Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Andaman and Nicobar Islands


The Andaman and Nicobar Islands  are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, and are a Union Territory of India. The territory is 150 km (93 mi) north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thailand and Burma by the Andaman Sea. It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10°N parallel, with the Andamans to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobars to the south. The Andaman Sea lies to the east and the Bay of Bengal to the west.


The territory's capital is the Andamanese town of Port Blair. The total land area of the territory is approximately 8,073 km2 (3,117 sq mi). The capital of Nicobar Islands is Car Nicobar also known as Malacca.  The earliest archaeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years; however, genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andamanese people may have been isolated from other populations since the Middle Paleolithic. In that time, the Andamanese have diversified into distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups.


The Nicobar Islands appear to have been populated by people of various backgrounds. At the time of the European contact, the indigenous inhabitants were the Nicobarese people, speaking a Mon-Khmer language; and the Shompen, whose language is of uncertain affiliation. Both are unrelated to the Andamanese.


There are 572 islands in the territory having an area of 7,950 km2 (3,070 sq mi). Of these, about 34 are permanently inhabited. The islands extend from 6° to 14° North latitudes and from 92° to 94° East longitudes. The Andamans are separated from the Nicobar group by a channel (the Ten Degree Channel) some 150 km (93 mi) wide. The highest point is located in North Andaman Island (Saddle Peak at 732 m (2,402 ft)). The Andaman group has 325 islands which cover an area of 6,170 km2 (2,382 sq mi) while the Nicobar group has only 24 islands with an area of 1,765 km2 (681 sq mi).


The capital of the union territory, Port Blair, is located 1,255 km (780 mi) from Kolkata, 1,200 km (750 mi) from Visakhapatnam and 1,190 km (740 mi) from Chennai. The northernmost point of the Andaman and Nicobars group is 901 km (560 mi) away from the mouth of the Hooghly River and 190 km (120 mi) from Burma. Indira Point at 6°45’10″N and 93°49’36″E at the southern tip of the southernmost island, Great Nicobar, is the southernmost point of India and lies only 150 km (93 mi) from Sumatra in Indonesia.


During World War II, the islands were practically under Japanese control, only nominally under the authority of the Arzi Hukumate Azad Hind of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose visited the islands during the war, and renamed them as "Shaheed-dweep" (Martyr Island) and "Swaraj-dweep" (Self-rule Island).


 General Loganathan, of the Indian National Army was made the Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. On 22 February 1944 he along with four INA officers — Major Mansoor Ali Alvi, Sub. Lt. Md. Iqbal, Lt. Suba Singh and stenographer Srinivasan—arrived at Lambaline Airport in Port Blair. On 21 March 1944 the Headquarters of the Civil Administration was established near the Gurudwara at Aberdeen Bazaar. On 2 October 1944, Col. Loganathan handed over the charge to Maj. Alvi and left Port Blair, never to return. The islands were reoccupied by British and Indian troops of the 116th Indian Infantry Brigade on 7 October 1945, to whom the remaining Japanese garrison surrendered.


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