There are two distinct inhabitants in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These are the ‘Indians’ from the Indian mainland and the ‘Natives’ a small minority called Andamese, the aboriginal inhabitants of the islands. Most of these tribes are on the verge of extinction as the numbers of settlers from the mainland increased and the combined impact of forest destruction, land encroachment and various diseases and vices. Presently there remain only approximately 400-450 indigenous Andamese. Because of this, the government has restricted a number of islands as off-limits to tourists.
This photo of Indian settlers was taken in Little Andaman island, the fourth largest of the Andaman Islands and home to the Onge aboriginal tribe. I was privileged to have visited this tribal group at their reserve camps a year after the 2004 tsunami. However, due to the strict law protecting the less than 100 surviving members, we were not allowed to take a photo of the Onge tribe. The Onge people are considered as the least fertile and most sterile people in the world. On December 2004, the coast of the Andaman Islands was devastated by tsunami. All Onge members survived because of their oral tradition warning them of the impending ground shaking and water rising.
A union territory of India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands or ANI is a unique tourist destination located in the Indian Ocean at the southeastern edge of the Bay of Bengal. It has over 570 islands out of which only 38 are inhabited. Best described as India’s Best Kept Secret, ANI is famous for its exotic white sandy beaches that are fringed with coconut palm trees as well as for its transparent blue water teeming with marine life.