Mcobar Islands, a cluster in the Indian ocean, S. of the Andaman group and N. of Sumatra, between lat, 6° 45' and 9° 15' N., and Ion. 92° 45' and 94° E.; pop. about 6,000. It includes nine islands of considerable size, and several smaller ones. The most important are Great and Little Nicobar, Katchall, Kamorta, Teressa, Tillanchong, and Car-Nicobar. The largest and southernmost is Great Nicobar, about 30 by 12 m., separated by a channel 6 m. wide from Little Nicobar, the next in size, which is 14 m. in length and 12 m. in width. The surface of all the islands is generally hilly and well wooded. The soil is fertile, and capable of producing nearly all the fruits and vegetables of tropical regions. The cocoanut palm grows luxuriantly on the coral formations of the northern islands, and it is estimated that 5,000,000 cocoanuts are exported annually, three fifths of them from Car-Nicobar alone. Ambergris and edible birds' nests abound, and a limited trade is carried on in these articles by the Malays, Chinese, and English from the Straits Settlements. The inhabitants, who resemble the Malays in their characteristics, dwell in conical huts raised above the ground and reached by means of ladders.
They make few or no efforts to cultivate the soil, and in many of the islands their condition is very miserable and degraded. They have frequently murdered the crews of ships which have touched on their coasts. The Danes made several attempts to colonize the Nicobars from 1754 to 1848, when they abandoned their claim to sovereignty. In 1860 the British East Indian government took possession of the islands and began a penal colony on Nancowry, where there is an excellent harbor, and regular steam communication is now kept up with the Straits Settlements. The colony is on the N. side of the harbor.