The Jarawa are a small society of hunter-gatherers who live on the isolated Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal. Their present population is estimated at between 250-350 people.
Before the 19th century, the Jarawa homelands were located in the southeast part of South Andaman Island and nearby islets. With the establishment of the initial British settlement, these are suspected to have been largely depopulated by disease shortly after 1789. The Great Andamanese Peoples were similarly decimated by disease, alcoholism and alleged British government-sponsored destruction,leaving open the western areas which the Jarawa gradually made their new homeland.
Prior to their initiating contact with settled populations in 1997, theJarawa vigorously maintained their independence and distance from external groups, actively discouraging most incursions and attempts at contact. Since 1998, they have been in increasing contact with the outside world and have increasingly been the choosers of such contact. All contact, especially with tourists, remains extremely dangerous to the Jarawa due to the risk of disease.
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