Andaman Islands, island group of India, between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, forming the northern part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India.
The three principal islands are North Andaman, Middle Andaman, and South Andaman. To the east of the island group is a cluster of small islands known collectively as the Ritchie's Archipelago; to the south is Little Andaman. Port Blair is the territory's administrative capital, and ships from the mainland use its harbor regularly.
The Andamans are generally hilly and are heavily forested. Timber, coconuts, hemp, tea, coffee, and rubber are the principal products. Most of the inhabitants are Indian; Negritos, the islands' aborigines, now number only in the hundreds.
The British were the first Europeans to settle in the islands when they established a penal colony at Port Blair in 1789.
The penal settlement was discontinued after seven years, but in 1858 it was reestablished to imprison Indian freedom fighters.
After annexing the Nicobar Islands in 1869, the British joined the Andaman and Nicobar islands in a single administrative unit in 1872. The islands were occupied by Japanese forces from 1942 until the end of World War II in 1945, when the British regained control of the territory. The islands became a union territory of India when India gained independence from British rule in 1947. Area of the Andamans, 6475 sq km (2500 sq mi). Population (1991 preliminary) 240,089.