Mysterious North Sentinel Island

Without a doubt, the most fascinating island in the entire Andaman and Nicobar chain is the mysterious North Sentinel, an island off limits to both foreigners and Indians alike. The tribal North Sentinelese are considered by many to be the most isolated people on Earth. Most attempts by the Andaman tribal authorities to contact the North Sentinelese have been greeted with a very clear answer of angry arrows. Yikes! In response, the Indian government has stopped their attempts to contact the tribe. In 2006, Sentinelese archers killed two fisherman who were illegally fishing near the island. Clearly these people want to be left alone.

North Sentinel Island

Very little is known about the North Sentinelese. No single word of their language has been recorded. Like the Onge, the Jarawa, and the Andamanese, the North Sentinelese are classified as negrito and look much more like Africans than Asians. They are believed to be some of the earliest peoples to have migrated across Asia. Virtually nothing is known or understood about their culture.

Since most of the tribal people in the Andamans are completely off-limits, a trip to the anthropological museum in Fort Blair is an absolute must. The tiny museum features a fascinating presentation of video footage of 60s and 70s expeditions to visit the Jarawa, Onge, Andamanese, Shompen and Nicobarese as well as – drumroll – early attempts to contact the North Sentinelese. If you don’t happen to be island hopping in the Andaman Sea, I’ve embedded a short Youtube video of this initial contact. Don’t miss this one!

Video in Turkish, but contains a closer cut of the footage

More on North Sentinel Island

In 1981, the MV Primrose ran aground on the reefs off of North Sentinel Island. Luckily for the crew, rough seas kept the North Sentinelese from reaching the stranded ship before the crew could be airlifted to safety. Capt. Robert Fore, one of the two pilots in that rescue mission, contacted us with a link to his account of that rescue mission as well as some aerial photos of the rescue. Very cool piece of history. He also left a comment in the comment section below.

61 responses to “Mysterious North Sentinel Island”

  1. avatar Gaurrav dhar says:

    I am really amazed that something like this is so close to India….and we have not tried to understand or communicate with this tribe.

  2. who says we have not tried to communicate with them? do some searches on google and you will find that there were hundreds of attempts to communicate with them. Lots of gifts offered. They take the gifts and that’s it, any attempt to get any closer to them is met with arrows. Even fairly recently they killed 2 fishermen. Obviously they are NOT interested in communicating with us. If I had my family living on a beautiful island like theirs, personally I think I might do the same thing. Why would I want my island to be overrun with a bunch of greedy morons?

  3. avatar Tony says:

    Yes, we have seen photos of recent attempts to contact the North Sentinelese as well. I really wish everyone would just leave these people alone. Contact has certainly not helped the Jarawa, the Onge, or the Andamanese. And I think the North Sentinelese have made it clear that they want to be left alone.

  4. avatar David Ghosh says:

    Why need to know about the ancient tribes of North Sentinel Island,why we should disturb them? They don’t want any help or any thing from ugly society of dirty civilization.
    We people are talking tall but we are dirty and ugly too. We know destruction only and damage environment,nature and many more.
    I believe,human being and so call civilized societies are most dangerous and cruel creature on earth.They are much better and wise.
    Let them live freely and die according to their whim.Why disturb?
    Not necessary.

  5. avatar jariusjames says:

    modern people weere just too curious about thier culture so most of the people wants to contact them. and of course, modern people are craving for popularity. the first one to contact these locals will be hailed like god. (which they dreamed about) and the island might have something to make them rich! lets face it! reality bites.

    • avatar Tony says:

      They have been contacted on several occasions, but they don’t usually respond well. Normally, they answer with arrows.

  6. avatar jariusJames says:

    I say we should bom dem

  7. avatar padshagger says:

    I say we take off and nuke the entire island from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  8. avatar James says:

    “I say we take off and nuke the entire island from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

    Oh, what a good idea, you idiot! What would be the motive for your evil savagery? What would you be trying to accomplish, and why?

    Re:”I say we should bom dem.”

    I say you should learn how to spell (and probably speak).

    • avatar padshagger says:

      Sorry for the very late reply but “fuck you” James. Seems my comment went so far over your dumb head that it suffocated and died in the vacumm of space…

  9. avatar Rational says:

    James, I’m pretty sure both of those comments were meant to be sarcastic/tongue-in-cheek…

  10. avatar bla bla says:

    recent photos on Google Earth show a photo of a lighthouse on North Sentinel island. A building!

    • avatar Tony says:

      Really??? I just searched the coast using Google maps and I can’t see anything. Is it a new construction within the last year or two?

  11. avatar Finlay says:

    The lighthouse is on Sentinel Island, Canada… NOT North Sentinel Island – different place 🙂

  12. avatar boz gurumayum says:

    I really wish no one introduce the financial system and religions. Hope everyone leave them alone. That’s the least we can do to help preserve something that is pure. (remember what did the coke bottle do to a group of happy men and women in “God Must Be Crazy”)
    Those who think otherwise please continue screwing the already screwed.

  13. avatar Tim says:

    These people need to be left alone. They obviously don’t want interaction from outsiders. Any time we try to “help” people in these situations, we end up completely destroying them out of our own greed and stupidity.

  14. avatar james says:

    why do we need to contact these people and communicate with them???


    I think our exploratory instinct needs to be controlled a little. We spend way to much time effort and, most of all, money on trying to push our way into other people’s business.

    They clearly don’t want to be intruded upon, so DONT!!!

  15. avatar Pallidin says:

    I agree. They should be left alone, to live their life in peace apart from us.

  16. avatar Tiara says:

    I think this place and people should be left alone and not to be explored and ruined like the way its being done to Antarctica

  17. avatar Thomas says:

    Why not just observe them with som kind of island-adapted device similar to a Mars-rover with cameras and microphones?

  18. avatar Tim says:

    Right, these ‘inhabitants’ are clearly aggressive and owe use hundreds of coconuts. We should be sending navy seal teams in to hunt them down, one by one. Their spears are no match for us. They started his war by refusing to allow us onto their island and now it’s time to finish it.

    This is the only way we can preserve the island for our logging teams.

  19. avatar Jazzie D says:

    Coconuts and all aside, this island should be used for tourism. Kill them all, embalm them and put them in a museum, based in one of their preserved villages. It would make a mint, a kind of human ‘Jurassic’ Park. Alternatively much like the film keep them caged in to enclosures with electric fences. They fierce ugly though so maybe we should breed them with Aryans to make them a little cuter.
    At the end of the day no hostile humans should be allowed to live freely.
    Look what happened with the Nazi’s.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Equally weird comment. Judging by the ip address, I wonder it’s not related to the one above.

  20. avatar Jazzie D says:

    Are you serious, go to so much trouble for a few coconuts? Whoever Tim is he is clearly a bit of a coconut himself.
    Utterly unrelated I can assure you.
    Whats an IP address?

  21. avatar Brent says:

    The island, in the language of the people themselves is Chiö-tá-kwö-kwé.

    This name was discovered from a ‘Sentinelese’ living with the Onge in about 1880.

    But we don’t know what they call themselves.

    Personally I believe the present inhabitants are not the original ones. In the 1800’s they were reported as having longer hair and they laways fled visitors. Now they have short hair like the Jangil and always fight and threaten. Incidently, the Jangil have disappeared. It’s my guess they fled Rutland Island in the last 1880’s and took over Chiö-tá-kwö-kwé.

    There’s no proof, but it is as likely as any other thing people could imagine.

  22. avatar John McC says:

    They had better pray to whatever deity they worship, that no oil is discovered anywhere near them.
    It would probably mean their eradication.

  23. avatar Ageless Voice says:

    I think King Kong lives there

  24. avatar Charles says:

    Its only a matter of time before UAV’s start flying over the island. You can buy them for a few hundred dollars on Amazon. The plane tickets and boat it takes to get nearby will be another matter. I’m glad we are leaving them alone…each contact with them just exposes them to another disease and potential decimation.

  25. avatar FranZ says:

    Why do some people ways want to intrude on others lives? The inhabitants of this island don’t bother anyone and they clearly do not want anyone bothering them. Their lives should be respected.

  26. avatar FranZ says:

    Leave these people alone.

  27. avatar MarkG says:

    There are Christian groups that want to invade the island, to bring the Good News of Christianity to the islanders. Some are even saying that they believe it’s God’s will that they do so, and are actually offended by suggestions that this might be wrong. LEAVE THESE PEOPLE ALONE!

  28. avatar Mathew says:

    Folks, leave these people alone! If they have no religion, feel happy for them. At least they are a free people, free from irrational beliefs we push on our children, and at least they are innocent from the ills of capitalism and modern day civilization. We have to accept these people as they are and leave it as that… If you believe in God and life, you will see that He has a purpose for these people. Perhaps that is where the last wisdom of world is hidden away for a special time.

  29. avatar shali says:

    may be they may survive, when we die once

  30. avatar Fred Limcako says:

    The modern world is coming to the Sentinel people.As the world and particularly Asia needs more resources and living space,it will come sooner or later.I can imagine in 50 years the people there will be very different to today.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Yes, especially when we see what is happening with the other tribes in the Andamans, I suspect you are right. However, I don’t think the tribe will make it easy.

  31. avatar Fred Limcako says:

    There will be resistance at first.However when the modern world brings ts weapons and shows of force,the people there will be made to submit albeit unwillingly.Then the people will slowly but surely adapt to the newcomers and their ways.Especially the younger generation.

  32. avatar Bob S says:

    Someone will see potential profit and intrude on these people. Probably some great timber there. Perfect place for an all-inclusive resort. There might be some chemicals worth mining. Cheap labor source. Has anyone drilled for oil yet? Maybe a good spot for ICBMs?

  33. avatar Maynard James Keenan says:

    There’s a reason why they don’t welcome outsiders. They might be guarding something. Huge piles of treasures left by explorers maybe? Or maybe the island is the real El Dorado and Hernan Cortez was wrong about it?

    But anyway I don’t think we can just leave them alone. We need to understand the place because it might be the last pieces of puzzle we have yet to learn about our planet. Maybe there’s a bunch of endemic animal species we don’t know about?

  34. avatar Aaina says:

    I have lived in Port Blair as a kid in the late 80’s and I met some Ongees (that was a tribe that was “civilized” by the Indian Govt) and let me tell you how that turned out, they were addicted to alcohol, forgot their language and were posing for pictures with tourists for a few rupees, now that was 30 years ago and now most of them have been died and their tribe will cease to exist. Leave those people ALONE. they have survived there for thousands of years and DON’T Need us.
    The only thing they are hiding is from IDiots like us. Remember what happened to the NAtive Americans (Thanks Columbus!). My children are part native American and its sad to see how the heritage has been detroyed.
    The so called civilized society we live in is not that civilized, we have single handedly made thousands of species extinct, desttoyed ecosystems, killed the aborigines, natives in many countries and created a world riddled with diseases, stress, violence and material greeds.
    Who wants that? And never forget contact from people also exposes them to diseases they have no immunity from as in the case of the NAtive Americans, who were killed by the Europeans bringing in Small Pox, syphillis and different viruses.

  35. avatar Aaina says:

    Well sorry for the typos, I get so worked up when I read stupid comments like “Lets get their GOLD or treasures!! WTF, really?
    well maybe they have oil, lets kill them all and fill our gas tanks! OYEVAY!!
    When the Tsunami hit in 2005, they all survived unlike the civilized people! They had been told by elders, that when the sea recedes, you go to higher grounds. It would be from having seen tsunamis in past centruies and such. What did we civilized people do? Run towards the receeding sea.
    So really who is smarter?
    Why dont all of you who want to”invade” these islands go back to watching “Keeping up with KArdashians” or such smut and zip your pieholes.
    Thank you
    (steps off Soapbox!)

  36. avatar Capt. Robert Fore says:

    For visitors to your website, my name is Capt. Robert Fore. I found this page while researching North Sentinel website postings. I am the pilot that flew the air/sea rescue operation to save the crew of the Primrose in August of 1981.

    We have been making efforts to bring even more information to light about the rescue of the Primrose crew, and any new information concerning the island and its inhabitants.

  37. avatar Saeed says:

    I really have a strong feeling that flight MH370 crash landed on the island and the locals killed them all and made good use of the plane 🙂

  38. avatar ISHWAR says:

    Please do not disturb them.. we the civilized people are going to the way of self destruction. At least they are staying in peace. Let them stay peacefully…

  39. avatar Mark G says:

    I have also heard the tales of how MH 370 had landed on North Sentinel Island, and spin your own weird tale from there. The fact remains that there is no airstrip on the island, no evidence of one, no evidence of a plane there, no reports of people marooned there. The island is even too small for a plane of that size to have made any sort of emergency landing there.

  40. avatar Tshepo C says:

    now there is this conspiracy that the MH370 landed there so we can go and intrude those wonderful people. if only Africa did what North Sentinel did, kill all intruders.leave those rich people alone, they even knew how to detect a tsunami.

  41. avatar Richard V says:

    Most people advocate leaving them alone. Why? Perhaps so they can live beautiful lives on their little island. Unfortunately, given their very stable population (just do the math for that), they clearly have a very high infanticide rate, unless they routinely engage in other ways to kill enough of their neighbors to control the population growth rate. Logic indicates that they have extremely short life spans, quickly die of diseases that are common in most of the world, and have no practical technology (e.g., effective apothecary skills). Trying to communicate with them would produce no insights. They are simply the dumbest people on earth. They probably believe in global warming. Nevertheless, if we could manage to plant some listening devices in fake rocks, linguists could learn a lot about how this example of the uncreative class uses language (probably stupidly). I’ll bet they don’t count past five.

  42. avatar July says:

    Bunch of dumb hippies on this site. seriously, fuck those savages. how about this… send in a drone. fly low and film a documentary with no direct contact. you peace loving hippies happy with that ?! personally, I say drive in a tank rigged with cameras and riot control guns. shoot rubber bullets and bean bags at em if they get all stupid with their ” bow and arrows” (sooo scary) Not like their kind will last anyways. Anyone ever heard of inbreeding and how badly damaged their genes will eventually become. HA! In the end the jokes on them when they all slowly kill themselves. all because they’re to coward to face the world and leave their stupid little island.

  43. avatar July says:

    Richard V. Seems to be the only logical human being on this site.

  44. avatar Tony says:

    Judging by some of these HORRIFIC comments, there is a very good reason why the North Sentinelese shoot people from the outside world on sight. However, we are choosing to publish these comments because it is a real reminder of what kind of terrible human beings might show up if protections are removed.

  45. avatar July says:

    We should drop Tony on the island with a dagger. see how much he likes the them then and if he’s too coward to even use the blade. Human with no spine make me sick.

  46. avatar July says:

    at least the Sentinelese have BALLS I’ll give them that.

  47. avatar k.subramanian says:

    I was residing in andamans since 1980 for more than two decades and observed the tribal population and the administrations efforts to uplift the tribal population.I consider these efforts of the administration face and futile and found that the tribal population were taught only bad habits of alcohol,tobacco,begging etc. Better let us leave them to preserve their culture and tradition.tradition. We are seriously trying to destroy them. It is true.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Thanks for leaving you comment on this article. It is good to hear that there are locals in the Andamans who support leaving the tribal groups in the alone.

  48. avatar Walter says:

    If there are only 400 people living on that island and they have not had any outside contacts since 60.000 years, how have they kept their genetics intact? With such a limited gene pool during so many centuries everybody must be closely related to everyone else.

  49. avatar Jakub says:

    Sending any men to that island is the worst idea that could get into human head, but apart from that, curiosity almost makes me want to go there.
    Maybe it isn’t such bad idea to investigate the tribe and stay stealth so they won’t notice us?
    I mean, it’s the last reserve of humanity in it’s crib.
    They could teach us, not the other way around. Because we all walk on the same planet and face similiar problems.
    Existence in itself.

  50. avatar Edward B Murphy says:

    Hi Tony,

    I am fascinated with this tribe – Do you know if there are high resolution satellite imagery of the interior?
    Where is there fresh water? Do we know from Jarawa n Onge how the give birth/burial…flora fauna? Izf you have any elands on this kind of info i’d love the link. For many years i have been transfixed by the Sentinelese…I imaging a silent drone swooping in unnoticed filming their lair.
    thanks. Ted Murphy/Mipls,Mn/USA

  51. avatar Trev UK says:

    Amazing island and survival skills from the inhabitants of this place. It definitely needs to be preserved the way it is.. Very interesting stuff though and very curious about them.

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