Sunday, January 20, 2019
Andaman and Nicobar

People & Lifestyle


The original people who lived in this island are the great Andamanese, Jarawas, Sentinelese and Onges in the Andaman group and the Nicobarese and Shompens in the Nicobar group. They were mostly nomadic, living on fish, wild pigs, wild tubers and berries without causing any damage to the forests around them. The tribal people of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands belong to distinctive racial groups and have different forms of cultural and social behaviour. The tribal groups in the two respective regions have very little in common in the ethnic, linguistic or cultural sense. Their life styles are also very different. 


The tribal element in the Andaman group of Islands is relatively very small. The Andaman Tribes belong to the Negrito stock and they are relatively short-statured highly dark complexioned and have woolly hair. Their facial structure is easily distinguished from that of the Negroid people of Africa.  They are some of the surviving representatives of a once flourishing Negrito race that once dominated the entire south-east Asian region including the Islands. They speak distinctive dialects not mutually understood. The few surviving Great Andamanese were scattered in various parts of south and Middle Andamans but the Andaman and Nicobar Administration has settled them all on the strait Island, a small island off the eastern coast of Middle Andaman. The Jarawas is on the western coast of south and Middle Andaman. The Sentinelese are the sole inhabitants in the North Sentinel Island situated south-west of Port Blair. The Onge live in Little Andaman which is the southern-most island in the Andamans. The Andamanese never discovered any technique of fire making. They have only kept it alive over thousands of years. They do not eat salt. They cannot count beyond three. But these handicaps did not affect their survival. Their contact with modern society of threatening their ethnicity.



Majority of the inhabitants of the Nicobar region are the original tribes. The Nicobarese live in twelve island communities in the Islands of Car Nicobar, Chowra, Teressa, Bompoka, Katchal, Camorta, Trinkat, Nancoury, Pulo Milo, Little Nicobar, Kondul and Great Nicobar. There is also an interior tribe called the Shompen. They live in the river valleys of Great Nicobar on both the eastern and the western coasts along with the coastal Nicobarese community. A majority of the Nicobarese have been converted to Christianity. As a result some of their traditional beliefs and customs have lost their force.

Physical Features of the Andamanese 

The Andamanese skin is smooth, greasy, satiny and black. The hair is sooty black to yellowish brown.  It grows in small rings and distributed evenly over the head, appears to take the form of tuffs. The mouth is large, the palate hard and slightly arched and the lips well formed. The hands and feet are small and well made. The ears are small and well shaped. The eyes are dark to very dark brown, bright, liquid and clear but prominent. The teeth are white, good and free from disease.

The muscular strength is great but the vitality is low and individuals apparently robust die quickly. Recovery from sickness is usually rapid. Idiocy, insanity and natural deformities are rare but epilepsy and homicidal mania occur. No parts of the body are intentionally pierced, injured or deformed. The flattening of the skull in parts is accidental and due to the use of straps in carrying weights.

The figures of the men are muscular and well formed and generally pleasing. A young man is often distinctly good-looking. The women are liable to early stoutness and ungainliness of figure. Variation from type is much common among the men than the women.

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