Located three hundred kilometres off the coast of Kerala in the Arabian Sea, this group of thirty-five islands is India's smallest Union Territory, with a population of about 52,000. Only ten of the islands are inhabited, these by a 93% Sunni Muslim population which speaks Malayalam. It is believed that they are converts from Hinduism who came from Kerala in the 7th century. They were taken over first by the Portuguese in the 16th century and later by the British, who relinquished control at Independence.
Their main source on income is coir made from coconut fibers, which is sold on the mainland. Fruits and vegetables are grown on the islands, and the diet of the islanders is heavily fish-centered, with most other food and daily-use goods brought from the mainland.
Foreigners can go only to Bangaram Island, which is a tiny and still unspoiled tropical paradise with limited and quite expensive accommodation. There are no restaurants or shops - hotels provide food.
Permits and transportation (by air then by boat) can be arranged from Kochi in Kerala.