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Everything We Know About The North Sentinel Island

Updated on May 9, 2020


North Sentinel Island is located in the Bay of Bengal, which is one of the Andaman Islands. The Andaman Islands are an archipelago, which also includes South Sentinel Island. North Sentinel Island belongs to the South Andaman Administrative district. The district is part of the union of the Indian Territory. So, it is the territory of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

How Many Sentinelese Are There?

Nobody has visited the island, and nobody had come alive out of the island. So, there are no proper estimates regarding the population of the North Sentinel Island. According to the Anthropologists, there are from 80 to 150 people on the island. At maximum, there may be 500 people. At a minimum, there may be 15 people on the island.

How Do They Live?

From the people who approached them at one time or another, it is known that the Sentinelese people live in the lean-to-huts with slanted roofs. They build outrigger canoes in calm-waters of reefs, where they harvest carbs and fish. All in all, they are hunter-gatherers.

Has There Been Contacts of Sentinelese with Modern People?

In 1771, Indian Navy Ship passed by the island, where they saw gleaming lights on the shores of the North Sentinel Island. They did not disturb the islanders because the ship was on a hydrographic survey mission. They could not stop to interact with the indigenous population of the North Sentinel Island.

It was later that the Indian merchant ship, called Nineveh, wrecked. Its 86 passengers and 20 crew members swim to the shores of the North Sentinel Island. At the shores, there was a point made of the point-arrows and bows. This was the point which the victims of the shipwreck could not cross. Victims stayed there for three days on the shores, swimming and living on whatever was available to them.

It was the third day when people of North Sentinel Island decided that they were overstaying at their welcome point. They attacked the victims, to which victims responded with sticks and stones. Later, détente was formed until the Royal Navy vessel came to the rescue of the victims.

Can People of North Sentinel Island Live with Others?

Maurice Vidal Portman, a young Navy officer, took charge of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He arrived at the shores of the North Sentinel Islands with naval officer’s party and convicts of the penal colony. When they reached the North Sentinel Island, they found the hastily abandoned huts. However, one aged couple and four children were left behind. They were taken to Port Blair, but the couple and children fell ill.

The couple died, while children were alive. Children were kept in the colony with food and some gifts. It was known that the people of North Sentinel Island did not have immunity to fight the viruses. So, if they come into our contact, people of North Sentinel Island would die. So, they cannot live with us even if they decide to.


Sentinelese is the indigenous population of the North Sentinel Island, who has maintained their isolation from our modern world. If they come to live with us, they would contract diseases and die. So, they are left alone on their own. The Indian government also respects their desire to live alone. So, the Indian government only monitors the Island remotely.


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