The Nicobar Islands are a group of 22 islands located in Southeast of Asia, in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean. Covering a total area of 711 square miles, the islands are situated about 150 km north of parts of Indonesia (Aceh and Sumatra), and west of Thailand, separated by the Andaman Sea. Located about 877 miles from the Indian subcontinent and separated by the Bay of Bengal, the Nicobar Islands are part of a union territory of India, which is a type of administrative division, called the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Pre-Colonial Period to Present
The Nicobar Islands have been inhabited by an indigenous population for thousands of years. Denmark attempted to colonize the islands in 1754, but their stay was short-lived after outbreaks of malaria and other diseases killed many settlers. In 1864, Italy tried to purchase the islands from the Danish government, but an agreement could not be reached, particularly after Luigi Torelli, Italy's Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, unexpectedly lost his position in office. Denmark eventually relinquished rights to the island to Britain in 1869. The islands were occupied by Japan during part of World War II, and later merged with the Andaman Islands to form a union territory of India in 1950.
Population and Administration
The Nicobar Islands have an area of 711 square miles, a population of 36,000, and are subdivided into three administrative divisions: the Northern Group, Central Group, and Southern Group. Similar to counties, these groups are further subdivided into smaller local administrative divisions, called taluks. The largest taluk is Great Nicobar, which is part of the Southern Group, and has an area of 356 square miles and a population of 8,067.
The Nicobar Islands experience a warm and tropical climate. The vegetation and terrain on the islands ranges, and can include tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, mangroves, and grasslands. Various bird species are endemic to the Nicobar Islands, such as the South Nicobar serpent eagle and the Nicobar parakeet. Additionally, Great Nicobar Island was designated as part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) in 2013.
The Nicobar Islands are known as a destination for various water sports, especially scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing and under-sea walks. Visitors can access the islands by a small airstrip on Great Nicobar Island or by seaports on Great Nicobar Island and Car Nicobar.