Way of Life in Andaman and Nicobar Islands

The “Natives” and the “Indians” are the two different residents of the islands. People came from Indian soils mainly from Tamil Nadu, Punjab, West Bengal as well as Sri Lanka and Myanmar is named as Indians. The Aborigine tribes in the island are named as Natives. The feeling of wild abandonment of the Islands is due to these Natives of the Islands. The Natives of the Islands are mainly divided into two groups; The Negroid, living in the Andaman Islands, and the Mongoloid, in Nicobar Islands.

Life in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Onge, Sentinelese, Jarawa and The Great Andamanese are the people belong to Negroid group. Shompen and Nicobarese are the people belonging to Mongoloid group. Due to the devastation of forest habitats and the imposition of the unfamiliar and the numb culture that brings various diseases with alcohol and tobacco, majority of these tribes are at the verge of extinction.

The Great Andamanese

The Great Andamanese are completely different from other tribal groups by language, culture and geography. They initially lived in southern part of Great Andaman now spread to some areas of South Andaman Island and Rutland Island as well as Little Andaman Island and North Sentinel Island. The language they speak is Ongan, an off the record language in a separate family of Andamanese languages. Government provides semi-pucca wooden houses with tin roofs. They eat rice, wheat roti, pulse soup, meat and fish. Occasionally they go for hunting and gathering. Some of them cultivate vegetables. Recently, they built poultry farms.


Onges belongs to the most ancient tribes in India. They are living in the Little Andaman Island.  For the benefit of Medical Care, free ration etc, Government increased the coconut plantation. They rarely go for hunting and fishing. They fully depend on the food from the nature. They eat turtle, fish, roots and jack fruits etc. They developed craft and artistry.  Due to the imposition of unfamiliar way of life, they are suffering extinction.


The Jarawa are one of the ancient tribes of the Andaman Islands. They are at the verge of extinction. Only 250-350 individuals remain in the island. The Jarawas are presently living in the western coast of middle Andaman and South Andaman Islands. They are strongly maintaining their independence and distance from outside groups, vigorously upsetting most incursions and attempts at contact. They hunt wild pig, observe lizard with bows and arrows. They use the iron they get from sea shore to create the tip of arrows. They build temporary huts in their camps. Rough rafts are used to cross creeks and streams.


Sentinelese lives in the small North Sentinel Island. They used to hunting, fishing and gathering. They fish in coastal waters with bows and arrows and hunt wild pigs. They use dug – out canoe for travelling in the shallow coastal waters. They did not use cloths. Both men and women are naked. They are similar to Jarawas in maintaining their independence. There is only little knowledge about these tribes.


They are the ancient tribes of the interior of Great Nicobar Islands. They also used to hunting and gathering. Their long-established outfit includes wearing clothes below waist only, but many people are wearing modern clothes due to the influence of Indians. They are very shy. They are rather friendly to Nicobarese and other Shompens.


Nicobarese Hut
Nicobarese are the dominant tribe in Nicobar Islands. They are lucky to found it easier to incorporate into modern Indian society. Most of the people in this tribe belong to Christian community. Their huts are usually round in shape with dome shaped roofs. They are naturally lifted up from the ground with ladders that they use to climb up to the huts they bring in at night.


English and Hindi are widely spoken languages in these Islands. Bengali and Malayalam are also used here. The tribal language spoken in Andaman bears no similarity to any other language spoken in India.


All religions come together in these islands. Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, live here in great harmony. The only tribal group in these islands corporate with Indians of the island is Nicobarese. Most of them belong to Christian religion.

Sea Foods


As the tribes living in these islands are hunters, no particular cuisine has developed in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Those who settled here from all parts of India added their own particular foods and flavours in these Islands. The people commonly eat rice. As the soil is not fitting for the growth of many fruits and vegetables, most of them are shipped in from Chennai. Sea foods are very much available here. Many restaurants serve fresh seafood.

Crafts and Culture

Tribal Dance
Most of the ancient tribes in the islands slowly came into contact with the modern civilization and lost their cultural identity. The Jarawa and Sentinelese are only remains intact. The Nicobarese are the large group, but they are integrated to modern civilization. Their cultural fabric is woven around family, religion and economy. They are well-known for their love for music and dance.

Shell Craft

Shells and exotic woods crafted for tourists, palm mats and stunning natural shells are the main crafts of these islands. Trading of some of the Island’s natural wealth like mother-of-pearl jewellery, padauk etc, are barred due to fear of over exploitation of these resources.

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  2. The picture you have of Sentinelese are not Sentinelese. Those are pictures of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil. Here: http://www.uncontactedtribes.org/brazilphotos

  3. This is a ver interesting entry. I just heard (for th first time, I must admit) about the North Sentil Island and was fascinated by it. I didn't know they managed to keep their way of life even in the modern world. Thanks for all this information!


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