Indigenous People of Andaman and Nicobar


  • Nine members of the dwindling Great Andamanese tribe have tested Covid-19 positive, setting off alarm bells in the Union Territory.
  • It is for the first time that cases are reported from among the five Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) living in the islands.

Who are the Great Andamanese?

  • Anthropologists classify the Great Andamanese as part of the Negrito tribes that inhabit isolated parts of Southeast Asia and the Andaman Islands.
  • Originally, the Great Andamanese were ten distinct tribes, including the Jeru, Bea, Bo, Khora, and Pockiwar, each with its own separate language.
  • The language of the Great Andamanese, Sare, has largely been lost, with the last surviving speaker dying earlier this year. The tribe now speaks mostly Hindi.

Back to Basics

  • Besides the Great Andamanese, the other four PVTGs are Jarawas, Onges, Sentinelese and Shorn Pens.
  • Among the five, the Great Andamanese are the only ones who visit and live in the capital city of Port Blair frequently.
  • The PVTGs are communities that are more vulnerable among tribal groups, and are put under a special category by the government of India.
  • While five among the nine Great Andamanese who are infected are residents of Port Blair, four others live in the remote Strait Island that is reserved for the tribe.
  • Strait Islandis an island of the Andaman Islands. It belongs to the North and Middle Andaman administrative district, part of the Indian union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Survival International, is a human rights organisation campaigning for the rights of tribes.
  • The Andaman and Nicobars are separated by the Ten Degree Channel which is 150 Kms.
  • Dugong, the gentle sea cow is the state animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 
  • Andaman Padauk is the state tree of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Andaman Wood Pigeon is the state bird of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The Sentinelese is an endangered hunter-gatherer tribe living on the North Sentinel Island of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. They are considered as the most isolated Palaeolithic tribes of the world.
  • North Sentinel Island is home to one of the most isolated Palaeolithic tribes of the world.
  • Barren Island of the Andaman & Nicobar Island group is the only active volcano not just in India but the whole of South Asia.
  • Indira Point in Great Nicobar is the Southern-most point while East Island in North Andaman is the Northern-most Island of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Onge & Sentineles, all of Negrito Origin, in the Andaman group of Islands, while the tribes in the Nicobar Islands are the Nicobarese and the Shompen, both of Mongoloid Stock.

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