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Lakshadweep - ലക്ഷദ്വീപ്
Seal of Lakshadweep.jpg
status Union Territory
Capital Kavaratti
founding November 1, 1956
( States Reorganization Act )
surface 32 km²
Residents 64,473 (2011)
Population density 2013 inhabitants per km²
languages Malayalam
ISO code IN-LD
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Lakshadweep ( Malayalam ലക്ഷദ്വീപ് Lakṣadvīp ) is an Indian union territory administered by the Indian central government.

It includes the two archipelagos of the Laccadives and Amindives as well as the island of Minicoy southwest of the Indian subcontinent in the Arabian Sea . Its capital is Kavaratti . Lakshadweep comprises 12 atolls and three reefs with a total of 27 islands and an area of ​​32 km². The name Lakshadweep is often translated as “a hundred thousand islands”, but the origin of the name is in fact controversial.


Map of Lakshadweep
One of the uninhabited islands of Lakshadweeps

Geographical location

The islands are located north of the Maldives between 10 ° and 12 ° 20 'north latitude and 71 ° 40' and 74 ° east longitude. They are between 200 and 300 km from the Kerala coast. The southernmost island, Minicoy , is a bit out of the way and is separated from the other islands by the Nine Degree Channel . The archipelago consists of atolls - often ring-shaped - connected with coral reefs and sand islands, all of which are located on the Chagos-Laccadive ridge . Most of the islands rise just above sea level and the highest point is only 5 meters.

Inhabited islands

The 10 inhabited islands are Andrott (4.84 km²), Minicoy (4.39 km²), Kavaratti (4.22 km²), Agatti (3.84 km²), Kadmat (3.12 km²), Kalpeni (2.79 km²), Amini (2.59 km²), Kiltan (1.63 km²), Chetlat (1.14 km²) and Bitra (0.11 km²).

Uninhabited islands

Pitti (0.01 km²), Suheli Par (0.57 km²)


Climate diagram by Minicoy

The warm, humid, tropical climate is significantly influenced by the monsoons . The northeast monsoon lasts from December to March and the rainy season with the southwest monsoon from April to October. Around 80 percent of the total annual amount of precipitation, which is between 1700 and 2000 mm depending on the location, falls between May and November. All other months are arid .

The average annual temperature is between 27.3 and 27.9 degrees Celsius, depending on the location, with only slight fluctuations over the course of the year. The hot temperatures are tempered by sea breezes.

The monsoons occasionally cause floods that partially inundate the islands. The islands are also affected by tropical storms at irregular intervals. B. from Cyclone Thane in December 2011. There has been a weather observation station on Lakshadweep since 1881 and a seismological station since January 31, 2008 , which is supposed to serve, among other things, the early detection of seaquakes and tsunamis .

The flat island archipelago is threatened by rising sea levels as part of climate change.

Flora and fauna

Palm trees on Agatti
Black- spotted rays (
Taeniura meyeni ) in front of Lakshadweep

In the classification by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the archipelago of Lakshadweep is combined with the nearby Maldives and the Chagos Archipelago to form an ecoregion . Taken together, these islands and atolls form the largest atoll and coral reef system in the world.

The natural, original vegetation on the islands is the tropical rainforest and on the nutrient-poor islands salt and drought-resistant bushes and sour grasses ( Cyperaceae ). Hardly anything remains of this original vegetation in Lakshadweep. According to satellite images between December 2006 and March 2007, 26.48 km² (82.75% of the total area) were overgrown with trees. Most of them were coconut palms .

Many species were introduced to the islands and are now indigenous to the islands. Flora and fauna do not show any noteworthy endemic species and the vegetation is characterized as typical of Indo-Pacific coral islands. The only mammals that are indigenous to the islands (apart from an introduced species) are two bat species, the Indian giant flying fox ( Pteropus giganteus ) and a subspecies of the island-flight dog ( Pteropus hypomelanus maris ). Because these cause damage to fruit trees (e.g. mango and guava trees ), some of them are fought by the islanders and are threatened with extinction. The islands are of considerable importance as a habitat for birds. Of particular importance are a subspecies of Paddy Heron ( Ardeola grayii phillipsi ) that Feenseeschwalbe ( Gygis alba monte ), the lesser frigatebird ( Fregata ariel iredalei ), the black-naped tern ( Sterna sumatrana ) that Zügelseeschwalbe ( Onychoprion anaethetus ) and the greater crested tern ( Thalasseus bergii ). As for reptiles in the Maldives-Chagos-Lakshadweep archipelago, there are two half-fingered geckos ( Hemidactylus spp. ), Two agamas (including the bloodsucker agame Calotes versicolar ), a type of skink ( Lygosoma albopunktata ), a subspecies of the wolf tooth snake ( Lycodon aulicus ) The flower pot snake ( Indotyphlops braminus ), a species of frog ( Sphaerotheca rolandae ) and the black- scarred toad ( Bufo melanostictus ). According to the sources, however, it is unclear on which of the islands of the entire archipelago these species can be found.

The WWF has classified the ecosystem of the entire Maldives-Chagos-Lakshadweep archipelago as "critically endangered". The reason for this is the displacement of the native flora and fauna by introduced species (domestic animals, farm animals, rats, mice; useful plants such as coconut palms, sweet potatoes , yams , taro , millet , fruit growing).


Census: 64,473 (2011)
Islands Residents
Kavaratti 11.210  
Andrott 11,191  
Minicoy 10,447  
Amini 7,661  
Agatti 7,521  

According to the 2011 census, the ten inhabited islands of Lakshadweeps were home to 64,473 people. This made Lakshadweep by far the smallest union territory in India. The population density was very high with 2,013 inhabitants per square kilometer. Andrott, Kavaratti, and Minicoy each had more than 10,000 residents.


The main language of Lakshadweep is Malayalam . This Dravidian language is otherwise common in the mainland state of Kerala. On the island of Minicoy , on the other hand, meal is spoken, a dialect of Dhivehi , which is widespread in the Maldives , is closely related to Sinhala and is one of the Indo-Aryan languages .

According to the 2011 Indian census, 84 percent of Lakshadweep's residents speak Malayalam as their first language. Since languages ​​with less than 10,000 speakers are not included in the census, the Dhivehi speakers are not listed separately. However, according to the census, around 9,300 people on Lakshadweep (14 percent of the total population) speak unidentified "other languages". In fact, they are likely to be speakers of the Dhivehi.

Languages ​​in Lakshadweep (2011)
language speaker proportion of
Malayalam 54.264 84.2%
Unidentified 9,311 14.4%
Others 898 1.4%
total 64,473 100%


87.52 percent of the population can read and write, an exemplary literacy rate for India . Every inhabited island has at least one elementary school and, with the exception of the smallest island, Bitra, also has a secondary school.


Religions in Lakshadweep (2011)
religion Relatives proportion of
Islam 62,268 96.6%
Hinduism 1,788 2.8%
Others 417 0.6%
total 64,473 100  %

According to the 2011 census, almost 97 percent of the island's population are followers of Islam . The majority of them belong to the Shafiʿite school . The Muslims are predominantly conservative, but popular Islamic beliefs from Sufism are widespread. The two largest Sufi brotherhoods ( Tarīqas ) are the Qādirīya and the Rifāʿīya . Their leaders are called Tangal and they enjoy a high reputation among the population. The rituals ( Dhikr ) of the Rifāʿī are said to go back to Sheikh Mohammed Kasim Tangal († 1140). There are also small minorities of Wahhabis on Kavaratti and Agatti, as well as supporters of the Ahmadiyya movement on Kalpeni.

Hindus make up almost three percent of the population, Christians and the rest around half a percent.


The culture is dominated by Islam, which however has some peculiarities on Lakshadweep. The indigenous population is officially one of the so-called Scheduled Tribes , the "listed tribal populations", who are granted special minority rights in India.

When the islands were colonized by immigrants who began to live in the 2nd century BC. Translated from the coast of Kerala in India , they brought with them a way of life that was characterized by matrilineal descent (maternal lines). Its Islamization began in the 14th century as a result of the late immigration of Muslims from Kerala, some researchers suspect, while others assume that Islamic influence from mooring sailing ships of South Arabian traders began earlier. Later, the British colonial rulers (from 1799) put the matrilineal descent of extended families into laws that they laid down as opposed to the Islamic preference for patrilinearity .

The land-owning lineages (single lineage groups) of the indigenous islanders call themselves tharavadu , as they can also be found among the matrilineal Muslim Mappila or Moplah in Kerala (compare the Moplah uprising of 1921/22). With the tharavadu , family membership is only determined by the line of the mother, while (communal) land ownership is only passed on to daughters; the common land is understood as the "land of the ancestors". The Lineage of which is passed elders (karnoti) , which are the descendant of a basic trunk mother understood (see ancestor worship ). The parentage group is led and administered by their (mother's) uncle, their eldest brother or their eldest son as head of the family (karanavar) . Both coordinate their decisions and regulate the land use of the family association. Traditionally, the (eldest) brother of a mother feels responsible for his sister's children (his nephews and nieces ), he takes on social paternity for them (compare Avunculat and Uncle ).


It is commonly claimed that the name Lakshadweep is derived from the numeral laksha (cf. lakh ), which means "one hundred thousand", but seems to be exaggerated in connection with this group of islands. In fact, the origin of the name is not clearly established.

Early history

Since there are no written records from the early history of Lakshadweep, the exact time of settlement is still unclear. Legend has it that the ruler Cheraman Perumal , who came from the Malabar coast , converted to Islam, set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca , but never returned. Relatives went in search of him, but were shipwrecked in the Laccadives. They then returned to the Malabar Coast to report their discovery, after which they were given the right to colonize the islands. However, this legend is not historically secured, especially since Cheraman Perumal could have lived long before Islam came into being.

First mentions of some islands that can be assigned to Lakshadweep can already be found in the Periplus Maris Erythraei , written in ancient Greek from the 1st century AD, as well as in writings of the Egyptian geographer Ptolemy from the following century, but they do not provide any information about whether the islands were already inhabited at that time. Indirect references to the settlement are for the first time an old Tamil inscription, which shows that the Pallava king Narasimha Varman II (680–720) conquered the islands. So people must have already lived there by this point in time. The most likely period of settlement today is the 6th century.

The choresmian scholar Al-Biruni also mentioned the islands around the year 1030 in one of his works. Medieval Arabic sources report that the inhabitants sold coconuts to Arab sailors and that the archipelago was regularly visited by traders from India's west coast.


If you believe a legend, the islands were Islamized between 663 and 666 by the Arab missionary Ubaid Allah. Although this is not documented, the conversion of the locals by Arabs seems likely, as Arab seafarers occasionally stopped there on the way to India. What is certain is that Islam did not prevail on the island of Minicoy until around 1200, as this island was heavily influenced by the Maldives . The Maldivian king converted to Islam in 1153. When Ibn Battuta docked at Minicoy in 1346, he found that all of the residents were devout Muslims. However, even after Islamization, the islands remained in the hands of the Hindu Rajas of Chirakkal , who had ruled since the 12th century.

Arrival of the Portuguese

In the early 16th century the Portuguese came to Lakshadweep, whose population suffered badly from the new rulers. Local boats were looted in order to get at the coconut fiber, which was already the main product of the islands for shipbuilding. Many residents were killed in hostilities with the Portuguese, who even briefly owned a fortress on Amini. Instead, they supported the Muslim Raja von Kannur, who was able to secure his claim to power after the Portuguese were driven out.

Rajas of Kannur

The Muslim dynasty of the Ali Rajas ( Ali Raja 'noble ruler', also Adi Raja 'first ruler', or Azhi Raja 'ruler of the sea') of Kannur (Anglicized: Cannonore ) practiced since the 11th / 12th. Century rulership functions on the island archipelago. They were initially vassals of the Kolathiris , the ruling dynasty of the Principality of Chirakkal on the mainland, and paid tribute to it. In practice, however, they acted relatively independently and had extensive trade relations with the Islamic world (Arabia, Persia). The dynasty retained some pre-Islamic customs. For example, the line of succession followed a matrilineal line and the oldest descendant inherited the ruler title, regardless of gender, so that women also ruled (with the female title Beebi or Beevi ). Customs such as a permanently burning, sea-facing flame in the palace ( bhadra deepam ) and other South Indian Hindu traditions continued. The Rajas of Kannur initially administered the islands with the help of the local island chiefs, but later appointed their own governors. During the Seven Years' War , the ruler of Kannur signed an alliance treaty with the British East India Company on March 27, 1759 , which obliged him to provide a contingent of troops. This marked the beginning of British influence on the islands. To cover the expenses, coconut fibers were subject to an export tax in 1764/65. When Haidar Ali launched an invasion of the Malabar coast in 1766 , the Ali Rajas allied with him against the Kolathiris. The victorious Haidar Ali rewarded the Ali Rajas with rulership rights on the mainland. In the Second Mysore War of the Tippoo Sultan , the Ali Rajas sided with Mysore. On December 13, 1783, the British occupied and sacked the palace of the Rajas and took the Beebi as prisoners of war. In a contract dated January 8, 1784, she was reinstated in her rights on the islands and committed to pay war indemnity to the East India Company. The Mangalore Treaty of March 11, 1784 increased the compensation to be paid significantly, against which the Beebi protested in vain. As a result of the payment obligations, the Ali Rajas increased taxes, including on rice imported from the mainland. As a result, there was an uprising on Amini in 1783 against the authorities residing on the distant Malabar coast. Some inhabitants of the island made their way to Mangalore to Tipu Sultan , the ruler of Mysore to ask the administration Amini and the surrounding Aminidivi to assume Islands. Tipu Sultan complied with this wish, regardless of his previous friendship with the Ali Rajas. The remaining islands, however, remained under Kannur's control and the Beebi received compensation. In the Third Mysore War , the Beebi allied themselves again with the British. In a contract on April 11, 1793, she again had to commit to high payments. Kannur's relative prosperity was literally squeezed out by the company.

British colonial rule

After Mysore's defeat by the British in 1799, the British East India Company annexed all of the islands previously under Mysore's rule. In 1847 Andrott was devastated by a devastating cyclone, whereupon the Raja of Kannur, accompanied by a British official, went there to inspect the damage and to assure the population of his support. To repair the enormous damage, the British gave the Raja a loan, but the Raja was unable to pay the high interest. As compensation, in 1861 he gave all islands still in his sphere of control to the British for five years. This was repeated in 1875 and the islands remained under British administration until 1908. In 1908 the Beebi Imbichi finally renounced their rights over the islands. She received an annual pension ( Malikhan ) and kept her princely title of Adi Raja Queen Bulia of Cannanore and sovereign of the Laccadive , which, however, was no longer associated with any actual rights of rule. The corresponding treaty was ratified by the British Indian colonial government in February 1909.

Until the independence of India in 1947, the archipelago remained under the administration of the Madras presidency . The Laccadives and Minicoy belonged to the Malabar district , the Amindives to the South Kanara district (Dakshina Kannada).

After independence

After independence, the archipelago initially remained part of the state of Madras . In 1956, as part of the general reorganization of the states ( States Reorganization Act ), the union territory "Lakkadiven, Amindiven and Minicoy" was established, which has been called Lakshadweep since 1973. The administration moved from Kozhikode to Kavaratti in 1964 , but the most important political decisions are made by the Indian central government in New Delhi .

Economy and Infrastructure


The population lives mainly from fishing , the cultivation of coconut palms , and the mostly manual processing of coconut fibers. Coconut palms, which cover about 85 percent of the surface of the inhabited islands, are the only economically important crops that thrive in large numbers on the islands.

The only industrial operations are the seven factories that use coconut fiber and the like. a. processed into coconut mats, as well as a tuna canning factory on Minicoy .

Although Lakshadweep, like the Maldives, could be a dream destination for vacationers, especially divers, tourism is only of minor importance. Foreigners are only allowed to enter the islands with a special permit, whereby the Indian government deliberately keeps the number of entry permits low. Only the actually uninhabited island of Bangaram is open to foreign tourists. There is a holiday complex there. This is also the only place in Lakshadweep that is allowed to consume alcohol. Prohibition applies to the rest of the islands , i.e. a complete ban on the consumption and sale of alcohol.

The Indian Naval Station Dweeprakshak ( INS Dweeprakshak , in German "Protector of the Island") is the largest military base of the Indian Armed Forces in the Indian Ocean.


Agatti airfield

Until 1959 only small sailing ships operated between the archipelago and the mainland. The connection to the mainland was particularly problematic during the monsoons , as shipping traffic had to be interrupted during this time. Only since 1970 has Lakshadweep been called by larger passenger and transport ships during the monsoon season. Catamaran ferries have been operating between the individual islands since 1992 .

There is a regular flight connection between Kochi and Agatti. For medical emergencies etc. A helicopter service was set up in 1987, which connects the islands both with each other and with the mainland.

Road traffic plays a subordinate role due to the tiny land area. In total, Lakshadweep has more than 250 km of roads and bike paths.

power supply

The supply of electricity to the islands is a major problem. The islands began to be electrified in the 1960s and now 100% of private households are connected to the electricity grid. Most of the electricity has so far been generated by central diesel generators, whose raw material requirements can only be covered by expensive imports from the mainland. In 2001 around 7 million liters of diesel fuel had to be imported from the mainland, mainly via Kozhikode (Calicut). Due to the irregular ship connections, large diesel fuel stores have to be kept on the islands, which contain enough fuel for several months. Dealing with such large quantities poses a significant risk of pollution and disruption of the fragile ecosystem. Due to the high temperatures, diesel generators cannot be operated at full load, which reduces the efficiency of energy generation.

Installed capacities for energy generation in Lakshadweep in kW
year Diesel
2001 9368 685
2012 16,410 2160
2019 26,820 6800

Basically, Lakshadweep has a high potential in terms of renewable energies , especially solar energy and wind energy . The average solar radiation in Lakshadweep is 4932 kWh / m² / d . This corresponds to about four to five times the average value in Germany (900 - 1200 kWh / m² / d). A first small solar test system was installed on the island of Bitra in 1988 and further systems on various islands followed in the years to come. A disadvantage of solar energy systems is a relatively high space requirement, which is a problem on the densely populated islands with their coconut palms. The Indian government is aiming to equip all houses with solar modules by 2022, so that 10 MW of energy can be generated.

The average wind speed on Lakshadweep is relatively constant, between 3.1 and 8.5 m / s and is highest in the months of June to August. A first attempt with a 15 meter high wind turbine on Kavaratti in the 1990s was disappointing. The main problem was the lack of technical maintenance options on the remote islands. All spare parts had to be brought over hundreds of kilometers. The current plans envisage the installation of three 250/220 kW wind turbines on Kavaratti, the operation of which is to be secured through corresponding maintenance contracts.

A 250 kW biogas plant is also in operation on Kavaratti , which primarily uses the abundant waste from the coconut trees.


  • 2017: Janaki Abraham: Setting Sail for Lakshadweep: Leela Dube and the Study of Matrilineal Kinship . In: Indian Journal of Gender Studies . tape 24 , no. 3 , October 8, 2017, p. 438–454 , doi : 10.1177 / 0971521517716813 (English, PDF: 232 kB, 18 pages - assistant professor at the Department of Sociology DSE at the University of Delhi).
  • 1999: V. Vijayakumar: Customary laws of Lakshadweep Islands . Ed .: School of Legal studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology. February 1999, chap. 1 ( online at Shodhganga - Dissertation).
  • 1995: Leela Dube: Matriliny and Islam in Lakshadweep . In: India International Center Quarterly . tape 22 , no. 2/3 . India International Center, 1995, p. 168-180 , JSTOR : 23003944 .
  • 1969: Leela Dube, Abdul Rahman Kutty, Shyama Charan Dube: Matriliny and Islam: Religion and Society in the Laccadives . National, Delhi 1969 ( searchable in google book search).

Web links

Commons : Lakshadweep  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Maldives-Lakshadweep-Chagos Archipelago tropical moist forests. WWF, accessed July 9, 2017 .
  2. ^ Thane Cyclone in Cuddalore (30/12/2011). YouTube video, January 19, 2012, accessed July 8, 2017 .
  3. ^ India Meteorological Department [RS / RW Observatory]., archived from the original on August 11, 2017 ; accessed on July 9, 2017 (English).
  4. ^ V. Sampath: Lakshadweep: State of Environment. GeographyandYou, accessed December 4, 2018 .
  5. India State of Forest report 2009: 7.34 Lakshadweep. (PDF) Retrieved on July 9, 2017 (English).
  6. a b Census Lakshadweep 2011: Lakshadweep Population Census 2011-2018. Census Population 2015 Data, accessed December 4, 2018.
  7. Census of India 2011: C-16 Population By Mother Tongue. Lakshadweep.
  8. ^ Census of India 2011: C-1 Population By Religious Community. Lakshadweep.
  9. ^ Theodore Gabriel: The Sufi Tariqas of the Lakshadweep Islands, India. ISIM Newsletter, 2, 1999
  10. Liazzat JK Bonate: Islam and matriliny along the Indian Ocean rim: Revisiting the old 'paradox' by comparing the Minangkabau, Kerala and coastal northern Mozambique . In: Journal of Southeast Asian Studies . tape 48 , no. 3 , October 2017, p. 436–451 , here p. 439 , doi : 10.1017 / S0022463417000571 (English).
  11. Liazzat JK Bonate: Islam and matriliny along the Indian Ocean rim: Revisiting the old 'paradox' by comparing the Minangkabau, Kerala and coastal northern Mozambique . October 2017, p. 436–451 , here p. 446 .
  12. Liazzat JK Bonate: Islam and matriliny along the Indian Ocean rim: Revisiting the old 'paradox' by comparing the Minangkabau, Kerala and coastal northern Mozambique . October 2017, p. 436–451 , here p. 448 .
  14. a b c K.KN Kurup: Ali Rajas of Cannanore, English East India Company and Laccadive Islands . In: Indian History Congress (Ed.): Proceedings of the Indian History Congress . 32 (II), 1970, pp. 44-53 , JSTOR : 44138504 (English).
  15. Prakash Chandra Verma: People's Dialogue on Education . In: People's Dialogue on Education . tape 8 , no. 1 . Politicindia, January 2016, ISSN  0974-5955 (English).
  16. a b c d e Strategy plan for 100% RET utilization in Lakshadweep Island. Tata Energy Research Institute et al., Accessed on July 18, 2016 (English, Report No. 2001RT41).
  17. ^ Power Plants. Department of Electricity, August 31, 2012; archived from the original on July 9, 2016 ; accessed on July 18, 2016 .
  18. a b 24X7 POWER FOR ALL LAKSHADWEEP ISLANDS - A Joint Initiative of Government of India and Administration of UT of Lakshadweep. (PDF) Retrieved July 18, 2016 (English).
  19. ↑ Sun map - geographical location. Renewable Energy Concepts, accessed July 18, 2016 .
  20. a b Renewable Energy. Department of Electricity, August 31, 2012; archived from the original on July 9, 2016 ; accessed on July 18, 2016 .

Coordinates: 10 ° 34 '  N , 72 ° 38'  E