Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI)
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 Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the east of the Indian mainland geographically, 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 836, are covered with dense rain-fed, damp and evergreen forests and endless varieties of exotic flora and fauna. Most of these islands (about 550) are in the Andaman Group, 28 of which are inhabited. The smaller Nicobars, comprise some 22 main islands (10 inhabited). The Andaman and Nicobars are separated by the Ten Degree Channel which is 150 Kms. wide.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been declared as two of the 218 endemic bird area of the world. As many as 270 species and sub-species of birds have been reported existing in these islands, 106 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.
Once the land of "abominable aborigines" and described as the “islands of devils", Andaman and Nicobar islands with unhealthy climate and tropical diseases served as a penal colony for Indian patriots after the 1957 Mutiny. Since independence these islands have been transformed into happy home of progressing tribal people and resettled refugees and migrants. The process of development of modern communication system, industry, agriculture, power, health and education, initiated during the last quarter century has catapulted the once desolate islands into a new life, The changes initiated over the years are steadily drawing the inlands into the mainstream of Indian life.
The Union Territiory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands constitute the farther most part of the Indian Union. The archipelago of Andaman & Nicobar Islands spreads along 780 kilometers in the Indian Ocean. The southern tip of these Islands is 91 miles from Sumatra. The major languages spoken are Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Punjabi and Urdu. These Islands are the home of six primitive tribal groups and some of them are very hostile towards outsiders. The entire group is surrounded in every direction by a natural fortress of coral reefs, which, extending for many miles, guards the approach to the islands, and in stormy weather, or in dark nights, renders it a matter of no little difficulty, and attended with considerable danger, to attempt to land upon them.
The islands are accessible both by air and sea. Indian Port Blair (capital) city is the only airport. Indian Airlines is operating five flights a week between Calcutta and Port Blair and three flights a week between Chennai and Port Blair. The passenger ships ply between Port Blair and Calcutta/Chennai/Visakhapatnam. The Directorate of Shipping Services maintains regular inter-island, fore-shore and harbour ferry services to facilitate inter-island commuters. The state transport services established as a commercial undertaking extended its service to 11 major islands of this Union Territory right from Diglipur in the north to Campbell Bay in the south. The department also introduced Andaman Trunk Road service to connect the capital with Rangat, Mayabunder and Diglipur with trans-shipment service by providing three ferry boats, covering a distance of 272 kms.
Tourism flourished in this union territory. Andaman's golden sandy beaches attract lovers of the sea and those wanting to get away from it all in search of a little relaxation. Popularly known as the Emerald Isles, Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a paradise for eco-friendly tourists. Covered with dense forests and endless variety of exotic flora and fauna these islands have lovely beaches and charming under-water corals and marine life. Important tourist centres are: Cellular Jail, National Memorial, Anthropological Museum, Marine Museum, Water Sports Complex, Gandhi Park, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park; Islands like Ross, Viper, Havelock, Neil, Jolly, Buoy, Cinque, Red Skin, Middle and North Andaman; Beaches like Corbyn's Cove, Radha Nagar, Curt Bert Bay, Karmatang (both Turtle nesting areas), Sita Nagar, etc. Best tourist season is during May and October. Earlier, the Home Ministry in Delhi issues permits for foreign tourist, but now no such permits are required. On the other hand the old image of 'Kala Pani' is almost wiped out from the minds of the Indian people. So the numbers of tourists are increasing every year.
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