If you are ready to pack your bags and travel the world, there is one place you should avoid. In fact, it’s actually illegal to go anywhere near North Sentinel Island. Truthfully, there is a very good reason why this is the case.
You might think that sounds a bit extreme, making it illegal to visit an island, but there is some sound logic behind this. The Sentinelese people have not had much contact with other humans in the 60,000 years they’ve lived on the island- and they like to keep it that way. North Sentinel Island is both extremely difficult to access and dangerous for anyone who attempts to do so.
According to Travel and Leisure, “India has banned its citizens from visiting North Sentinel Island or attempting to make contact with the people who live there. Going within three miles of the island is illegal.” However, people still have tried to visit the indigenous tribe.
Through the ’70s, 80s, and 90s, anthropologists sporadically visited the island in hopes of studying the tribe. Not keen on having guests, the Sentinelese people made it clear the outsiders were to keep their distance. The anthropologists would deliver coconuts (which do not grow on the island), pots and pans, live pigs, and plastic toys. However, most of these ‘gifts’ ended up being buried in the sand and avoided by the tribe, they did seem to enjoy the coconuts and used the metal from the pots and pans for their own needs.
North Sentinel Island Visitors and Prisoners
Most people who pass too close to the island are met with arrows and pointed spears. The first recorded instance of someone noticing the populated island was back in 1771, when an East Indian company ship passed by. They were on a survey expedition and had no reason to stop. Therefore, the North Sentinel Island tribesmen and women ignored the vessel.
Approximately a century later was when the Indian merchant ship, Nineveh, ran aground with 86 passengers and 20 crew. Approximately 3 days later the Sentinelese people decided that the foreigners had to leave, and shot arrows at them, hoping they would vacate. Eventually, the British Royal Navy arrived to rescue the Nineveh crew and passengers. While they were at it, they claimed the island as one of Britain’s colonial holdings. Shortly after, in 1880, a Royal Navy officer named Maurice Vidal Portman invaded North Sentinel Island under the guise of anthropology. Most of the tribespeople fled to their huts, but a few were unfortunately too slow to hide. Portman and his crew captured them.