History and Geography
The Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is situated between 6° and 14° North Latitude and 92° and 94° East Longitude. The islands located north of 10° north latitude are known as Andaman Group of islands while islands located south of 10° north latitude are called Nicobar Group of islands. The climate of the islands can be defined as humid, tropical coastal climate. The islands receive rainfall from both the south west and north east monsoons and maximum precipitation is between May & December.
The original inhabitants of the islands lived in the forests on hunting and fishing. There are four Negrito tribes, viz., the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa and Sentinalese in the Andaman group of islands and two Mongoloid tribes, viz., Nicobarese and Shompens in the Nicobar group of islands.
A total of 51,694.35 hect. of area 8068.71 hect. under agriculture and plantation in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was damaged by Tsunami/Earthquake. Out of that paddy and other field crops in 2177.70 hect. and 5891.01 hect. under plantation crops. Area under permanent submergence is 4206.64 hect. with paddy and other field crops.
Paddy the main food crop, is mostly cultivated in Andaman group of Islands, whereas Coconut and Areca nut are the cash crops of Nicobar group of Islands. Field crops, namely, pulses, oilseeds and vegetable grown followed by paddy during Rabi season. Different kinds of fruits such as mango, sapota, orange, banana, papaya, pineapple and root crops are grown on hilly land owned by the farmers. Spices, viz. pepper, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon are grown under multitier cropping system. Rubber, red oil, palm and cashew are grown on a limited scale in these Islands.
There are 1833 registered MSMEs and Handicrafts Units as on 31 March 2007. Two units are 100 per cent export oriented units in the line of Fish/Prawn processing activity. Apart from this, there are shells and wood based handicraft units. SSI units are engaged in the production of paints and varnishes, mini flour mills, soft drinks and beverages, steel furniture and fixtures, readymade garments, steel gate grills and structures. MSMEs handicraft units are also engaged in shell crafts, bakery products, rice-milling, furniture-making, etc. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation in the Public sector has spread its wings in the field of Tourism, Fisheries, Industries and Industrial financing and functions as authorized agents for Alliance Air/Jet Airways/Air Deccan.
The Motor Transport Department of A & N Administration operates from 13 stations in Northern and Southern group of islands. The department has a total number of 205 buses in operation mainly in rural area of A & N islands. Computerized ticketing for ATR express service has been implemented w.e.f. 15th August, 2007 where advance tickets can be obtained.
During the year 2007-08 a total of 135.88 lakh people travelled by the State Transport Service buses and the Department have generated revenue of Rs. 1075.22 lakhs. It is therefore evident that the Department has been making steady progress in not only providing better public transport service but also has been increasing its earnings.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been recognised as an eco-friendly tourist's destination. As a tourist paradise, these islands have something very special to offer like Cellular Jail, Ross Island and Havelock Island.
The Andaman tropical evergreen rain forests, beautiful silver sandy beaches, serpentine mangrove-lines creeks, marine life abounding in rare species of plants, animals, corals, etc., provide a memorable experience to the tourists. There is tremendous scope for enjoying nature in the beach resorts, water sports and adventure water sports, adventure tourism like trekking, Island camping, Nature trail, Scuba Diving, etc.
Tourism Department runs guest houses in various parts of the Islands for comfortable accommodation to tourists visiting these Islands. The important places of tourist interest are Anthropological Museum. Marine Museum, Water Sports Complex, Gandhi Park, North Bay, Viper Island, Ross Island, Chidiyatapu, (Bird watching), Red Skin Island, Corbyn's cove Beach, Islands like Neil Island, Havelock Island, Cinque, Little Andaman, Diglipur (Ross and Smith), etc.
As regards the connectivity, the islands are well connected to the mainland by air and sea. Indian Airlines, Air Deccan, Jetlite operates to Port Blair from Kolkata and Chennai. There are regular passenger ship service from Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam.
The recorded forest area is 7,171 sq km of the total geographical area of the islands. Many types of forests are found in the islands, such as tropical wet evergreen, tropical semi evergreen, moist deciduous, littoral, mangrove and swamp forests. A large variety of timbers are found in the Andaman group of islands. The most valuable timbers are padauk and gurjan. These species are not found in Nicobar.
There are 96 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 9 National Parks and 1 Biosphere Reserve in these Islands.
Mammals - Out of 55 terrestrial and 7 Marine mammal species reported so far, 32 species are endemic.
Birds - As many as 246 species and sub species of birds are reported to inhabit these Islands, and of these, 99 species and sub species are endemic.
Reptiles - There are 76 terrestrial reptiles of these 24 species are endemic.
Marine Life - Islands harbour more than 1,200 species of fish, 350 species of echinoderms, 1,000 species of molluscs and many more lower forms of life. Among vertebrates dugongs, dolphins, whales, salt water crocodiles, sea turtles, sea snakes, etc., are common.
Coral and Coral reefs - So far, 179 species of corals belonging to 61 genera have been reported. Reefs are mostly fringing type on eastern coast and barrier type on the western.