The Nicobar Islands
Table of Contents
Everywhere in the Nicobar islands the majority of people are Nicobari, with the exception of Indian officials, army personnel and more or less legal immigrants from "outer India".
There is only one other native population but they are few in numbers, live only on one island (Big Nicobar) ans are rarely seen: the Shompen.
The Shompen language was until recently regarded as merely another Nicobarese dialect. Nicobarese is a language rich in highly divergent dialects. Each Nicobar island has at least one.
However, the Shompen are living very secluded lives with little contact to outsiders. A team of linguists has recently discovered that the real Shompen language spoken among themselves is not the "Shompen language". It is now thought that "Shompen" may just have been an accented version of Nicobarese, spoken by the Shompen as a "foreign language"!). The real Shompen may in fact be a language isolate, i.e. a language not related to any other known language! See
Great Nicobar and its populations
reddish area: cocentration of Nicobari population in the 1990s
red dots: main Indian settlements
black dots: Shompen settlements in the 1990s
black circles: abandoned Shompen settlements in the 1990s
black line: road
See also The Shompen People
Click on a map below to get an enlarged view
Last changed 1 January 2009