Local time: Thu 8:00 AM
Lakshadweep () is a union territory of India. It is an archipelago of 36 islands in the Arabian sea, located 200 to 440 km (120 to 270 mi) off of the mainland's southwestern coast. The name has also been rendered Laccadive , though the Laccadive Islands are just one part of the archipelago. Lakshadweep means "one lakh islands" in Malayalam, the official as well as the widely spoken native language in the territory. The islands form the smallest union territory of India and their total surface area is just 32 km2 (12 sq mi). The lagoon area covers about 4,200 km2 (1,600 sq mi), the territorial waters area 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi) and the exclusive economic zone area 400,000 km2 (150,000 sq mi). The region forms a single Indian district with 10 subdivisions. Kavaratti serves as the capital of the Union Territory and the region comes under the jurisdiction of Kerala High Court. The islands are the northernmost of the Lakshadweep–Maldives–Chagos group of islands, which are the tops of a vast undersea mountain range, the Chagos-Lakshadweep Ridge. The Lakshadweep consisted of 36 islands. But currently there are 35 islands, as the Parali 1 island submerged in water due to sea erosion.As the islands have no aboriginal inhabitants, scholars have suggested different histories for the settlement of these islands. Archaeological evidence supports the existence of human settlement in the region around 1500 BCE. The islands have long been known to sailors, as indicated by an anonymous reference from the first century CE to the region in Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. The islands were also mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka stories of the sixth century BCE. Islam was established in the region when Muslims arrived around the seventh century. During the medieval period, the region was ruled by the Chera dynasty, the Chola dynasty, and finally the Kingdom of Kannur. The Catholic Portuguese arrived around 1498 but were expelled by 1545. The region was then ruled by the Muslim house of Arakkal, who were vassals to the Kolathiri Rajas of Kannur, followed by Tipu Sultan. On his death in 1799, most of the region passed on to the British and with their departure, the Union Territory was formed in 1956. Ten of the islands are inhabited. At the 2011 Indian census, the population of the Union Territory was 64,473. The majority of the indigenous population is Muslim and most of them belong to the Shafi school of the Sunni sect. The islanders are ethnically similar to the Malayali people of the nearest Indian state of Kerala. Most of the population speaks Malayalam with Dhivehi being the most spoken language in Minicoy island. Jeseri dialect is spoken in the inhabited islands of archipelago, namely Amindivi and Laccadive Islands, with an exception of the southernmost island of Minicoy, where the Mahl dialect is used. The Ponnani script of Malayalam was used to write Jeseri until the British Raj. The culture is almost similar to that of Mappilas in the nearest mainland state of Kerala. The islands are served by an airport on Agatti Island. The main occupation of the people is fishing and coconut cultivation, with tuna being the main item of export. Wikipedia ->