The larger group of islands in the archipelago, Andaman Islands extend a total area of 6,408 km². The population of the Andamans according to the 2001 census was 314,084. The administrative capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands is at Port Blair in south Andaman.
Of the 576 islands in the group, only 26 are inhabited. The five main islands are called North Andaman, Middle Andaman, South Andaman, Baratang and Rutland Island. Four narrow straits separate these islands: Austin Strait, between North and Middle Andaman, Homfray's Strait between Middle Andaman, Baratang, and the north extremity of South Andaman; Middle (or Andaman) Strait between Baratang and South Andaman and Macpherson Strait between South Andaman and Rutland Island. Of these only the last is navigable by ocean-going vessels.
Mythologicaly, the name Andaman is believed to be derived from Hanuman, who was known to the Malays as Handuman. Since Prehistoric times, these islands were the home of aboriginal tribes. The tribes of, the Andaman group of islands are the Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, and Sentinatese, all of Negrito origin. The first settlement by the British wasin 1789, which was later abandoned in 1796 following inhospitable conditions. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858, after the First War of Independence, followed by the settlement of convicts. later with the completion of the infamous Cellular jail in 1910, it became the place to send the heroes of freedom struggleto hang or subject to inhuman treatment. Today this is a museum of the freedom struggle.
In these islands people of all faiths - Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc., and of all languages like Hindi, Bengali, Malayalali, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Nicobari etc., live together in complete peace and harmony. Inter-religion and inter-regional marriages are common. This amazing racial and cultural mix is correctly described as Mini-India.