Located off the coast of India, in the Bay of Bengal, is the North Sentinel Island which is also known as the “World’s Deadliest Island”. It is also one of the world’s hardest places to visit because the Indian Government has placed a 3 mile exclusion zone surrounding the entire island for a very disturbing reason. The indigenous tribe has inhabited the island for over 60,000 years and is believed to be direct descendants of the first humans to walk the earth.
The island is so dense with tree cover that images of the people living on the island are rare however there are a few. The tribe is estimated to be between 50 and 400 people large. The Sentinelese people are very hostile and aggressive, preventing anyone from coming close to their home. Anyone who comes near the island is attacked or even worse, killed.
This dangerous island is unlike any other island we know of. North Sentinel Island is home to the most isolated and primitive people in the world who have violently rejected contact with the outside world for as long as we know of.
There are several horror stories dating as far back as the 1800’s and as recent as late November, 2018. People have drifted onto the island only to be found full of arrows with their throats cut.
In 1981 a freight ship named the Primrose ran aground on coral next to the island and the crew feared for their lives. “Wild men, estimate more than 50, carrying various homemade weapons, are making two or three wooden boats,” the Primrose’s captain radioed to his headquarters in Hong Kong. “Worrying they will board us at sunset. All crew members’ lives not guaranteed.” They were being attacked but rough seas and strong winds prevented the tribes boats from getting too close and their arrows were blown off course preventing the killing of the entire crew. This window of bad weather allowed rescue helicopters to come and save the crew of the Primrose. The ship still sits where it sank 38 years ago.
One American man was not so lucky. On November 17, 2018 a 26-year-old missionary named John Allen Chau paid some fishermen to smuggle him onto the island so he could convert the Sentinelese tribe to Christianity. The tribe killed him as soon as he reached the shore. His body was never recovered because it was deemed too dangerous to do so.
The government has made it illegal to visit the island because it is so dangerous and almost everyone who has ever visited has been attacked or killed. Due to the extreme isolation of the primitive tribe, they would almost certainly perish due to foreign disease to which they have no immunity at all.
The people appear to be a hunter gatherer society as there are no signs of farming or agriculture. It is the most primitive tribe still in existence in the world that we know of.
Many researchers have flown helicopters and planes over the island to try to capture images and data. As soon as they get within range, the people start using primitive weapons to defend their island. This was the case when two fishermen ran adrift on the island in 2006.
The fishermen were brutally killed and their bodies were left on the beach. Rescue helicopters were sent to recover the bodies but couldn’t land because of the hostility of the tribe. They were forced to evacuate the mission because rocks, spears and arrows were being thrown at them.
The Sentinelese people have made it clear that they want total isolation from the outside world. In 1991 there was one friendly meeting that lasted very quickly. The Sentinelese people walked out to boats who had been leaving gifts on the island. They walked out and received some coconuts. One man got out of the boat which started to drift away. One tribesman pulled a knife and threatened him. He immediately got back in the boat and they left. That was the only documented time that an encounter with the tribe was somewhat friendly.
What fascinates me is that in 2020, there is still a culture that is in total isolation of the modern world. What is going through their heads when they see a helicopter or a plane pass by? The Sentinelese people want to be left alone and I’m happy to see that the surrounding modern countries are respecting that as much as possible.