Nancowry Island

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Nancowry (Hindi: नन्कोव्री Nankovri) refers both to a single island and to the group of adjoining islands that make up the central part of the Nicobar Islands chain, located in the northeast Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

The island itself is 67 km², and located at 7°59.21′N 93°32.86′E / 7.98683°N 93.54767°E / 7.98683; 93.54767, approximately 160 km south-southeast of Car Nicobar, the northernmost Nicobar island. Nancowry, like the Nicobar islands generally, is under the sovereignty of the nation of India. It is also part of the Nicobar and Andaman Tribal Reserve Area, which bars non-native people from visiting or conducting business on the island without permission in hopes of preserving the threatened native communities that live there ([1]). The Moravian Brethren of Herrnhut attempted a mission here in the late 1700s in conjunction with the Danish Crown. As of 2001, the Indian census catalogued 1,111 persons living on Nancowry island ([2]).

With Kamorta (Camorta) Island, which lies just to the North, Nancowry Island forms the "magnificent land-locked" Nancowry Harbour ([3]), used by European sailors since at least the 17th century and described as "one of the safest natural harbours in the world" ([4]). The harbour was apparently used as a base for piracy; in 1868, the British Navy entered the harbour in some force, destroying suspected pirate ships ([5]).

The island, like many others in the Nicobar and Andaman islands, was severely affected by tsunamis generated by the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake. According to reports from the Andaman and Nicobar Inspector General of Police, S.B. Deol, the Nancowry group islands were among the worst-hit islands in the chain, with thousands missing and presumed dead ([6]). Post-tsunami satellite photos ([7], [8]) and government situation reports indicate that while portions of Nancowry Island were affected, the adjoining islands of Katchall and Kamorta were more severely overrun. As of January 18, 2005, the government reported only 1 dead and 3 missing from Nancowry island, but 51 dead and 387 missing from Kamorta, and 345 dead and 4310 missing from Katchall ([9]).

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