inhabited first by Amini, Andrott, Kavaratti and Agatti. It was earlier believed that the islanders
were originally Hindus and later converted to Islam under the influence of Arab traders
sometime in the 14th century. But archaeological evidences unearthed indicate that there were
Buddhist settlements around the 6th or 7th century. Earliest Muslim converts or settlers pre-date
the year 139 AH of the Hijri year (eighth century) of which period grave stones have recently
been discovered in Agatti. This would tend to bear out the traditional belief that Islam was
brought to the Island by Arab Saint, Ubaidulla in 41 AH.
Probably independent till 16th century the Islands were driven to seek the assistance of Raja
of Chirakal to help them avert establishment of Portuguese domination. This enabled him to
establish his authority and, later, the Islands were transferred in jaggeer to Ali Raja, head of
Moplah community in Cannanore, who later became an independent ruler himself. The Arakkal
rule was not popular and in 1787, Tipu Sultan acceded to the petitions of the Northern Islands to
annex these Islands. After the fall of Tipu Sultan, the Islands were passed to East India Company
but continued to be ruled de facto by the rulers of Cannanore till their ultimate annexation by the
British in the early 20th century. In 1956, the Islands were constituted into a single territory and
since then, have been directly administered by the Union Government through an administrator.
The Laccadives, Minicoy and Amindivi Group of Islands were renamed Lakshadweep in 1973.
Lakshadweep, a Group of Coral Islands, consists of 11 inhabited Islands, 16 uninhabited Islands,
3 reefs and 6 submerged sand banks. These lie scattered in the Arabian Sea about 280 km off
Kerala coast between 8o and 12o 3’ North Latitude and 71o and 74o East Longitude.
Coconut is the only major crop with a production of 60 million nuts per year. The area
under cultivation is about 2,689 hectare. Lakshadweep coconut is branded as an organic product.
In India, Lakshadweep stands first in coconut production and productivity per hectare is 20,600
and average yield per palm per year is 82 coconuts. The Lakshadweep coconuts are the highest
oil content nuts in the world (82 per cent).
Fishing is another major activity. The sea around the Islands is highly productive. The
Islands stand first in the country in per capita availability of fish.
Coconut fibre extraction and conversion into fibre products is the main industry in the
Islands. Under Government Sector, there are 7 coir fibre factories, 5 coir production-cum-
demonstration centres and 7 fibre curling units, functioning under coir sector. These units
produced coir fibre and coir yarn in addition to other coir products like curled fibre, corridor mat,
mat and mattings. A few coir twisting units also function in private sector.
At present M.V. Kavaratti, M.V. Arabian Sea, M.V. Lakshadweep Sea, M.V. Bharat Seema,
M.V. Amindivi and M.V. Minicoy accommodate the passenger traffic in mainland-islands and
inter-island sector. Further three 150 Passenger High Speed Vessels (HSC Parali, HSC
Valiyapani and HSC Cheryapani), three 50 Passenger High Speed Vessels (HSC Skip Jack, Hsc
Blue Marlin and HSC Black Marlin), one 15 Passenger High Speed Vessel HSC Viringili and
two 100 passenger Ferry Vessels (M.V. Kadeeja Beevi and M.V. Hameedath Bee) provides