Category: North Sentinel Island

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North Sentinel Island, in India – The most isolated tribe in the world.

A small island in the Andaman Sea, North Sentinel Island might be the least visited inhabited island on earth, a testament to cultural survival through isolation. North Sentinel Island is an island in the Bay of Bengal, between India to the west, and Myanmar, to the north and east. It is a part of the Andaman Islands. It is home to the the Sentinelese, who are among the last people to remain virtually untouched by modern civilization. The Andaman Islands feature several tribes scattered over the main islands of the archipelago: The Great Andamanese, the Jarawa, the Onge and the Sentinelese, the latter residing solely on North Sentinel Island. The Andaman tribes that didn’t go extinct have been tragically decimated in the past 200 years by colonial wars, loss of hunting territory, diseases and alcohol. There are only 50 Great Andamanese left alive today, between 200 and 400 Jarawa, and less than 100 Onge. While it’s been relatively easy to study the tribes living on most Andaman Islands, it hasn’t been the case with the Sentinelese, who vigourously refuse contact with the outside world. Most attempts in the past 200 years have been met with defiance and arrows. Hence the number of Sentinelese cannot be known with certainty: estimations vary between 40 to 250. Their language and customs remain unknown, but drawing from the other Andamanese tribes, it’s estimated that they’ve occupied North Sentinel Island for over 60’000 years. The population of Sentinelese living on North Sentinel Island is between 50 and 400 individuals and they are noted for resisting attempts at contact by outsiders. From what is known about them, they are an essentially hunter-gatherer society subsisting through hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plants. There is no evidence of either agricultural practices or methods of producing fire, making them the only known paleolithic people left in the world. Their language remains unclassified. The Sentinelese survived the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and its after-effects, including the tsunami and the uplifting of the island. Three days after the event, an Indian government helicopter observed several of them, who shot arrows and threw stones at the hovering aircraft with the apparent intent of repelling it. On 26 January 2006, two fishermen were killed by Sentinelese when their boat drifted near the island.