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Kerala (Malayalam: ?; ), is a state located in southwestern Indiamarker. The state was created in 1956 on a linguistic basis, bringing together those places where Malayalam formed the principal language. Kerala is famous for its sprawling backwaters and lush green vegetation. Kerala is generally referred to as a tropical paradise of waving palms and wide sandy beaches. Neighbouring states are Karnatakamarker to the north and Tamil Nadumarker to the south and the east. The state is bordered by the Arabian seamarker towards the west. Thiruvananthapurammarker, located at the southern tip of the state forms the capital while Kochimarker, Kozhikodemarker, Kollammarker, Thrissurmarker, Kottayammarker, Kannurmarker, Alapuzhamarker, Manjerimarker and Palakkadmarker form other major trading and activity centres.

The state has a 91 percent literacy rate, the highest in India. A survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in the country. Kerala has witnessed significant migration of its people, especially to the Persian Gulf countries, starting with the Kerala Gulf boom, and is uniquely dependent on remittances from its large Malayali expatriate community. Kerala has the lowest rate of population growth in India, with a fertility rate of 1.6 per woman and it boasts a higher Human Development Index than most other states in India. Kerala is also considered to be the global capital of Ayurveda.


The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. Keralam may stem from an imperfect Malayalam portmanteau fusing kera ("coconut tree") and alam ("land" or "location"). Kerala may represent the Classical Tamil chera-alam ("declivity of a hill or a mountain slope") or chera alam ("Land of the Cheras"). Natives of Kerala, known as Malayalis or Keralites, refer to their land as Keralam.


It is unknown if the region was inhabited during Neolithic times. The Edakkal Caves has one of the earliest examples of stone age writing. Kerala and Tamil Nadumarker once shared a common language, ethnicity and culture; this common area was known as Tamilakam. A 3rd-century-BC rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great attests to a Keralaputra.

Around 1 BC the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty, which traded with the Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Tamil Chera dynasty, Ays and the Pandyan Kingdom were the traditional rulers of Kerala whose patriarchal dynasties ruled until the 14th century AD. Pliny the Elder who visited Kerala in the first century AC reported in his book Natural History that the Northern Kerala was ruled by the Chera Kings while the southern Kerala was ruled by Pandyan Kingdom who had the capital at Nelcynda with port at Porakkad (Ambalapuzha).

The ancient Cheras, whose mother tongue and court language was ancient Tamil, ruled Kerala from their capital at Vanchi. Cheras were constantly at war with the neighbouring Chola and Pandya kingdoms. A Keralite identity, distinct from the Tamils and associated with the second Chera empire, became linguistically separate under the Kulasekhara dynasty (c. 800–1102). But the Malayalam during Chera period was purely Dravidian. Perumal Thirumozhi written by Kulasekhara Azhwar himself is in classic Tamil.The Dravidian Villavar tribe which established the Chera Kingdom were Patriarchal in descendency. Ay kings ruled southern Kerala. The Later Chera Kingdom otherwise called the Kulasekhara dynasty was founded by King Kulasekhara Alwar who is considered as a Vaishnavaite saint. After the repeated attacks of Rashtrakutas in the end of first millennium the northernmost portions of Kerala. Later Chera dynasty came to an end weakened by the Rashtrakuta and Chola invaders.

The Chera kings' dependence on trade meant that merchants from West Asia and Southern Europe established coastal posts and settlements in Kerala. The west Asian-semiticJewish, Christian, and Muslim immigrants established Nasrani Mappila, Juda Mappila and Muslim Mappila communities. The Jews first arrived in Kerala in 573 BC. The works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings state that Thomas the Apostle visited Muziris in Kerala in 52 AD to proselytize amongst Kerala's Jewish settlements though controversy exists whether he visited Taxilamarker the capital of Gondophares or Kerala or both.. Muslim merchants (Malik ibn Dinar) settled in Kerala by the 8th century AD and introduced Islam. After Vasco Da Gama's arrival in 1498, the Portuguese gained control of the lucrative pepper trade by subduing Keralite communities and commerce.

The Tabula Peutingeriana is the only known surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus. Kerala is seen at the eastern part of the then known world. In it, Muziris, temple of Augustus, Mountains that give birth to elephants (Sahya Parvatham or Western Ghats), are clearly marked.

Conflicts between Kozhikode (Calicut) and Kochi (Cochin) provided an opportunity for the Dutch to oust the Portuguese. In turn, the Dutch were ousted by Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family who routed them at the Battle of Colachel in 1741. In 1766, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore invaded northern Kerala, capturing Kozhikode in the process. In the late 18th century, Tipu Sultan, Ali’s son and successor, launched campaigns against the expanding British East India Company, resulting in two of the four Anglo-Mysore Wars. He ultimately ceded Malabar Districtmarker and South Kanara to the Company in the 1790s. The Company then forged tributary alliances with Kochi (1791) and Travancore (1795). Malabar and South Kanara became part of the Madras Presidency.

Kerala was comparatively peaceful under the British Raj; only sporadic revolts such as the 1946 Punnapra-Vayalar uprising and the Dewan of Travancore Velayudan Thampi Dalava, Kozhikode navarch Kunjali Marakkar, and Pazhassi Raja, among others, vied for greater autonomy or independence. Many actions, spurred by such leaders as Vaikunda Swami, Sree Narayana Guru and Chattampi Swamikal, instead protested such conditions as untouchability; notable was the 1924 Vaikom Satyagraham. In 1936, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma of Travancore issued the Temple Entry Proclamation that opened Hindu temples to all castes; Cochinmarker and Malabar soon did likewise. The 1921 Moplah Rebellion involved Mappila Muslims rioting against 'Janmi' system and the British Raj.

After India gained its independence in 1947, Travancore and Cochin were merged to form Travancore-Cochin on 1 July 1949. On 1 January 1950 (Republic Day), Travancore-Cochin was recognised as a state. The Madras Presidency was organised to form Madras State several years prior, in 1947. Finally, the Government of India's 1 November 1956 States Reorganisation Act inaugurated the state of Kerala, incorporating Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks, which were merged with Tamil Nadu), and the taluk of Kasargod, South Kanara. A new legislative assembly was also created, for which elections were first held in 1957. These resulted in a communist-led government through ballot—the world's first of its kind—headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad. Subsequent social reforms favoured tenants and labourers.


A sunset in the Backwaters of Kerala

Kerala is wedged between the Laccadive Sea and the Western Ghats (also called Sahya Parvatham). Lying between north latitudes 8°18' and 12°48' and east longitudes 74°52' and 72°22', Kerala is well within the humid equatorial tropics. Kerala’s coast runs for some 580 km (360 miles), while the state itself varies between 35 and 120 km (22–75 miles) in width. Geographically, Kerala can be divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands (rugged and cool mountainous terrain), the central midlands (rolling hills), and the western lowlands (coastal plains). Located at the extreme southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, Kerala lies near the centre of the Indian tectonic plate; as such, most of the state is subject to comparatively little seismic and volcanic activity. Pre-Cambrian and Pleistocene geological formations compose the bulk of Kerala’s terrain.

Eastern Kerala consists of high mountains, gorges and deep-cut valleys immediately west of the Western Ghats' rain shadow. Forty one of Kerala’s west-flowing rivers, and three of its east-flowing ones originate in this region. The Western Ghats form a wall of mountains interrupted only near Palakkad, where the Palakkad Gap breaks through to provide access to the rest of India. The Western Ghats rises on average to 1,500 m (4920 ft) above sea level, while the highest peaks may reach to 2,500 m (8200 ft). Just west of the mountains lie the midland plains comprising central Kerala, dominated by rolling hills and valleys. Generally ranging between elevations of 250–1,000 m (820–3300 ft), the eastern portions of the Nilgiri and Palni Hillsmarker include such formations as Agastyamalaimarker and Anamalaimarker.

Kerala’s western coastal belt is relatively flat, and is criss-crossed by a network of interconnected brackish canals, lakes, estuaries, and rivers known as the Kerala Backwaters. Lake Vembanadmarker—Kerala’s largest body of water—dominates the Backwaters; it lies between Alappuzha and Kochi and is more than 200 km² in area. Around 8% of India's waterways (measured by length) are found in Kerala. The most important of Kerala’s forty four rivers include the Periyarmarker (244 km), the Bharathapuzha (209 km), the Pamba (176 km), the Chaliyar (169 km), the Kadalundipuzha (130 km), the Valapattanammarker (129 km) and the Achankovil (128 km). The average length of the rivers of Kerala is 64 km. Most of the remainder are small and entirely fed by monsoon rains. These conditions result in the nearly year-round water logging of such western regions as Kuttanad, 500 km² of which lies below sea level. As Kerala's rivers are small and lack deltas, they are more prone to environmental factors. Kerala's rivers face many problems, such as sand mining and pollution. The state experiences several natural hazards such as landslides, floods, lightning and droughts. The state was also affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunamimarker.

A catastrophic geographical event occurred in the territory now comprising Kerala in the 14th century that affected both the geography of the place, as well as its subsequent history. The event was the great flood of 1341 AD [259121]. The consequences of the flood included the changing of course by the Periyar rivermarker, closure of the Muziris (Kodungalloor) [259122] harbour and opening up of a new harbour in what is now Kochi. The flood is considered to be the result of a tsunami [259123]. The other consequences of the flood included the recededing of Arabian Seamarker by several miles downwards, making the then bustling harbour in Kaduthuruthymarker [259124] totally vanish, creating/expanding many new towns like Changanasserymarker, Thiruvallamarker and so on, and making Kuttanad cultivable. The geography of the places prior to that event is described in great detail in the famous Sandesa Kavyam (message poem) by name Unnuneeli Sandesammarker in Malayalam language.


With 120–140 rainy days per year, Kerala has a wet and maritime tropical climate influenced by the seasonal heavy rains of the southwest summer monsoon. In eastern Kerala, a drier tropical wet and dry climate prevails. Kerala's rainfall averages 3,107 mm annually. Some of Kerala's drier lowland regions average only 1,250 mm; the mountains of eastern Idukki district receive more than 5,000 mm of orographic precipitation, the highest in the state.

In summers, most of Kerala is prone to gale force winds, storm surges, cyclone-related torrential downpours, occasional droughts, and rises in sea level. The mean daily temperatures range from 19.8 °C to 36.7 °C. Mean annual temperatures range from 25.0–27.5 °C in the coastal lowlands to 20.0–22.5 °C in the eastern highlands.

Flora and fauna

Much of Kerala's notable biodiversity is concentrated and protected in the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reservemarker in the eastern hills. Almost a fourth of India's 10,000 plant species are found in the state. Among the almost 4,000 flowering plant species (1,272 of which are endemic to Kerala and 159 threatened) are 900 species of highly sought medicinal plant.

Its 9,400 km² of forests include tropical wet evergreen and semi-evergreen forests (lower and middle elevations—3,470 km²), tropical moist and dry deciduous forests (mid-elevations—4,100 km² and 100 km², respectively), and montane subtropical and temperate (shola) forests (highest elevations—100 km²). Altogether, 24% of Kerala is forested. Two of the world’s Ramsar Convention listed wetlandsLake Sasthamkottamarker and the Vembanad-Kol wetlandsmarker—are in Kerala, as well as 1455.4 km² of the vast Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Subjected to extensive clearing for cultivation in the 20th century, much of the remaining forest cover is now protected from clearfelling. Kerala's fauna are notable for their diversity and high rates of endemism: 102 species of mammals (56 of which are endemic), 476 species of birds, 202 species of freshwater fishes, 169 species of reptiles (139 of them endemic), and 89 species of amphibians (86 endemic). These are threatened by extensive habitat destruction, including soil erosion, landslides, salinization, and resource extraction.

Eastern Kerala’s windward mountains shelter tropical moist forests and tropical dry forests, which are common in the Western Ghats. Here, sonokeling (Dalbergia latifolia), anjili, mullumurikku (Erythrina), and Cassia number among the more than 1,000 species of trees in Kerala. Other plants include bamboo, wild black pepper, wild cardamom, the calamus rattan palm (a type of climbing palm), and aromatic vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides). Living among them are such fauna as Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca), Nilgiri Tahr, Common Palm Civet, and Grizzled Giant Squirrel. Reptiles include the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), viper, python, and Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) . Kerala's birds are legion—Peafowl, the Great Hornbill, Indian Grey Hornbill, Indian Cormorant, and Jungle Myna are several emblematic species. In lakes, wetlands, and waterways, fish such as kadu (stinging catfish and Choottachi (Orange chromide—Etroplus maculatus; valued as an aquarium specimen) are found.


Population density map of Kerala graded from darkest shading (most dense) to lightest (least dense)

Kerala's fourteen districts are distributed among Kerala's six historical regions: North Malabar (Far-north Kerala), Malabar (northern Kerala), Kochi (central Kerala), Northern Travancore, Central Travancore (southern Kerala) and Southern Travancore (Far-south Kerala). Kerala's modern-day districts (listed in order from north to south) correspond to them as follows:

Kerala's 14 revenue districts are subdivided into 62 taluks, 1453 revenue villages and 1007 Gram panchayats.

Mahé, a part of the Indian union territory of Puducherry (Pondicherry), is a coastal exclave surrounded by Kerala on all of its landward approaches. Thiruvananthapurammarker (Trivandrum) is the state capital and most populous city. Kochimarker is the most populous urban agglomeration and the major port city in Kerala. Kozhikodemarker, Kannurmarker, Thrissurmarker, Palakkadmarker , and Kollammarker are the other major commercial centers of the state. Kannur districtmarker is the most urbanised district in Kerala, with more than 50% of its residents living in urban areas. The High Court of Keralamarker is located at Ernakulammarker. Kerala's districts, which serve as the administrative regions for taxation purposes, are further subdivided into 63 taluks; these have fiscal and administrative powers over settlements within their borders, including maintenance of local land records.


Kerala is governed via a parliamentary system of representative democracy; universal suffrage is granted to state residents. There are three branches of government. The unicameral legislature, the Kerala Legislative Assembly, comprises elected members and special office bearers (the Speaker and Deputy Speaker) elected by the members from among themselves. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker and in his absence by the Deputy Speaker. Kerala has 140 Assembly constituencies. The state sends 20 members to the Lok Sabha and 9 to the Rajya Sabha, the Indian Parliament's upper house.

The Governor of Kerala is the constitutional head of state, and is appointed by the President of India. The executive authority is headed by the Chief Minister of Kerala, who is the de facto head of state and is vested with extensive executive powers; the Legislative Assembly's majority party leader is appointed to this position by the Governor. The Council of Ministers, which answers to the Legislative Assembly, has its members appointed by the Governor on advice of the Chief Minister.

The judiciary comprises the Kerala High Courtmarker (including a Chief Justice combined with 26 permanent and two additional (pro tempore) justices) and a system of lower courts. The High Court of Kerala is the apex court for the state; it also hears cases from the Union Territory of Lakshadweepmarker. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs.

The state's 2005–2006 budget was 219 billion INR. The state government's tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) amounted to 111,248 million INR in 2005, up from 63,599 million in 2000. Its non-tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) of the Government of Kerala as assessed by the Indian Finance Commissions reached 10,809 million INR in 2005, nearly double the 6,847 million INR revenues of 2000. However, Kerala's high ratio of taxation to gross state domestic product (GSDP) has not alleviated chronic budget deficits and unsustainable levels of government debt, impacting social services.

The Legislature comprises the Governor of Kerala appointed by the President of India and the Kerala Legislative Assembly. The Governor has the power to summon and prorogue the Assembly or to dissolve the same. The Members of the Legislative Assembly are directly elected once in 5 years. Kerala hosts two major political alliances: the United Democratic Front (UDF—led by the Indian National Congress)and the Left Democratic Front (LDF—led by the Communist Party of India (CPI(M)). At present, the LDF is the ruling coalition in government; V.S. Achuthanandan of the CPI(M) is the Chief Minister of Kerala and Oommen Chandy of the UDF is the Chief Opposition leader. Strikes, protests, rallies, and marches are ubiquitous in Kerala due to the comparatively strong presence of labour unions.The government secretariat is also called as hajoor kachery in local dialect.


InfoPark, an IT hub in Kochi
Since independence, Kerala was managed as a democratic socialist welfare economy. Since the 1990s, liberalisation of the mixed economy allowed onerous Licence Raj restrictions against capitalism and foreign direct investment to be lightened, leading to economic expansion and job creation. In fiscal year 2004–2005, nominal gross state domestic product (GSDP) was . Recent GSDP growth (9.2% in 2004–2005 and 7.4% in 2003–2004) has been robust compared to historical averages (2.3% annually in the 1980s and between 5.1% and 5.99% in the 1990s). The state clocked 8.93% growth in enterprises from 1998 to 2005 compared with 4.80% nationally. Relatively few such enterprises are major corporations or manufacturers. Per-capita GSDP is , above the Indian average and far below the world average. Kerala's Human Development Index rating is the highest in India. This apparently paradoxical "Kerala phenomenon" or "Kerala model of development" of high human and low economic development results from the strong service sector. Kerala's economy depends on emigrants working in foreign countries (mainly in the Persian Gulf countriesmarker such as United Arab Emiratesmarker or Saudi Arabiamarker) and remittances annually contribute more than a fifth of GSDP.

Rural women processing coir threads

The service sector (including tourism, public administration, banking and finance, transportation, and communications—63.8% of GSDP in 2002–2003) and the agricultural and fishing industries (together 17.2% of GSDP) dominate the economy. Nearly half of Kerala's people are dependent on agriculture alone for income. Some 600 varieties of rice (Kerala's most important staple food and cereal crop) are harvested from 3105.21 km² (a decline from 5883.4 km² in 1990) of paddy fields; 688,859 tonnes are produced per annum. Other key crops include coconut (899,198 ha), tea, coffee (23% of Indian production, or 57,000 tonnes ), rubber, cashews, and spices—including pepper, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Around 1.050 million fishermen haul an annual catch of 668,000 tonnes (1999–2000 estimate); 222 fishing villages are strung along the 590 km coast. Another 113 fishing villages dot the hinterland.

Traditional industries manufacturing such items as coir, handlooms, and handicrafts employ around one million people. Around 180,000 small-scale industries employ around 909,859 Keralites; 511 medium and large scale manufacturing firms are located in Kerala. A small mining sector (0.3% of GSDP) involves extraction of ilmenite, kaolin, bauxite, silica, quartz, rutile, zircon, and sillimanite. Home gardens and animal husbandry also provide work for hundreds of thousands of people. Other major sectors are tourism, manufacturing, and business process outsourcing. As of March 2002, Kerala's banking sector comprised 3341 local branches; each branch served 10,000 persons, lower than the national average of 16,000; the state has the third-highest bank penetration among Indian states. Unemployment in 2007 was estimated at 9.4%; underemployment, low employability of youths, and a 13.5% female participation rate are chronic issues. Poverty rate figures range from 12.71% to as high as 36%. More than 45,000 residents live in slum conditions.

Also refer Industries and Companies based in Kerala


Kerala is unique in India for its diverse mix of religions. According to Census of India figures, 56 percent of Kerala residents are Hindus, 24 percent are Muslims, 19 percent are Christians and the remaining one percent follows other religions.

Hinduism has undoubtedly shaped Kerala , and Kerala has in turn left its mark on Hinduism . Many influential saints and movements hail from Kerala. The major Hindu castes are Nambudiri, Nairs, Ezhavas and Dalits. Notably, Narayana Guru’s movement for social reform and tolerance helped to establish Kerala as one of the most socially progressive states in India.

The Abrahamic religions attest to Kerala's prominence as a major trade center. Judaism arrived in Kerala with spice traders, possibly as early as the 7th century BC. A significant Jewish community existed in Kerala until the 20th century when most emigrated to Israelmarker leaving only a handful of families .

According to tradition, Christianity reached the shores of Kerala in AD 52 with the arrival of St Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ The major Christian denominations are Catholic (Rites: Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, and Latin), Oriental Orthodox (denominations: Jacobite, Malankara, and Malabar Independent Syrian), and Protestant (Mar Thoma Church (in communion with the Anglican Communion), Church of South India (Anglican Church in India), St. Thomas Evangelical Church, and Pentecostal Churches).

The consensus among historians is that Islam arrived in Kerala through Arab traders either during the time of Muhammad (AD 609 - AD 632) or in the following few decades. In the 7th Century, the Zamorine of Kozhikodemarker allowed these traders to settle and form a major community in Kozhikode, from where the religion gradually spread in the following centuries.

Jainism, which arrived in Kerala around the 3rd century BC, has a considerable population in the Wayanad districtmarker bordering the Karnatakamarker state.

Buddhism arrived in Kerala around the 2nd century BC with the missionary activity of Ashoka the Great, and maintained a significant presence until the revival of Brahminic Hinduism in the 8th century AD. Few adherents of Buddhism remain in Kerala, today.

Each of these religions left a mark on Kerala with major sites of worship that draw numerous pilgrims. Major Hindu pilgrimage centers are located in Guruvayurmarker, Sabarimalamarker, Padmanabhaswamy templemarker, Thrissur Vadakkumnatha Temple and Chettikulangara Temple. Christians have prominent churches and shrines in Malayattoormarker, Arthungalmarker, Bharananganammarker, etc. Famous Muslim mosques are located at Kodungallurmarker, Ponnanimarker, Pappinisserimarker and Koyilandimarker. Kerala Jews centered in the city of Kochi have the Cochin Synagoguemarker, the oldest synagogue in India.


Kerala has of roads (4.2% of India's total). This translates to about of road per thousand population, compared to an all India average of . Virtually all of Kerala's villages are connected by road. Traffic in Kerala has been growing at a rate of 10–11% every year, resulting in high traffic and pressure on the roads. Kerala's road density is nearly four times the national average, reflecting the state's high population density. Kerala's annual total of road accidents is among the nation's highest.India's national highway network includes a Kerala-wide total of , which is 2.6% of the national total. There are eight designated national highways in the state. The Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP), which includes the GIS-based Road Information and Management Project (RIMS), is responsible for maintaining and expanding the of roadways that compose the state highways system; it also oversees major district roads. Most of Kerala's west coast is accessible through two national highways, NH 47, and NH 17 and eastern hills are accessible through proposed Hill Highway .

The state has three major international airports at Thiruvananthapurammarker, Kochimarker, and Kozhikodemarker, that link the state with the rest of the nation and the world. The Cochin International Airportmarker (COK) was the first Indian airport incorporated as a public limited company and is funded by nearly 10,000 Non Resident Indians from 30 countries. A fourth international airport is proposed at Kannurmarker.

The backwaters traversing the state are an important mode of inland navigation. National Waterway 3 traverse through the state.

The Indian Railways' Southern Railwaymarker line runs throughout the state, connecting all major towns and cities except those in the highland districts of Idukki and Wayanad. Kerala's major railway stations are Alappuzhamarker, Aluva, Chengannur, Ernakulammarker Junction, Kannurmarker, Kasaragod, Kollammarker Junction, Kottayammarker, Kozhikodemarker, Palakkadmarker Junction, Shoranurmarker Junction, Thalassery, Thrissur Junction, Tirur, Trivandrummarker Central and Vadakara.


The 31.8 million Keralites are predominantly of Malayali ethnicity, while the rest is mostly made up of Jewish and Arab elements in both culture and ancestry. Kerala's 321,000 indigenous tribal Adivasis, 1.10% of the population, are concentrated in the east. Malayalam is Kerala's official language; Tamil, Tulu,Kannada and various Adivasi (Tribal) languages are also spoken by ethnic minorities especially in the south-western region.

Most Keralites, such as this fisherman, live in rural areas.

Kerala is home to 3.44% of India's people; at 819 persons per km², its land is nearly three times as densely settled as the rest of India, which is at a population density of 325 persons per km². Kerala's rate of population growth is India's lowest, and Kerala's decadal growth(9.42% in 2001) is less than half the all-India average of 21.34%. Whereas Kerala's population more than doubled between 1951 and 1991 by adding 15.6 million people to reach 29.1 million residents in 1991, the population stood at less than 32 million by 2001. Kerala's coastal regions are the most densely settled, leaving the eastern hills and mountains comparatively sparsely populated.

Women compose 51.42% of the population. Kerala's principal religions are Hinduism (56.2%), Islam (24.70%), and Christianity (19.00%). In comparison with the rest of India, Kerala experiences relatively little sectarianism.

Kerala has witnessed significant migration of its people, especially to the Persian Gulf countries, starting with the Kerala Gulf boom, and is uniquely dependent on remittances from its large Malayali expatriate community.

Kerala's society is less patriarchal than the rest of the Third World. Kerala government states gender relations are among the most equitable in India and the Third World , despite discrepancies among low caste men and women. Certain Hindu communities such as the Nairs, some Ezhavas and the Muslims around North Malabarmarker used to follow a traditional matrilineal system known as marumakkathayam, although this practice ended in the years after Indian independence. Other Muslims, Christians, and some Hindu castes such as the Namboothiris and the Ezhavas follow makkathayam, a patrilineal system. Owing to the former matrilineal system, women in Kerala enjoy a high social status.

Kerala's human development indices— primary level education, health care and elimination of poverty—are among the best in India. According to a 2005-2006 national survey, Kerala has one of the highest literacy rates (97.0%) among Indian states and life expectancy (73 years) was among the highest in India in 2001. Kerala's rural poverty rate fell from 69% (1970–1971) to 19% (1993–1994); the overall (urban and rural) rate fell 36% between the 1970s and 1980s. By 1999–2000, the rural and urban poverty rates dropped to 10.0% and 9.6% respectively. These changes stem largely from efforts begun in the late 19th century by the kingdoms of Cochin and Travancore to boost social welfare. This focus was maintained by Kerala's post-independence government.


Kerala's healthcare system has garnered international acclaim. The state has a very good medical facility. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization designated Kerala the world's first "baby-friendly state" because of its effective promotion of breast-feeding over formulas. For example, more than 95% of Keralite births are hospital-delivered. Aside from ayurveda (both elite and popular forms), siddha, and unani, many endangered and endemic modes of traditional medicine, including kalari, marmachikitsa, and vishavaidyam, are practiced. These propagate via gurukula discipleship,, and comprise a fusion of both medicinal and supernatural treatments, and are partly responsible for drawing increasing numbers of medical tourist.

A steadily aging population (11.2% of Keralites are over age 60) and low birthrate (18 per 1,000) make Kerala one of the few regions of the Third World to have undergone the "demographic transition" characteristic of such developed nations as Canada, Japan, and Norway. In 1991, Kerala's total fertility rate (children born per women) was the lowest in India. Hindus had a TFR of 1.66, Christians 1.78, and Muslims 2.97. Kerala's female-to-male ratio (1.058) is significantly higher than that of the rest of India. sub-replacement fertility level and infant mortality rate is lower compared to other states (estimated at 12 to 14 deaths per 1,000 live births).

However, Kerala's morbidity rate is higher than that of any other Indian state—118 (rural Keralites) and 88 (urban) per 1,000 people. The corresponding all India figures are 55 and 54 per 1,000, respectively. Kerala's 13.3% prevalence of low birth weight is substantially higher than that of First World nations. Outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis, and typhoid among the more than 50% of Keralites who rely on 3 million water well is a problem worsened by the widespread lack of sewer.


The Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics was founded by Madhava of Sangamagrama in Kerala, which included among its members: Parameshvara, Neelakanta Somayaji, Jyeshtadeva, Achyuta Pisharati, Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri and Achyuta Panikkar. The school flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries and the original discoveries of the school seems to have ended with Narayana Bhattathiri (1559-1632). In attempting to solve astronomical problems, the Kerala school independently created a number of important mathematics concepts. Their most important results—series expansion for trigonometric functions—were described in Sanskrit verse in a book by Neelakanta called Tantrasangraha.

Schools and colleges are run by the government, private trusts, or individuals. Each school is affiliated with either the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), or the Kerala State Education Board. English is the language of instruction in most private schools, while government run schools offer English or Malayalam. After 10 years of secondary schooling, students typically enroll at Higher Secondary School in one of the three streams—liberal arts, commerce or science. Upon completing the required coursework, students can enroll in general or professional degree programmes. Kerala topped the Education Development Index (EDI) among 21 major states in India in year 2006-2007.

Thiruvananthapurammarker, one of the state's major academic hubs, hosts the University of Kerala and several professional education colleges including fifteen engineering colleges, three medical colleges, three Ayurveda colleges, two colleges of homeopathy, six other medical colleges, and several law colleges. Trivandrum Medical College, Kerala's premier health institute, is being upgraded to the status of an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) . The College of Engineering, Trivandrummarker is one of the prominent engineering institutions in the state. The Asian School of Business and IIITM-K are two of the other premier management study institutions in the city, both situated inside Technoparkmarker. The Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, first of its kind in India, is also situated here.

Kozhikodemarker is home to two of the premier educational institutions of India: the IIMK, one of the seven Indian Institutes of Management, and the National Institute of Technology Calicutmarker (NITC).


Kerala's culture is derived from both a Tamil-heritage region known as Tamilakam and southern coastal Karnatakamarker. Later, Kerala's culture was elaborated upon through centuries of contact with neighboring and overseas cultures. Native performing arts include koodiyattom (a 2000 year old Sanskrit theatre tradition, officially recognised by UNESCOmarker as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity), kathakali—from katha ("story") and kali ("performance")—and its offshoot Kerala natanam, Kaliyattam -(North Malabarmarker special), koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam ("dance of the enchantress"), Theyyam, thullal NS padayanimarker.

Other forms of art are more religious or tribal in nature. These include chavittu nadakom, oppana (originally from Malabar), which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations. However, many of these art forms largely play to tourists or at youth festivals, and are not as popular among most ordinary Keralites. These people look to more contemporary art and performance styles, including those employing mimicry and parody.

Kerala's music also has ancient roots. Carnatic music dominates Keralite traditional music. This was the result of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma's popularisation of the genre in the 19th century. Raga-based renditions known as sopanam accompany kathakali performances. Melam (including the paandi and panchari variants) is a more percussive style of music; it is performed at Kshetram centered festivals using the chenda. Melam ensembles comprise up to 150 musicians, and performances may last up to four hours. Panchavadyam is a different form of percussion ensemble, in which up to 100 artists use five types of percussion instrument. Kerala has various styles of folk and tribal music. The popular music of Kerala is dominated by the filmi music of Indian cinema. Kerala's visual arts range from traditional murals to the works of Raja Ravi Varma, the state's most renowned painter.

Kerala has its own Malayalam calendar, which is used to plan agricultural and religious activities. Kerala's cuisine is typically served as a sadhya (feast) on green banana leaves. Such dishes as idli, payasam, pulisherry, puttucuddla, puzhukku, rasam, and sambar are typical. Keralites—both men and women alike—traditionally don flowing and unstitched garments. These include the mundu, a loose piece of cloth wrapped around men's waists. Women typically wear the sari, a long and elaborately wrapped banner of cloth, wearable in various styles. Presently the North Indian dresses such as Salwar Kameez has also become very popular amongst women in Kerala.

Elephants are an integral part of daily life in Kerala. These Indian elephants are loved, revered, groomed and given a prestigious place in the state's culture. They are often referred to as the 'sons of the sahya.' The ana (elephant) is the state animal of Kerala and is featured on the emblem of the Government of Kerala.

The predominant language spoken in Kerala is Malayalam. Malayalam literature is medieval in origin and includes such figures as the 14th century Niranam poets (Madhava Panikkar, Sankara Panikkar and Rama Panikkar), and the 17th century poet Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan whose works mark the dawn of both modern Malayalam language and indigenous Keralite poetry. The "triumvirate of poets" (Kavithrayam), Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon, and Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer, are recognised for moving Keralite poetry away from archaic sophistry and metaphysics, and towards a more lyrical mode.

In the second half of the 20th century, Jnanpith awardees like G. Sankara Kurup, S. K. Pottekkatt, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and M. T. Vasudevan Nair have made valuable contributions to the Malayalam literature. Later, such Keralite writers as O. V. Vijayan, Kamaladas, M. Mukundan, and Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, whose 1996 semi-autobiographical bestseller The God of Small Things is set in the Kottayammarker town of Ayemenem, have gained international recognition.


Dozens of newspapers are published in Kerala, in nine major languages, but principally Malayalam and English. The most widely circulating Malayalam-language newspapers include Mathrubhumi, Malayala Manorama, Deepika, Kerala Kaumudi, Madhyamam and Deshabhimani. Among major Malayalam periodicals are India Today Malayalam,Madhyamam weekly,Grihalakshmi, Veedu, Vanitha, Chithrabhumi, Kanyaka and Bhashaposhini.

Doordarshan is the state-owned television broadcaster. Multi system operators provide a mix of Malayalam, English and international channels via cable television. There are 17 malayalam channels which makes the countries maximum number in regional language. Asianet, Indiavision, Manorama News, JaiHind TV, Amrita TV, Surya TV and Kairali TV are among the Malayalam-language channels that compete with the major national channels. All India Radio, the national radio service, reaches much of Kerala via its Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and Alappuzha, Malayalam-language broadcasters. Television programmes such as serials, reality shows and the Internet have become a major source of entertainment and information for the people in Kerala. A Malayalam version of Google News was launched in September 2008. Regardless, Keralites maintain high rates of newspaper and magazine subscriptions, with 50 percent spending an average of about seven hours a week reading novels and other books. A sizeable "people's science" movement has taken root in the state, and such activities as writers' cooperatives are becoming increasingly common.

BSNLmarker, Reliance Infocomm, Tata Docomo, Vodafone, Aircel, Idea and Airtel compete to provide cellular phone services. Broadband internet is available in most of the towns and cities and is provided by different agencies like the state-run Kerala Telecommunications (which is run by BSNL) and by other private companies like Asianet Satellite communications, VSNL. BSNL provides broadband service in most of the cities.

Malayalam film is based in Kerala and is known for making good, realistic, social oriented films. Movies produced in Hindi, Tamil and English (Hollywood) are also popular. Prem Nazir has acted in 720 movies in a lead role. Malayalam actors Mohanlal and Mammotty have won several national awards.They are considered among the greatest actors of India


Several ancient ritualised arts are Keralite in origin. These include kalaripayattukalari ("place", "threshing floor", or "battlefield") and payattu ("exercise" or "practice"). Among the world's oldest martial arts, oral tradition attributes kalaripayattu's emergence to Parasurama. Other ritual arts include theyyam and poorakkali.

Cricket and football are the most popular sports in the state. Two Kerala Ranji Trophy players gained test selection in recent years. Sreesanth, born in Kothamangalammarker, has represented India since 2005. Among other Keralite cricketers is Tinu Yohannan, son of Olympic long jumper T. C., Notable Kerala footballers include I. M. Vijayan, C. V. Pappachan, V. P. Sathyan, and Jo Paul Ancheri.

Other popular sports include badminton, volleyball and kabaddi. Among Kerala athletes are P. T. Usha, T. C. Yohannan, Suresh Babu, Shiny Wilson, K. M. Beenamol, M. D. Valsamma and Anju Bobby George. Volleyball is another popular sport and is often played on makeshift courts on sandy beaches along the coast. Jimmy George, born in Peravoormarker, Kannurmarker, was a notable Indian volleyball player, rated in his prime as among the world's ten best players.


Munnar hill station, Kerala
House boats
Kerala, situated on the lush and tropical Malabar Coast, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Named as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 places of a lifetime" by the National Geographic Traveler magazine, Kerala is especially known for its ecotourism initiatives. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Growing at a rate of 13.31%, the state's tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy.Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination; most tourist circuits focused on North India. Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state, laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry. In the decades that followed, Kerala's tourism industry was able to transform the state into one of the niche holiday destinations in India. The tagline Kerala- God's Own Country has been widely used in Kerala's tourism promotions and soon became synonymous with the state. In 2006, Kerala attracted 8.5 million tourist arrivals, an increase of 23.68% over the previous year, making the state one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world.

Popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalammarker, Cheraimarker, Varkalamarker, Kappadmarker, Muzhappilangadmarker and Bekal; the hill stations of Munnarmarker, Nelliampathimarker, Ponmudi and Wayanadmarker; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyarmarker and Eravikulam National Parkmarker. The "backwaters" region, which comprises an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes, and canals that centre on Alleppeymarker, Kollammarker, Kumarakommarker, and Punnamada (where the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in August), also see heavy tourist traffic. Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Mattancherry Palace, are also visited. Cities such as Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram are popular centres for their shopping and traditional theatrical performances. During early summer, the Thrissur Pooram is conducted, attracting foreign tourists who are largely drawn by the festival's elephants and celebrants. The main pilgrim tourist spots of Kerala are Sabarimala Temple, Chettikulangara Temple, Vadakumnathan Temple, Guruvayoor Temple, Malayattor Church and Parumala Church.



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