The Lakshadweep is a group of 36 islands. It is India’s smallest Union Territory with an area of 32 sq. km. It is located in the Arabian Sea off the west coast of India. It is known for its exotic and sun-kissed beaches and lush green landscape. The name Lakshadweep in Malayalam and Sanskrit means ‘a hundred thousand islands’.
Formerly this group of islands knows as the Laccadive, Amindivi and Minicoy group of islands was constituted into a Union Territory in 1956 and renamed as Lakshadweep in the year 1973. It is a uni-district territory with its headquarters at Kavaratti.
Ecological Profile of Lakshadweep Islands
1. There are in all 27 islands 3 reefs and 6 submerged sand banks. Only 10 islands are inhabited.
2. The islands have been formed by polyps (A small vascular growth on the surface of a mucous membrane) who are the architects and engineers of these atolls (a chain of islands formed of coral).
3. The reef bio composition is quite significant and includes 114 species of Corals, 42 species of seaweeds, 7 species of seagrasses, 108 species of sponges, 4 species of lobsters, 76 species of echinoderms, 600 species of fin fishes. (According to the data.nodc.noaa.gov)
4. It is home to globally significant populations of green and hawksbill turtles; whale sharks, reef sharks and manta rays; and whales and dolphins.
5. The climatic conditions of the islands are similar to Kerala and the Southwest monsoon and northeast monsoons both contribute their shares of rainfall to these islands.
6. Malayalam is spoken in all the islands except Minicoy where people speak Mahl, which is written in Divehi script.
7. The birds of Lakshadweep play an important role in the functioning of ecosystems. The common birds include the terns, grey heron, curlew, golden plower and sooty.
8. The state animal is the butterfly fish, and the state bird is the sooty tern. The state tree is bread fruit.
9. Coconut, Thenga (Cacos nucifera) is the only crop of economic importance in Lakshadweep.
8. According to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes list (Modification Orders), 1956, the inhabitants of Lakshadweep who and both of whose parents are born in these islands are treated as Scheduled Tribes.
9. Kolkali and Parichakali are the two popular folk art forms of the islands. They are an integral part of the cultural milieu except in Minicoy where “LAVA” is the most popular dance form.
10. As per details from Census 2011, Lakshadweep has population of 64 Thousands, an increase from figure of 60 Thousand in 2001 census. Total population of Lakshadweep as per 2011 census is 64,473 of which male and female are 33,123 and 31,350 respectively.