Andaman Islands

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The Andamans

The Andaman Islands (Bengali: আন্দামান দ্বীপপুঞ্জ, Hindi: अण्डमान द्वीप समूह, Tamil: அந்தமான் தீவுகள், Telugu: అండమాన్ దీవులు) are a group of Indian Ocean archipelagic islands in the Bay of Bengal between India to the west and Myanmar (also known as Burma) to the north and east. Most of the islands are part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory of India while a small number at the north of the archipelago belong to Myanmar.

Contents

History

The name "Andaman" first appears in the work of Arab geographers of the ninth century (Soleyman in 851),[citation needed] though it is uncertain whether ancient geographers like Ptolemy also knew of the Andamans but referred to them by a different name. They were also described as being inhabited by fierce cannibalistic tribes by the Persian navigator Buzurg ibn Shahriyar of Ramhormuz in his tenth century book Ajaib al-Hind (The wonders of India), in which he also mentioned an island he called Andaman al-Kabir (Great Andaman).[1][2] During the Chola Dynasty period in South India (800-1200AD), which ruled an empire encompassing southeastern peninsular India, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Maldives, and large parts of current day Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia,[3] the island group was referred to as Timaittivu (or impure islands).[4] Marco Polo briefly mentions the Andamans (calling them by the name "Angamanain"), although it is doubtful that he visited the islands himself because he also claimed that the human inhabitants had dogs' heads.[5] However, despite that one author's unqualified opinion, Marco Polo is presumed to have visited the Andaman Islands, due to the provable veracity of his accounts in general. He never said that the natives "had dogs' heads" rather, that they had "heads, eyes, and teeth resembling those of the canine species.", which is not the same thing. [6] It is reasonable to suppose that, while truly having visited the island, he never actually met any of these natives, due in part to their being known as aggressive cannibals; and that his remark about their features was the second-hand account of a local resident or fellow traveler, which is a frequent cause for certain exaggerated descriptions in Marco Polo's travels. Another Italian traveler, Niccolò de' Conti (c. 1440), mentioned the islands and said that the name means "Island of Gold". A theory that became prevalent in the late nineteenth century, and has since gained momentum, is that the name of the islands derives from the Sanskrit language, by way of Malay, and refers to the deity, Hanuman.[7] In the Age of Exploration, travelers often noted the "ferocious hostility" of the Andamanese.

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