The Shompens, belonging to the Mongoloid race, live in the forest of Great Nicobar
, the biggest island in the Nicobar group of islands.
The Shompens are extremely shy and hide themselves at the very sight of another human being, who does not belong to their clan. They live in huts built in the dense jungles along the banks of the rivers in Great Nicobar. Owing to their shyness, the Malaya pirates used to sell them as slaves in other places of South East Asia in the past. They are very friendly with the Nicobarese.
There are two divisions in the Shompens- Mawa Shompens and Aggressive Shompens. The Mawa Shompens, a smaller division reside in the areas very close to the coastal region along the river valleys. The Aggressive Shompens inhabit Alexandria River and Galathea River areas and also on the east coast of the area in the inner part of the Island. Long ago, frequent attacks are believed to have been made on the Mawa Shompens by the aggressive Shompens. The Mawa Shompens are physically very weak and the fatalities of diseases.
The men of the tribe wear loin cloth and women wear petticoats made of leaves or barks of the trees. Their important mainstays are coconuts, bananas, pandanus, tubers, honey, fish, wild pig and lizards. They have perfected the art of extracting honey without any harm from bees and make their own dinghies with bamboo pieces.
A major breakthrough have been achieved by some groups of Shompens have come out from their shell of shyness and hesitation. A school has now functioning in their area to give the children formal and non-formal education.