History and Geography
Not much is known about the early history of these islands. The islands that were supposed to have been inhabited first are Amini,
Andrott, Kavaratti, and Agatti. It was earlier believed that the islanders were originally Hindus, and later converted to Islam under
the influence of Arab traders, sometime in the 14th century. But Archaeological evidences unearthed indicate that there were Buddhist
settlements around the 6th or 7th century. Earliest Muslim converts or settlers pre-date the year 139 AH of the Hijra year (eighth
century), of which period grave stones have recently been discovered in Agatti. This would tend to bear out the traditional belief that
Islam was brought to the Island by Arab Saint, Ubaidulla in 41 AH.
Probably independent till 16th century, the Islands were driven to seek the assistance of Raja of Chirakal to help them avert establishment
of Portuguese domination. This enabled him to establish his authority, and later, the islands were transferred in jaggier to Ali Raja,
head of Moplah community in Cannanore, who later became an independent ruler himself. The Arakkal rule was not popular and in 1787,
Tipu Sultan acceded to the petitions of the Northern islands to annex these islands. After the fall of Tipu Sultan, the Islands were
passed to East India Company, but continued to be ruled de facto by the rulers of Cannanore, till their ultimate annexation by the
British in the early 20th century. In 1956, the islands were constituted into a single territory, and since then, have been directly
administered by the Union Government through an Administrator. The Laccadives, Minicoy and Amindivi group of islands were renamed as
Lakshadweep in 1973. Lakshadweep, a group of coral islands consist of 12 atolls, three reefs and submerged sand banks. Of the 27
islands, only 11 are inhabited. These lie scattered in the Arabian Sea about 280 km to 480 km off Kerala coast between 8° and
12° 3' North Latitude and 71° and 74° East Longitude.
Coconut is the only major crop with a production of 553 lakh nuts per year. The area under cultivation is about 2,669 hectares.
Lakshadweep coconut is branded as an organic product. In India, Lakshadweep stands first in coconut production, and productivity per
hector is 19,667 per ha, and average yield per palm per year is 97 nuts. The Lakshadweep coconuts are the highest oil content nuts in
the world (82 per cent).
Fishing is another major activity. The sea around the island is highly productive. The islands stand first in the country in per capita
availability of fish. During 2004, 10,300 tonnes of fish have been landed in this U.T.
Coconut fibre extraction and conversion of its fibre products is the main industry in the islands. Under Government Sector, there are
seven coir fibre factories, seven coir production cum demonstration centers, and four fibre curling units, functioning under coir
sector. These units produce coir fibre and coir yarn in addition to other coir products like curled fibre, corridor mat, mat and
matting's. Small coir units are also functioning under private sector in different islands.
At present M.V. Sultan, M.V. Bharat Seema, M.V. Dweep Setu, M.V. Amindivi and M.V. Minicoy handles the passenger traffic in
mainland-island and inter island sector. Two inter-island ferry vessels M.V. Khadeeja Beevi and M.V. Hameedath Bee Provide connectivity
between the Islands except Minicoy island with Kavaratti as base port. The cargo traffic in this sector are handled with four cargo
harges namely M.V. Ubaidulla, M.V. Thinnakara, M.V. Lacadives and M.V. Cheriyam. Further one Oil Barge M.V. Suheli (60 MT) is being
utilised for providing bunker to inter-island ferries. Besides, the Administration operates an ambulance helicopter service between the
islands and to mainland and Indian Airlines connects Agatti island and Kochi daily except Sundays.
The 15 years Perspective Plan for shipping requirements in UTL approved by the Ministry of Shipping. Government of India has
recommended for acquisition of 3x150 passenger high speed vessels, 2x250 passenger cum 100 Mt Cargo ships, one 100/150 MT Oil Barge,
one LPG cylinder ship, eight Landing Barges, one 400 passenger ship and two Bullard Tugs. Further the Government of India has also
sanctioned 3x50 passenger and one 15 passenger high sped inter-island fries under PMGSY scheme. Out of the above Administration has
placed construction orders for 3x150 passenger, 3x50 passenger and one 15 passenger high speed vessels and one 10T Bullard Tug. The
Bullard Tug has been delivered on 9 May 2006 and and will be put in operation shortly. The 15 passenger and 150 passenger vessels are
to be delivered by June 2006, November 2006 and February 2007 respectively. As recommended in the Perspective Plan it is proposed to
acquire 2x250 passenger vessels, six Landing barges, one 150 MT Oil barge, one Bullard Tug and one LPG cylinder ship during 2006-07 and
400 Passenger ship and two Landing Barges during 2007-08.
Tourism in Lakshadweep is developing into an important industry. Important tourist places are Agatti, Bangaram, Kalpeni, Kadmat,
Kavaratti and Minicoy, etc.