Why Visitors Are Banned From Going to This Isolated Island in the Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean Island
Photo: Thee Tosayanond/Getty Images

On a secluded island in the Indian Ocean, there's a tribe of indigenous people that attacks anybody who attempts to visit. The island has been named both the hardest to visit and the most dangerous on the planet.

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.

The Sentinelese people are known for their violence and unwillingness to communicate with any outsiders. Little is known about the square island where they live, largely because it is covered in forest.

Two fisherman who washed up on shore in 2006 were quickly attacked and murdered by the tribe. When helicopters from the Indian Coast Guard fly overhead — whether on reconnaissance missions or dropping off parcels of food for the people — they are met with arrows and stones.

Nobody is quite sure how many Sentinelese people live on the island — it's estimated to be anywhere between 50 and 100 people. They have lived in seclusion on the island for more than 60,000 years, according to anthropologists.

But, according to one tribal rights group, the Sentinelese are in danger of dying out. Survival International has named the tribe the most vulnerable group of people in the world, as they have not built up immunity to common diseases like the flu.

According to the group, as illegal fisherman and daredevils looking for shipwreck remains inch closer and closer to the island, they risk the health of the tribe. Some anthropologists have expressed worries about tourism booms in neighboring Andaman and Nicobar Islands that could lure people closer to North Sentinel Island.

"The Great Andamanese tribes of India's Andaman Islands were decimated by disease when the British colonized the islands in the 1800s," Survival International's director, Stephen Corry, said in a statement. "The only way the Andamanese authorities can prevent the annihilation of another tribe is to ensure North Sentinel Island is protected from outsiders."

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