People of Andaman Nicobar Islands

The Andaman and Nicobar islands, a union territory belonging to India is a cluster of beautiful island situated on the Bay of Bengal. The People of Andaman are categorized into two groups viz. Indigenous or Aborigines and Immigrants or Settlers. In the pre-colonial period the group of Islands had aboriginal people divided into subgroups. The aborigines of Andaman island consists of six groups. They are Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, Sentinelese and Nicobarese. The tribes belong to Negrito race and inhabit the Andaman islands.

Based on the level of technological development the tribes can be classified as hunters and gatherers or Primitive and Horticulturists or advanced.

The Great Andamanese

Before the establishment of the penal settlement in Andaman islands The Great Andamanese was the largest tribe in here. The Great Andamanese tribe was killed by the British during their occupation of the Andaman Islands, There population at that time was estimated to be above 6000. The 'Battle of Aberdeen' killed thousands of Great Andamanese in a single day. Due to their decreasing population the Andaman and Nicobar Administration decided to colonize the tribes at a separated and isolated Strait island. Now their population is increased to 44 from 10. Now administration has provided the Andamanese with house, coconut plantations, free ration and clothes. They are now a nomadic tribe. The Great Andamanese were greatly influenced by the modern world.


Onges, one of the most primitive tribes in India is inhabiting Andaman island. There is a total of 105 tribes . Administration has provided them with many benefits like coconut plantation, medical care,free ration etc. Ongo men go out for hunting and fishing while women stay back at home and search the local area for roots and tubers under the soil. They have least interest in cultivation and were not aware of Agriculture before contact. Tobacco and alcohol is very popular among Onges. few years back they didn’t even boiled their food as they were unaware of cooking. But situation has changed due to constant friendly contacts. Onge children now goes to school and speak Hindi. They raise local crops and huge coconut plantations with the help of Agricultural Department.


Jarawas are inhabiting the Western coast of Middle and South Andaman islands. These tribes are hostile and arid areas where Bengali’s and other people are being settled by the administration. Jarawas involved in hunting and gathering other nomadic tribe. Unlike other tribes Jarawas don’t have the dogs to help them in hunting activities. Men fish with bows and arrows in the coastal waters while women catch fish with basket. Jarawas build temporary huts in their camps. The present estimated population is 300.

But now due to friendly contacts they have developed the understanding that other human beings are not their enemies. Still as per the Government policies the entry into their area is forbidden to avoid their exposure to the outside world and to save them from so many diseases from which they lack natural immunity.


Sentinelese tribe inhabits the North Sentinel Island. Like Jarawas these tribes are also hostile for outsiders. The Contact Expedition Team goes to island periodically. Friendly contacts happened in between, but still Sentinelese are skeptical about outsiders. They involve themselves in hunting, fishing and gathering tribe. They fish in the coastal waters with bows and arrows and hunt wild pigs available on North Sentinel island. Sentinelese have dug out Canoe which they use to move in the shallow coastal waters. Sentinelese, both men and women, are naked. The present estimated population of Sentinelese is 100.


Nicobarese are Mongoloid and are large in population when compared to others. As per 2001 census their population is 27000. They are horticulturist and pig-herders in profession. They inhabit in large permanent villages close to sea shore. Nicobarese are fairly divided into six groups depending on territory. They are people of Car Nicobar, Chowra, Teressa with Bomboka, the Central Group, the Southern Group and the single inland tribe of the Shompen on Great Nicobar. The difference between the groups is in language, customs, manners and physiognomy of the several groups. The live mainly in joint families and the joint family is known as Tuhet. Among Nicobarese individual ownership doesn’t exist Tuhet owns the land, coconut and pigs.