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Indian Subcontinent >> India >> Andaman & Nicobar Islands >> People of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

People of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

There are two distinct inhabitants of the Andaman Islands - The 'Indians' and the 'Natives'. The former are people from the Indian mainland especially from Punjab, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu as well as immigrants from Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

The native or the Aborigine tribes are the main reason why the islands have an aura of wild abandonment about them. The indigenous tribes are distinguished as two groups: the Onge, Sentinelese, Jarawa and Andamanese of Negroid descent living on the Andaman Islands and the Shompen and Nicobarese of Mongoloid descent living in the Nicobar Islands. Most of these tribes are on the verge of extinction because of the combined impact of destruction of the forest habitats and the imposition of an alien and insensitive culture that brought along with it various diseases and vices such as alcohol and tobacco.

The two Negrito communities, the Jarawa and the Sentinelese have avoided contact with the outside world and often resorted to violence to do so. Perhaps they realise that their only way of survival is to avoid contact with the outside world. This however appears to be changing in the case of the Jarawa. Whereas the number of Great Andamanese declined because of the various epidemics, the Onge are suffering on account of the destruction of their forests and the imposition of a way of life that is alien and insensitive to them. The Nicobarese are fortunate to have found it easier to assimilate into the contemporary Indian society.

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