The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the east of the Indian mainland, float in splendid isolation in the Bay of Bengal. Once a hill range extending from Myanmar to Indonesia, these picturesque undulating islands, islets numbering around 556, are covered with dense damp and evergreen forests and endless varieties of exotic flora and fauna. Most of these islands are in the Andaman Group, 24 of which are inhabited. In the Nicobar group 13 islands are inhabited. The Andaman and Nicobars are separated by the Ten Degree Channel which is 150 Kms. wide.
These islands also boast of freedom fighting days, historically significant landmarks viz. Cellular Jail, Ross Island, Viper Island, Hopetown and Mount Harriet. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been declared as two of the 218 endemic bird area of the world. As many as 280 species and sub-species of birds have been reported existing in these islands, 105 of them being endemic. The Andaman Wood Pigeon, Andaman Padauk and Dugong are declared as State Bird, State Tree and State Animal respectively. There are about 96 Wildlife Sanctuaries, nine National Parks and one Biosphere Reserve in the islands. These islands are blessed with the bounties of both south-west and north-east monsoons.
The Andaman & Nicobar Islands have been inhabited for several thousands years, at the very least. The earlier archaeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years ; however, the indications from genetic, cultural and linguistic isolation studies point to habitation going back 30,000-60,000 years, well into the Middle Paleolithic. In the Andaman Islands, the various Andamanese people maintained their separated existence through the vast majority of this time, diversifying into distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups. By the 1850 when they first came into sustained contact by outside groups, the indigenous people of Andamans were: the Great Andamanese, who collectively represented at least 10 distinct sub groups and languages; the Jarawa: the jungle (or Rutland Jarawa); the Onge; and the Sentinelese (the most isolated of all the groups). The indigenous people of the Nicobars (unrelated to the Andamanese) have a similarly isolated and lengthy association with the islands. There are two main groups: the Nicobarese, or Nicobari living throughout many of the islands; and the Shompen, restricted to the interior of Great Nicobar.
CLIMATE AND GEOGRAPHY
The islands have a tropical climate. The South West Monsoon sets in Andaman Nicobar islands towards the end of May and the North East Monsoon in November. There is no fury of hot summer, no chilling winter, no water clogging or traffic jams. For those who want to enjoy boating, swimming, snorkeling, sightseeing, all 12months is season. North Indians find relief from burning heat and chilling winter if they visit the island in May/June/July or in December/January. Season for nature lovers is May to December when forest is lush green and water falls are at their prime. Divers can enjoy the best during December to April and bird watchers during winter times.
Normal rainfall at Port Blair : 3900 mm
Mean Minimum Temperature : 23.2° C
Mean Maximum Temperature : 31° C
Mean relative Humidity : 80 %
Administratively, the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has three revenue Districts. Port Blair- the capital and gateway to the islands lies in South Andaman island and falls under South Andaman District. The latest North & Middle Andaman District with Mayabunder as headquarters lies separated from South Andaman District by a creek. Car Nicobar is the District Head quarter of Nicobar District. As per 2011 Census, the total population of Andaman & Nicobar stands 3,79,944 and the literacy rate is 86.27%.
PORT BLAIR – THE CAPITAL OF ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS
Port Blair is the capital of the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. It is located on the east coast of the South Andaman Island. Port Blair is the gateway to the pristine islands. Port Blair is also an Island town offering water based activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sea-cruises, and glimpses of the history and culture of the region. The Aberdeen Bazar forms the centre of the town. Most of the restaurants and hotels are around this area. The main bus station is just west of the bazaar and the Airport 4 Kms. to the south west. The main passenger dock for ferries-the Phoenix Bay Jetty, is 1 Km. to the North West.