Lakshadweep is a group of islands with a total land area of 32 sq km scattering over an area of 77,700 sq km of the Arabian Sea. It is the smallest union territory in India. Lakshadweep was formerly known as Laccadive Islands. The name Lakshadweep means 'a hundred thousand islands' in Malayalam language and also in Sanskrit. Lakshadweep has a population of 51,707; more than 93% of them are Muslims. The native people speak Malayalam except in
Minicoy Island where they speak Mahl which is written in Divehi script.
Kavaratti is the administrative capital of Lakshadweep. The islands come under the jurisdiction of the Kerala High Court. Lakshadweep consists of ten inhabited and 17 uninhabited islands, some attached islets, four newly formed islets and 5 submerged reefs. Kavaratti, Agatti,
Amini, Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlat, Bitra, Andrott, Kalpeni and Minicoy are the inhabited islands.
The history of Lakshadweep is mostly based on myths. It is believed that the first settlement on these islands was made by Cheraman Perumal, one of the early kings of Kerala, who had been once shipwrecked on the stormy Arabian Sea. Fifty two mosques are there in Lakshadweep, among them the most beautiful is the
Fishing, coconut cultivation and coir making are the major occupations of the inhabitants. Four of the inhabited islands, Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Minicoy and Kadmath, are open to Indian tourists and Bangaram, an uninhabitated island, is open to both domestic and foreign tourists. Cattle, poultry and oceanic birds are the commonly seen vertebrates. There are milk dairies at Kavaratti and Minicoy, and poultry farms at Andrott, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavaratti, Agatti and Kiltan. The people of Lakshadweep are warm, friendly and god-fearing. They are of mixed Arab and Hindu descent.