Little is known historically about Andaman and Nicobar, a cluster of around 572 islands of which only 36 are populated, stretching from the southern tip of Burma all the way down south till Sumatra in Indonesia. It is believed that Marco Polo was among the first from the West to set foot on one of the islands. After India achieved independence in 1947 the Andaman and Nicobar Islands became part of the Indian Union. The British established their first colony in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1789, which was abandoned in 1796. They turned it into a penal colony for Indian freedom fighters. Hundreds of anti-British Indians were tortured to death or simply executed here, in the infamous Cellular Jail. With the Second World War, Japanese troops occupied the islands and the local tribes initiated rebel activities to drive them out.