What to know

The Uncontacted People of North Sentinel Island

North Sentinel Island on the Bay of Bengal is home to the uncontacted Sentinelese people

On Bay of Bengal lies North Sentinel Island, an Indian territory which is home to the uncontacted Sentinelese people.

While India exercises administration over all of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, North Sentinel Island remains sovereign and virtually uncontacted by the modern world.

The island is home to the Sentinelese people, who are often violent towards visitors and rejects any contact with the outside world. This has led to the preservation of their way of life, which we know so little about.

Technically, the North Sentinel Island is one of the Andaman Islands which are supposed be administered by the Indian authorities in South Andaman administrative district. Practically however, the island is a sovereign entity under Indian protection since there is nothing the Indian state does except monitor it remotely.

Since 1967, Indian explorers made brief landing on the island to establish relations with the Sentinelese people. However, these attempts weren’t very fruitful and very little was discovered about their culture.

While exact numbers are unknown, the Sentinelese population is estimated to be between 50 and 400 individuals.

In early 1974, a National Geographic film crew tried to establish contact with the people of the island and had taken with them gifts such as plastic, a live pig, dolls and aluminum cookware.

The visit is considered one of the most unsuccessful expedition to North Sentinel, during which they were met with a curtain of arrows shot at their boat.

 

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