Island Groups of India

Island Groups of India

This article deals with ‘Island Groups of India (Geomorphology of India).’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

  • Andaman & Nicobar Island group is situated in the Bay of Bengal. 
  • It runs like a narrow chain in the north-south direction extending between 6.39°N to 14.34°N.
  • The main islands under the Andaman and Nicobar Island group are 
    1. North Andaman
    2. Middle Andaman
    3. South Andaman
    4. Little Andaman
    5. Car Nicobar
    6. Little Nicobar
    7. Great Nicobar
Andaman and Nicobar Islands

India’s southernmost point, Indira Point or Pygmalion Point, is situated here on the Great Nicobar Island.

Nature of Islands

  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands were formed as a result of tectonic interactions between the Eurasian and Indo-Australian Plate. The Indo-Australian Plate started subducting beneath the Eurasian Plate in the Andaman Sea. As a result, volcanic activity occurs, leading to the formation of volcanic island arcs.
  • Structurally, we can say that
    1. Andaman: Extension of the Arakan Yoma mountain range of Myanmar, i.e. submerged mountains  
    2. Nicobar: Extension of Mentawai islands to the southeast of Sumatra 
  • The region continues to be seismically active, with occasional earthquakes and volcanic activity, reflecting the ongoing tectonic processes in the area.
  • Some islands are fringed with coral reefs as well. 

Some Important Channels

10 Degrees Channel Separates Andaman from the Nicobar group of Islands
Coco Channel Separates Coco Islands (of Myanmar) from Andaman Islands (India)
Grand Channel Separates Great Nicobar from Sumatra (Indonesia)

Volcanoes in this region

There are two important volcanoes situated in this region

Barren Island It is an active volcano situated east of the Andaman Islands
Narcondam Island It is a dormant volcano situated east of the Andaman Islands

Change in names

The government has changed the names of some of the islands of the Andaman and Nicobar groups of Islands to reflect Indian history. These are

Ross Island Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep
Neil Island Shaheed Dweep
Havelock Island Swaraj Dweep
Mount Harriet Mount Manipur
(As several Manipuri soldiers, including Maharaja  Kulachandra Dhwaja Singh of Manipur, were deported here after the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891)


  • Andaman and Nicobar are Union Territories of the Indian Union administered by the President through the Governor.
  • Its High Court is situated in Kolkata.
  • Capital Port Blair is situated on the South Andaman Island.

Tribes of Andaman and Nicobar

4 major tribes of Andaman are as follows (all are Negrito Tribes)

Sentinelese  It is found on North Sentinel Island (part of the North Andaman region). Only 50 to 100 members of this tribe are alive today.
Sentinelese are pre-Neolithic people who have lived here for more than 55,000 years without contact with the outside world. They still avoid any outside contact and came in the news in 2018 when an American Christian Missionary named Chau was trying to enter their territory. 
Great Andamanese It is found on Strait Island, part of North and Middle Andaman Island. 
Fewer than 50 Great Andamanese are alive today.
Jarawa Jarawas are found on South & Middle Andaman islands. 
There are 300 to 400 Jarawas alive today.
Onge Onge are found on Little Andaman. 
Fewer than 100 Onges are alive today.

2 major tribes of Nicobar are ( (all are Mongoloid Tribes)

Shompen Shompen resides on the Nicobar Islands.
Nicobarese Nicobarese resides on the Nicobar Islands.  

Importance of Andaman & Nicobar

Strategic  Importance

  • Securing Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC): These islands are important in securing busy Sea Lines of Communications (SLOC) by creating a series of chokepoints.
  • Overseas Strait of Malacca: Andaman and Nicobar Islands can choke Chinese supplies in case of war.
  • Net Security Provider: India can utilize the strategic location of these islands to act as a ‘net security provider’ in the region and promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Economic Importance

  • Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): Nearly 30% of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is derived from the maritime boundaries around these islands.
  • Fisheries Potential: The rich marine biodiversity surrounding the islands provides significant fisheries potential.
  • Tourism Potential: The scenic beauty, diverse ecosystems, and historical significance make these islands a prime tourist destination.

Historical Importance

  • Cellular Jail (Kala Pani): Freedom fighters were imprisoned here during the colonial era, and the jail remains a testament to the sacrifices made for the nation’s freedom.
  • Azad Hind Fauj Headquarters: During World War II, the Azad Hind Fauj, led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, had its headquarters in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Side Topic: Great Nicobar Island Development Project

  • The government has sanctioned a Rs 72,000 crore development project for Great Nicobar.
  • It is strategically important due to its equidistance from Klang, Colombo and Singapore and its position in the vicinity of the East-West international shipping corridor.
Great Nicobar Island Development Project

Lakshadweep Islands

Lakshadweep Islands
  • Lakshadweep group of islands are situated in the Arabian Sea 
  • It is a group of 36 islands. But 4 islands are most important, which includes 
    1. Amini 
    2. Kavaratti 
    3. Minicoy
    4. Agatti


  • These islands are part of Reunion Vulcanism. The base of the islands is provided by volcanic lava.
  • The entire Lakshadweep islands are made up of Coral Deposits.

Some Important Channel

8 Degree channel Separates Minicoy from Maldives
9 Degree channel Separates Minicoy from the main Lakshadweep archipelago


  • The population of these islands is 60,650, with a Muslim majority. But Minicoy has a Christian majority.
  • The entire indigenous population of the islands is Scheduled tribe, but tribes aren’t named.
  • The majority of people speak Malayalam (except in Minicoy, where people use Mahl written in Divehi script (same as Maldives)


  • These islands were earlier known as Lacadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands. The name Lakshadweep was adopted in 1973
  • Lakshadweep Islands is a UT under the administered control of Lt. Governor.
  • Kavaratti is the administrative capital of Lakshadweep
  • It is under the jurisdiction of Ernakulam High Court 

Other Important Islands

a. Sriharikota Island

  • It is located in Andhra Pradesh between the Bay of Bengal and Pulicat Lake. 
  • Sriharikota is one of ISRO’s satellite launching stations.

b. Wheeler Island / Abdul Kalam Island

  • It is located off the coast of Odisha.
  • It serves as a missile testing site.

c. Pamban Island

  • It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka . 
  • This island is covered with white sand.

d. Majauli Island

  • It is located in Assam. 
  • It is a riverine island situated in the Brahmaputra River. It is the largest riverine island in the world.
  • The island is under severe ecological threat due to extensive soil erosion of its banks.
  • It is home to Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture.

e. Diu Island

  • It is located on the coast of Kathiawar.
  • It is famous for the historical Diu Fort (built by the Portuguese) and beautiful beaches.
  • Note: Daman is not an island. 

f. Sagar Island

  • It is located in the Ganga Delta in the Bay of Bengal.
  • It is an important place for Hindu pilgrimage.

g.  Phumdis / Floating Islands

  • They are located in Manipur 
  • It is part of Keibul Lamjao National Park.
  • It is famous for Sangai (breed of Deer)

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