The sole inhabitants of North Sentinel Island, the Sentinelese, are one of the most isolated and least known human tribes in the world today. They are a true hunting-gathering society with a considerable reliance on sea resources. The island is fringed by a barrier reef affording natural fortification. The estimates of the population have in this century varied from 50 to 100, with an actual estimate around 80-100 (1990). Brief visits have been paid to the island, but the Sentinelese have so far succeeded in defending their shores against the influx of civilization.
First the British later the Indians have both been held at a distance by the Sentinelese, mainly by means of bow and arrow from the shore. An isolation and refusal to succumb lending an impact on the very statue of the tribemembers, being exposed as a more fearless and prouder bodylanguage, akin to the African Zulus, compaired to other Andamanese tribes. Their appearance is indicating an abundance of health, the social interaction between sexes that of tenderness and continuing intimate hugging.
The Onge inhabit Little Andaman, surrounded by coral reefs and the rich marine life: fish, turtles, crocodiles and the Dugong, the herbivorous sea mammal now close to extinction.
Around 1788-89 the Andamanese tribes, with their total population of 5000-8000, were able to resist the first attempt of the British to colonize the Andaman Islands. The colony had to be moved further up to Port Conwallis in the north-east as the resistance from the tribes and the fever made the first attempt on Ross Island futile. At the time of the second arrival of the British in 1858, the Great Andamanese were living in and around Port Blair and other adjoining areas of South Andaman.
The Great Andamanese were in reality not one but ten tribes with separate localities, dialects and names: the Cari, Kora, Jera, Bo, Kade, Kol, Juwai, Pucikwar/Bojigyab, Bea and Balawa. These tribes can be divided into two sub-divisions, a Northern group and a Southern group. All these different tribes were lumped together by the British administrators and outsiders in a broader group named 'Great Andamanese', later to be distinguised from the Jarawa, the Onge and the Sentinelese.
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