Lakshadweep means Ďa hundred thousand islands' in Malayalam, the local language. However there are only 36 islands having a total area of 32 sq. kilometers. It is the tiniest Union Territory of India with 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks. Ten Islands are inhabited. They are Agatti, Amini, Andrott, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltan and Minicoy.
Theories about coral atoll formation is inconclusive. However the most prominent and perhaps most accepted one is given by the Sir Charles Darwin in 1842. According to him the base of the islands below the reef is a volcanic formation over which corals settled and built fringing reefs, which transformed to barrier reefs and finally to atolls due to geological submergence of volcanic base.
According to legends, small settlements started in the islands of Amini, Kavaratti Andrott and Kalpeni first and later people from these islands moved to other islands of Agatti, Kiltan, Chetlat and Kadmat.
The advent of Islam dates back to the 7th century. St. Ubaidulla of Mecca dreamt that prophet Mohammed wanted him to go to Jeddah, take a ship from there and go to distant places. While he was sailing near these small islands, a storm wrecked his ship. Floating on a plank he was swept ashore on the island of Amini. Ubaidulla started propagating Islam in the islands.
Still 93% of the inhabitants of Lakshadweep are Muslims.
People are mostly engaged in fishing and coconut cultivation. The islands are virtually crime-free