The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, one of the seven union territories of India comprising 572 islands of which 37 are inhabited, are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islands (partly) and the Nicobar Islands.
The territory's capital is the city of Port Blair. The total land area of these islands is approximately 8,249 km2(3,185 sq mi). The territory is dived into three districts: Nicobar District with Car Nicobar as capital, South Andaman district with Port Blair as capital and North and Middle Andaman district with Mayabunder as capital.
It became part of India in 1950 and was declared as a union territory of the nation in 1956.India has been developing defence facilities on the islands since the 1980s. The islands now have a key position in India's strategic role in the Bay of Bengal and the Malacca Strait.
There are 572 islands in the territory having an area of 8,249 km2. Of these, about 37 are permanently inhabited. The islands extend from 6° to 14° North latitudes and from 92° to 94° East longitudes. The highest point is located in North Andaman Island (Saddle Peak at 732 m (2,402 ft)). The Andaman group has 325 islands which cover an area of 6,170 km2 while the Nicobar group has only 247 islands with an area of 1,765 km2.
The capital of the union territory, Port Blair, is located 1,255 km from Kolkata, 1,200 km from Visakhapatnamand 1,190 km from Chennai. The only volcano in India, Barren Island, is located in Andaman and Nicobar. It is an active volcano and had last erupted in 2017. It also has a mud volcano situated in Baratang island, These mud volcanoes have erupted sporadically, with recent eruptions in 2005 believed to have been associated with the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The previous major eruption recorded was on 18 February 2003. The locals call this mud volcano Jalki. There are other volcanoes in the area. This island's beaches, mangrove creeks, limestone caves, and mud volcanoes are some of the physical features.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands has developed into a major tourism hub with exotic-looking beaches and virgin islands having wonderful opportunities for adventure sports like snorkeling, scuba diving and sea-walking. Plans to develop various islands under NITI (National Institute of Transforming India) Aayog is also in progress. Luxury resorts with participation from the Government are set up to plan in Avis Island, Smith Island and Long Island
In Port Blair, the main places to visit are the Cellular Jail, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Andaman Water sports complex, Chatham Saw Mill, Mini Zoo, Corbyn's cove beach, Chidiya Tapu, Wandoor Beach, Forest Museum, Anthropological Museum, Fisheries Museum, Naval Museum (Samudrika), Ross Island and North Bay Island. Viper Island which was earlier visited is now kept closed by the administration. Other places include Havelock island famous for Radhanagar Beach (chosen as Asia's best beach in 2004), Neil Island for Scuba diving/snorkeling/sea walking, Cinque Island, Saddle peak, Mt Harriet and Mud Volcano. Diglipur, located at North Andaman is also getting popular in 2018 and many tourists have started visiting North Andaman as well. The southern group (Nicobar islands) is mostly inaccessible to tourists.
Indian tourists do not require a permit to visit the Andaman Islands, but if they wish to visit any tribal areas they need a special permit from the Deputy Commissioner in Port Blair. Permits are required for foreign nationals. For foreign nationals arriving by air, these are granted upon arrival at Port Blair.
In December 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was on a two-day visit to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, renamed three of the islands as a tribute to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The Ross Island was renamed as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep; the Neil Island as Shaheed Dweep; and the Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep. The PM made this announcement during a speech at the Netaji Stadium, marking the 75th anniversary of the hoisting of the Indian flag by Netaji Bose there.