Falling between the sea route from South India / Sri Lanka to South East Asia and vice-vers, the voyagers referred it as “land of the nake” i.e. Nakkavar which is perhaps the direct Predecessor of the current name “Nicobar’. The medieval Arabic name ‘Lankhabatus’ is a mere mistranscription and misapprehension of “Nankakar or Nakkavar”.
The district was created on August 1, 1974, when it was separated off from Andaman district.
Lord Ram, the hero of epic ‘Ramayana’ is meant to have passed through the Islands during his period of exile )Mathur: 1967). Somdev’s ‘Kathasaritsagar’ (11th century) indicates it as ‘Narikel Dweep’. The islands have also been mentioned in the accounts of travellers like Fahien, (6th century); I-T’sing (early 7th century); Ptolemy (2nd century); Marco Polo (13th century) and Friar Oderic (early 14th century). The islands were known in China as Lo-Jan Kuo (land of the naked people) according to the writings of I-T’Sing. An inscription dated (1059 AD) of the Chola King of Tanjore indicates that these islands were used as base shelter station for waging war and keeping control over South East Asia. The geographical names for the different islands have all obscure, complicated and interesting histories, whereas, each island has a native name too.
The district is designated as an Integrated Tribal District, and is home to significant numbers of indigenous peoples (namely, the Nicobarese and the Shompen, classified as Scheduled Tribes according to the Constitution of India), who form the majority of the district's population. Because of its status as a tribal area, travel to the district is restricted to Indian nationals, and special permit restrictions apply.