Lakshadweep is a group of islands in the Laccadive Sea, 200 to 440 km off the South Western coast of India. The archipelago is a Union Territory and is governed by the Union Government of India. They were also known as Laccadive Islands, although geographically this is only the name of the central subgroup of the group. Lakshadweep comes from "Lakshadweepa", which means "one hundred thousand islands" in Malayalam. The islands form the smallest Union Territory of India: their total surface area is just 11 sq mi or 32 km. The lagoon area covers about 4,200 square kilometres (1,600 sq mi), the territorial waters area 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi) and the exclusive economic zone area 400,000 square kilometres (150,000 sq mi). The region forms a single Indian district with ten Sub divisions. Kavaratti serves as the capital of the Union Territory and the region comes under the jurisdiction of Kerala High Court. The islands are the northernmost of the Lakshadweep-Maldives-Chagos group of islands, which are the tops of a vast undersea mountain range, the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge.
As the islands do not have any aboriginal groups, different views have been postulated by the scholars about the history of habitation on these islands. Archaeological evidence support the existence of human settlement in the region around 1500 BC. The islands have long been known to sailors, as indicated by an anonymous reference from the first century CE to the region in Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. The islands were referenced also in the Buddhist Jataka stories of the 6th century BCE. The arrival of Muslim missionaries around 7th century led to the advent of Islam in the region. During the medieval period the region was ruled by the cholas and Kingdom of Cannanore. The Portuguese arrived around 1498 and were upstaged by 1545. The region was then ruled by the Muslim house of Arakkal, followed by Tipu Sultan. On his death in 1799 most of the region passed on to the British and