Saturday, 24 December 2011

Andaman Islands, Bay of Bengal

 The Andaman Islands are a group of Indian Ocean archipelagic islands in the Bay of Bengal between India to the west, and Burma (also known as Myanmar), 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.

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). 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,] the island group was referred to as Timaittivu (or impure islands). Marco Polo briefly mentions the Andamans (calling them by the name "Angamanain"), though it is uncertain whether he visited the islands, or whether he met the natives if he did, as he describes them as having heads like dogs.[5][6] His remark about their features may be 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. In the Age of Exploration, travelers often noted the "ferocious hostility" of the Andamanese.


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