The Andaman Islands are a group of Indian Ocean archipelagic islands in the Bay of Bengal, between the Indian peninsula to the west and Burma 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 in the north of the archipelago belong to Burma such as the Coco Islands.
The Andaman Archipelago is an oceanic continuation of the Burmese Arakan Yoma range in the North and of the Indonesian Archipelago in the South. It has 325 islands which cover an area of 6,408 km2 (2,474 sq mi), with the Andaman Sea to the east between the islands and the coast of Burma. North Andaman Island is 285 kilometres (177 mi) south of Burma, although a few smaller Burmese islands are closer, including the three Coco Islands. The Ten Degree Channel separates the Andamans from the Nicobar Islands to the south. The highest point is located in North Andaman Island (Saddle Peak at 732 m (2,402 ft)).
The subsoil of the Andaman islands consists essentially of Late Jurassic to Early Eocene ophiolites and sedimentary rocks (argillaceous and algal limestones), deformed by numerous deep faults and thrusts with ultramafic igneous intrusions. There are at least 11 mud volcanoes on the islands. The climate is typical of tropical islands of similar latitude. It is always warm, but with sea-breezes. Rainfall is irregular, but usually dry during the north-east, and very wet during the south-west, monsoons.
The Middle Andamans harbour mostly moist deciduous forests. North Andamans is characterized by the wet evergreen type, with plenty of woody climbers. The natural vegetation of the Andamans is tropical forest, with mangroves on the coast. The rainforests are similar in composition to those of the west coast of Burma. Most of the forests are evergreen, but there are areas of deciduous forest on North Andaman, Middle Andaman, Baratang and parts of South Andaman Island. The South Andaman forests have a profuse growth of epiphytic vegetation, mostly ferns and orchids.
The Andaman forests are largely unspoiled, despite logging and the demands of the fast-growing population driven by immigration from the Indian mainland. There are protected areas on Little Andaman, Narcondam, North Andaman and South Andaman, but these are mainly aimed at preserving the coast and the marine wildlife rather than the rainforests. Threats to wildlife come from introduced species including rats, dogs, cats and the elephants of Interview Island and North Andaman.
Reptiles and amphibians:
The islands also have a number of endemic reptiles, toads and frogs, such as the South Andaman Krait (Bungarus andamanensis) and Andaman water monitor (Varanus salvator andamanensis). There is a sanctuary 45 miles from Havelock Island for saltwater crocodiles. Over the past 25 years there have been 24 crocodile attacks with 4 fatalities, including the death of American tourist Lauren Failla. The government has been criticized for failing to inform tourists of the crocodile sanctuary and danger, while simultaneously promoting tourism. Crocodiles are not only found within the sanctuary, but throughout the island chain in varying densities.
They are habitat restricted, so the population is stable but not large. Populations occur throughout available mangrove habitat on all major islands, including a few creeks on Havelock. The species uses the ocean as a means of travel between different rivers and estuaries, thus they are not as commonly observed in open ocean. It is best to avoid swimming near mangrove areas or the mouths of creeks; swimming in the open ocean should be safe, but it is best to have a spotter around.
The only airport in the islands is Vir Savarkar Airport in Port Blair, which has scheduled services to Kolkata and Chennai and Delhi, Banglore and Bhubaneswar. The airport is under control of the Indian Navy. Only Daytime flying is allowed.
Due to the length of these routes and the small number of airlines flying to the islands, fares have traditionally been relatively expensive, although cheaper for locals than visitors. Fares are high during peak seasons of spring and winter, but fares have been decreased over the time due to large expansion of aviation industry in India.