NORTH SENTINAL ISLAND
North Sentinel Island is one of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. It lies to the west of the southern part of South Andaman Island, and has an area of 72 km². Officially the island is administered by India as part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory (since 1947).
Detail of 2003 NASA image of North Sentinel Island; the island's protective fringe of coral reefs can be seen clearly. Note this image pre-dates the 2004 tsunami, which caused the uplift and exposure of much of the reef.
North Sentinel Island is home to a tribe of indigenous people, the Sentinelese, whose present numbers are estimated to be anywhere between 50 and 400 individuals. They reject any contact with other people, and are among the last people to remain virtually untouched by modern civilization. Because there has never been any treaty with the people of the island, nor any record of a physical occupation whereby the people of the island have conceded sovereignty, the island exists in a curious state of limbo under established international law and can be seen as a sovereign entity under Indian protection. It is, therefore, one of the de facto autonomous regions of India
The local government (Andaman and Nicobar Islands) has recently stated that they have no intention to interfere with the Sentinelese's lifestyle or habitat. Although the island is likely to have suffered seriously from the effects of the December 2004 tsunami, the survival of the Sentinelese was confirmed when, some days after the event, an Indian government helicopter observed several of them, who shot arrows at the hovering aircraft to repel it.