The most isolated tribe in the world: The Sentinelese tribe is the last stone age tribe in the world

Paul Pinkerton

North Sentinel Island that is part of the Andaman group of islands is located off the coast of India in the Bay of Bengal. It is a Manhattan-size island and it’s home to an isolated indigenous tribe called the Sentinelese.

North Sentinel Island belongs to India and remains an enigma, despite being populated for an estimated 60,000 years. India has sovereignty over the island but has enforced a four-kilometre exclusion zone.

Not much is known about the Sentinelese people, their language, their rituals and the island they call home.

People of various nationalities tried to communicate with the tribe but it seems that the indigenous Sentinelese tribe prefers to have zero contact with the outside world.

2009 NASA image of North Sentinel Island

It’s believed that the Sentinelese tribe is the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world to remain isolated. They are thought to be directly descended from the first human populations to emerge from Africa.

Believed to number anywhere from 50 to 400, the Sentinelese tribe people are known to be extremely aggressive and violent and the tribe is one of the last of its kind on Earth, almost always attacking visitors.

The Telegraph reported that in 2006 two fishermen were attacked and killed by the Sentinelese tribe.

Sunder Raj, 48, and Pandit Tiwari, 52, were probably drunk and drifted too close to the island and were killed by the Sentinelese.

When the Indian coastguard tried to recover the bodies using a helicopter the Sentinelese people attacked the helicopter with bows and arrows.

Two Great Andamanese men

The Sentinelese tribe still practice hunting and gathering and they’ve never developed agriculture.

Other tribes from the Andaman Islands faced extinction but their hostile attitude towards strangers probably saved them from extinction over the centuries.

13th-century explorer, Marco Polo described them as the most violent and cruel generation who seem to eat everybody they catch.

Before Marco Polo, Chinese and Arabian travelers made the first documented contact with the islands but they were met with a hail of arrows when they tried to land.

They remain one of the most enigmatic peoples on earth having survived occupations of the islands by the Burmese, the British and the Japanese.

The uncontacted tribe managed to avoid being wiped out by the 2004 tsunami which took the lives of almost 2,000 other islanders in the archipelago.

Group of Andamanese hunting turtles with bows and arrows

Their diet consists mainly of coconuts and fish that can be found in the shallow waters around their shores and their meat consists of turtles and small birds found on the North Sentinel Island.

Indian anthropologist Triloknath Pandit in the early 1990s left gifts of coconuts, knives, cloth, mirrors, and once a live pig. The Sentinelese people killed the pig and buried it in the sand.

Triloknath Pandit told the Independent that the Sentinelese were not so easily bought with the gifts and said: “They would turn their backs to us and sit on their haunches as if to defecate. This was meant to insult us and to say we were not welcome.”

Here is another fun read on tribes: The Toda People: A small pastoral tribe with a fascinating tradition

As of now, the Sentinelese will be left to the isolation they had so vigorously defended over many centuries.


jack-beckett is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival