Young Pioneer Tours are famous for taking people to ‘places your mother would rather you stayed away from’, but there are some places that, regardless of what your mother thinks, you really shouldn’t go to. North Sentinel Island is one of those places.
North Sentinel Island is part of the Andaman Islands, a bunch of islands owned and administered by India. Overall, the islands are rather pleasant to visit and popular with tourists. They feature a stunningly diverse ecology and are very ethnically diverse.
On North Sentinel Island, the ‘locals’ are one of a handful of remaining uncontacted peoples on earth. To say that they’re hostile to outside contact would be quite the understatement.
North Sentinel Island: a history
In the past, North Sentinel fell under the remit of the British Empire. As was the wont of said Empire, the British visited several times in a bid to bring a bit of good old-fashioned ‘civilisation’ to the locals. This never ended very well, and plenty of people died before everybody decided it might be best if the North Sentinelese were left to their own devices. Since then only one visit has been successful – that of an Indian Anthropological Survey director and his colleagues, who visited without violence on January 4th, 1991.
In 1997 the Indian government made the decision to stop any and all people visiting the island, and let the locals live in seclusion.
The Sentinelese were greatly affected by the 2004 tsunami, in which it was estimated that half of their population were wiped out.
North Sentinel Island in recent times
With the official government policy being that people are not allowed to visit North Sentinel Island, the locals have been left to get on with things, right? Not quite. In 2006, two Indian fishermen illegally fishing in the waters just off North Sentinel were killed by the islanders. No one was prosecuted, and the official policy of leaving the islanders be was continued.
The last known person to attempt to contact them was an American by the name of John Allen Chau, a missionary who wished to visit the island and spread the word of God. He was also killed by the islanders.
Interestingly this and other killings are where the myth that murder is legal on the island come from. Of course they are not legal, but no one has ever been prosecuted for any killings due to the islanders having the right to defend themselves. Not all that different to Texas…..
Is North Sentinel Island a country?
The short answer to this is no, North Sentinel Island is not a country, but it is a very special case in itself. Officially North Sentinel Island is a an integral part of India, but in real terms it is independent and is not governed by the laws of the Republic of India.
In real terms though were the North Sentinelese ever to make contact with the outside world they would fall under the jurisdiction of India.
To read our criteria for what counts as a country click here
This does though make it perhaps one of the most unique places on earth regarding governance and indeed independence.
Can you travel to North Sentinel Island?
Technically anything is possible, but should, can and will are very different things. Firstly it is strictly illegal to come, but more importantly travel to the islands are extremely dangerous, even if god does tell you it is safe to come here.
Does YPT offer North Sentinel Island Tours ?
Visit North Sentinel Island yourself on one of our exclusive tours! Do not visit North Sentinel Island under any circumstances; this is a terrible idea. Instead, go to one of the many destinations we offer that do not run the risk of being pin-cushioned.