, who seek absolute peace and tranquility in the lap of mother nature. Adventure tourism like trekking, island camping, snorkeling, scuba diving etc., are the real attractions. A visit to these islands is a memorable lifetime experience.
Mythologicaly, the name Andaman was presumed to be derived from Hanuman, who was known to the Malays as Handuman. Since Prehistoric times, these islands were the home of aboriginal tribes. The tribes of, the Andaman group of islands are the Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, and Sentinatese, all of Negrito origin, while the tribes of Nicobars are the Nicobarese and Shompens, both of Mongoloid stock. The first settlement by the British took place in 1789, which was later abandoned in 1796. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858, after the First War of Independence, followed by the settlement of convicts, Moplas, some criminal tribes from Central and United Provinces, refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka as well as ex-servicemen. In these islands people of all faiths – Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc., and of all languages like Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Nicobari etc., live together in complete peace and harmony. Inter-religion and inter-regional marriages are common. This amazing racial and cultural mix is correctly described as Mini-India.
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