Lakshadweep is the smallest union territory of India. The group is located 200 to 300 km off of the coast of Kerala in the Arabian Sea. The total land area of the territory is 32 km². Eleven of the islands are inhabited. Lakshadweep is the northern part of the erstwhile Lakshadweepa.
Lakshadweep officially consists of 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks, with a total of about
36 islands and islets. The reefs are in fact also atolls, although mostly submerged, with only small unvegetated sand cays above the high water mark. The submerged banks are sunken atolls.
Almost all the atolls have a northeast-southwest orientation with the islands lying on the eastern rim, and a mostly submerged reef on the western rim, enclosing a lagoon.
|1) Amini Island and Pitti Island are both on Pitti Bank,
a largely sunken atoll with a lagoon area of 155.09 km2
|2) Bingaram and Agatti Islands are connected by a shallow submarine ridge|
|3) new international tourist resort,
otherwise uninhabited, but with a population 61 at the 1990 census
The main islands are Kavaratti (where the capital city, Kavaratti, is located), Agatti, Minicoy, and Amini.
The total population of the territory was 60,595 according to the 2001 census. Agatti has an airport where
there are direct flights from Kochi, Kerala or Ernakulam (Cochin). Tourists need a permit to visit the islands;
foreign nationals are not permitted to visit certain islands. Consumption of liquor or alcoholic drink is not
permitted in the islands except at Bangaram Island.
The name of the archipelago literally translates as “hundred thousand islands” (laksha = “one hundred thousand”,
dweep = “island”). Until 1973, the island group was known by the anglicised name Laccadives (compare to Maldives
and Suvadives) although the term Laccadives strictly only applies to central Lakshdweep with the northern Amindivi
Islands and Minicoy to the south considered separate. This is reflected in the pre-1973 name of the union
territory, Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Islands.
Limestone/limeshell occurs in the Union Territory but mineral production is not reported.