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Kerala is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was formed on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam-speaking regions.

The state has an area of and is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Arabian Sea on the west. Thiruvananthapuram is the state capital. Kochi, the financial & Industrial hub and Kozhikode are other major cities. According to a survey by economics research firm Indicus Analytics, five out of the ten best cities to live in India are located in Kerala.

Kerala has the highest Human Development Index of all Indian states and with 93.91 percent literacy is the most literate state in India. A survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in the country. Kerala is also ranked as India's cleanest state. Kerala has witnessed significant migration of its people, especially to the Persian Gulf countries during the Kerala Gulf boom and its economy depends significantly on remittances from its large Malayali expatriate community.

Kerala is an important tourist destination in India; the backwaters, beaches, Ayurvedic tourism and tropical greenery are the major attractions. National Geographic's Traveler magazine named Kerala as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 must see destinations of a lifetime"; Travel + Leisure listed it as "one of the 100 great trips for the 21st century".



The name Kerala is pronounced Keralam in the local language, Malayalam. Two thousand years ago, one of three states in the region was called Cheralam in Classical Tamil. The leading native Malayali linguist and historian of the language, K. M. George, concurred with previously published beliefs that Chera and Kera are variants of the same word. A 3rd-century BCE rock inscription by north Indian emperor Asoka the Great references Kerala as Keralaputra.[1] The Graeco-Roman trade map Periplus Maris Erythraei references Kerala's Chera territory as Cerobothra.



A dolmen erected by Neolithic people in Marayur. Evidence of Kerala's early human occupation includes Dolmens of the Neolithic era, in the Marayur area. They are locally known as "muniyara", derived from muni (hermit or sage), and ara (dolmen).[2]

Rock-engravings in the Edakkal Caves (in Wayanad) are thought to date from the early to Late Neolithic eras around 5000 B.C.[3][4][5] The use of a specific Indus script pictogram in these caves suggests some relationship with the Indus Valley Civilization during the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age.[6]

Kerala and Hindu mythology

Parasurama]], surrounded by settlers, commanding Varuna to part the seas and reveal Kerala. According to Hindu mythology, the land of Kerala was recovered by Parasurama, a puranic character, from the Arabean Sea and hence it is also called Parasurama Kshetram (The Land of Parasurama). Parasurama was a warrior sage who used an axe as his major arm. He threw his arm across the sea and the water receded up to the spot where it reached. According to the legend this area extends from Gokarna to Kanyakumari.[7] Though the historicity of this story is challenged, consensus among the scholars in Geography is that a substantial portion of this land was under sea in ancient days.[8] Later on this legend expanded and entered a literary work of 17th or 18th century known as Keralolpathi which traces the origin of different aspects of early Kerala society such as land system and administration to the story of Parasurama.[9]

Another puranic character associated with Kerala is Mahabali, an asura and a prototypical king of justice who ruled the earth from Kerala. He won the war against Devas and drove out them to exile. Devas pleaded before Lord Vishnu who took his 5th incarnation as Vamana and pushed down Mahabali to Patala (the netherworld) in order to pacify the devas. There is a belief that, once a year, during the Onam festival, he returns to Kerala.[10]

The earliest Sanskrit text to mention Kerala by name is the Aitareya Aranyaka of Rigveda.[11] Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata also make a few references to Kerala.[12] The oldest of the surviving Puranas, the Matsya Purana, has a mention of Malaya Mountains of Kerala while it sets the story of Matsya (the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and King Manu (the first man).[13][14][15]

Ancient period

Kerala was a major spice exporter as early as 3,000 BCE, according to Sumerian Records.[16][17]

The word "Kerala" is first mentioned (as "Keralaputra") in a third century BCE rock inscription (Rock Edict 2) left by the Maurya emperor Asoka.[18] Kerala and Tamil Nadu once shared a common language and culture, within an area known as Tami akam.[19] In the 1st century BCE, Tamil-speaking Dravidians established the Chera Dynasty that ruled northern Kerala and western Tamil Nadu[20] from a capital at Vanchi. Southern Kerala was ruled by the Pandyan Kingdom, with a trading port variously identified by ancient Western sources as "Nelcynda" ("Neacyndi")[21] The Pandyas, Cheras and Cholas alternatively controlled the region in later times.

In the last centuries BCE, the coast became famous among the Greeks and Romans for its spices; especially black pepper. The Cheras had trading links with China, West Asia, Egypt, ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. The value of Rome's annual trade with India as a whole was estimated at no less than 50,000,000 sesterces;[22] contemporary Sangam literature describes Roman ships coming to Muziris in Kerala, laden with gold to exchange for pepper.[23] One of the earliest western traders to use the monsoon winds to reach Kerala may have been Eudoxus of Cyzicus, around 118 or 166 BCE, under the patronage of Ptolemy VIII, king of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. Kerala is identified on the Tabula Peutingeriana, the only known surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus.[24]

Kerala was identified by the name Malabar in early days. Muziris, Berkarai, Nelcynda etc. were the principle ports of that time.[25] Merchants from West Asia and Southern Europe established coastal posts and settlements in Kerala.[26] Jewish connection with Kerala started as early as 573 BC.[27][28] Arabs also had trade links with Kerala, possibly started before 4th century B.C, as Herodotus (B.C. 484-413) noted that the goods brought by Arabs from Kerala were sold to the Jews at Eden.[25] They intermarried with local people and with this admixture the large Muslim Mappila community of Kerala developed.[29] In the 4th century, some Christians also migrated from Persia and joined the early Malabar Christian community here.[30] Mappila was an honorific title that had been assigned to respected visitors from abroad and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim immigration could be ascribed to the denotation of respective communities as Juda Mappilas, Nasrani Mappilas, and Muslim Mappilas.[31][32] According to the legends of these communities, the earliest mosque,[33] synagogue(1568 C.E.),[34] and Christian churches[35] in India were built in Kerala. The proportion of Muslims, Christians and Jews were relatively small at this early stage; they co-existed harmoniously with a mutual acceptance between each other and the local Hindu society, aided with the commercial benefit begotten from this relation.[29]

Early medieval period

Much of history of the region from the 6th to the 8th century is obscure,[18] a Later Chera Kingdom was established c. 800 1102, primarily with the help of Arab spice merchants. This is also called the Kulasekhara dynasty of Mahodayapuram, as it was founded by Kulasekhara Varman, a Hindu Vaishnavaite alwar saint. Ay kings ruled southern Kerala, but by the 10th century the Ay kingdom declined and became a part of the Later Chera Kingdom.[36] A Keralite identity, distinct from the Tamils, became linguistically separate during this period.[37]

The Kulasekhara dynasty came to an end by twelfth century, weakened by the invasions and military subjugations of Rashtrakutas, Later Pandyas, and Later Cholas.[23] However, King Ravi Varma Kulashekhara of the southern Venad kingdom was able to establish a short-lived supremacy over southern India. But, after his death, in the absence of a strong central power, the state fractured into small warring principalities governed by Nair-Brahmin chieftains. From these, the kingdoms of Venad (Quilon), Kolathiri (Cannanore), Kozhikode (Calicut) Samuthiri and Kochi (Cochin) emerged.

Colonial era

This figure illustrates the path of Vasco da Gama heading for the first time to India (black line) The western spice-trade, especially in pepper, became increasingly lucrative. Around the 15th century, the Portuguese began to dominate the eastern shipping trade in general, and the spice-trade in particular, culminating in Vasco Da Gama's arrival in Kappad Kozhikode in 1498.[38][39][40] On 25 March 1505, Francisco de Almeida was appointed Viceroy of Portuguese India, with headquarters at Kochi. The Portuguese had taken advantage of conflicts between Kozhikode and Kochi to gain control of the trade, and established forts at Kannur, Cochin and Kollam but the Saamoothiri of Kozikode and his admiral Kunjali Marakkar resisted, and in 1571 the Portuguese were defeated at Chaliyam fort. De Lannoy]] surrenders to Marthanda Varma at the Battle of Colachel. Depiction at Padmanabhapuram Palace Tipu Sultan's fort at Palakkad; view from outside the northern wall. The weakened Portuguese were ousted by the Dutch East India Company, who took advantage of continuing conflicts between Kozhikode and Kochi to gain control of the trade. The Dutch in turn were weakened by constant battles with Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family, and were defeated at the Battle of Colachel in 1741. An agreement was signed by the Dutch and Travancore in 1753, in which the Dutch promised not to attack Travancore. This agreement was signed at Mavelikkara, so it is known as the Mavelikkara treaty. The Dutch were allied to French forces in the transcontinental Napoleonic Wars; forces of the British East India Company marched against them from Calicut and took their surrender and possessions on 20 October 1795. In 1766, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore invaded northern Kerala; his son and successor, Tipu Sultan, launched campaigns against the expanding British East India Company, resulting in two of the four Anglo-Mysore Wars. Tipu ultimately ceded Malabar District and South Kanara to the Company in the 1790s; the Company forged tributary alliances with Kochi in 1791 and Travancore in 1795. Malabar and South Kanara became part of the Madras Presidency.[41] Cochin]], Travancore and the South Kanara district There were major revolts in Kerala against British rule in the 20th century, until Independence was achieved. They include the 1921 Malabar Rebellion and the 1946 Punnapra-Vayalar uprising in Travancore.[42] Other actions by Kerala's political and spiritual leaders protested against social traditions such as untouchability, leading to the 1936 Temple Entry Proclamation that opened Hindu temples in Travancore to all castes; Malabar soon did likewise, and Cochin followed with a similar proclamation in 1948, after Independence. In the 1921 Moplah Rebellion, Mappila Muslims rioted against Hindu zamindars and the British Raj.[43]

Post Colonial period

After British India was partitioned in 1947 into India and Pakistan, Travancore and Cochin joined the Union of India and on 1 July 1949 were merged to form Travancore-Cochin. On 1 January 1950 (Republic Day), Travancore-Cochin was recognised as a state. The Madras Presidency was organised to form Madras State in 1947.

On 1 November 1956, the state of Kerala was formed by the States Reorganisation Act merging the Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks, which were merged with Tamil Nadu), and the taluk of Kasargod, South Kanara.[44] In 1957, elections for the new Kerala Legislative Assembly were held, and a reformist, Communist-led government came to power, under E. M. S. Namboodiripad.[44] It was the first time a Communist government was democratically elected to power anywhere in the world. It initiated pioneering land reforms, leading to lowest levels of rural poverty in India.[45]


Coconut trees can be found all over Kerala

Kerala is wedged between the Lakshadweep sea and the Western Ghats. Lying between north latitudes 8 18' and 12 48' and east longitudes 74 52' and 77 22',[46][47] Kerala experiences the humid equatorial tropic climate. The state has a coast of length [48] and the width of the state varies between 11 and 121 km (22 75 miles). 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; hence, most of the state is subject to comparatively little seismic and volcanic activity.[49] Pre-Cambrian and Pleistocene geological formations compose the bulk of Kerala s terrain. Anamudi from Eravikulam National Park Vembanad, the largest lake in Kerala

The eastern region of 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 (hence also known Palghat), 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 reach above 2,500 m (8200 ft). Anamudi, the highest peak in South India, is at an elevation of 2,695 metres (8,842 ft). Just west of the mountains lie the midland plains comprising central Kerala, dominated by rolling hills and valleys.[46] Generally ranging between elevations of 250 1,000 m (820 3300 ft), the eastern portions of the Nilgiri and Palni Hills include such formations as Agastya Mala and Anamala.

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 Vembanad, Kerala s largest body of water, dominates the Backwaters; it lies between Alappuzha and Kochi and is more than in area. Around 8% of India's waterways (measured by length) are found in Kerala.[50] The most important of Kerala s forty-four rivers include the Periyar (244 km), the Bharathapuzha (209 km), the Pamba (176 km), the Chaliyar (169 km), the Kadalundipuzha River (130 km), the Valapattanam (129 km) and the Achankovil (128 km). The average length of the rivers of Kerala is 64 km. Many of the rivers are small and entirely fed by monsoon rains.[46] 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. The rivers also face problems such as sand mining and pollution.[51] The state experiences several natural hazards such as landslides, floods, lightning and droughts. The state was also affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

A catastrophic flood in Kerala in 1341 CE drastically modified its terrain and consequently affected its history. The course of the river Periyar was changed, and the Arabian Sea receded several miles. The Kuttanad region became cultivable, and the Muziris (Kodungalloor) harbour became defunct. A new harbour was developed at Kochi.[52][53]


With around 120 140 rainy days per year[54], Kerala has a wet and maritime tropical climate influenced by the seasonal heavy rains of the southwest summer monsoon and northeast winter monsoon.[55] About 65 percent of the rainfall occurs during the first season (June to August) corresponding to the southwest monsoon and the rest during the second season (September to December) corresponding to northeast monsoon.[55] Southwest monsoon: The moisture-laden winds on reaching the southernmost point of the Indian Peninsula, due to its topography, become divided into two parts: the Arabian Sea Branch and the Bay of Bengal Branch. The Arabian Sea Branch of the Southwest Monsoon first hits the Western Ghats in Kerala, thus making the area the first state in India to receive rain from the Southwest Monsoon. Northeast monsoon: The distribution of pressure patterns are reversed during this season and the cold winds from North-India pick up moisture from the Bay of Bengal and precipitate it in the east coast of peninsular India. In Kerala, the influence of northeast monsoon is seen towards southern districts only.[56] Kerala's rainfall averages 3,107 mm (122 in.) annually. Some of Kerala's drier lowland regions average only 1,250 mm (49 in.); the mountains of eastern Idukki district receive more than 5,000 mm (197 in.) of orographic precipitation, the highest in the state. In eastern Kerala, a drier tropical wet and dry climate prevails.

During summer, Kerala is prone to gale force winds, storm surges, cyclone-related torrential downpours, occasional droughts, and rises in sea level.[57] The mean daily temperatures range from 19.8  C to 36.7  C.[46] Mean annual temperatures range from 25.0 27.5  C in the coastal lowlands to 20.0 22.5  C in the eastern highlands.[57]

Adjacent states

Flora and fauna

State symbols of Kerala[58]
State animal Indian elephant 50px
State bird Great Hornbill 50px
State tree Coconut tree 50px
State flower Cassia fistula 50px

Haliastur indus commonly known as Krishnapparunthu in Kerala Common Lime Butterfly]] (Papilio demoleus) in Kadavoor Much of Kerala's notable biodiversity is concentrated and protected in the Western Ghats. Almost one 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 medicinal plants.[59][60]

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.[60] Two of the world s Ramsar Convention listed wetlands Lake Sasthamkotta and the Vembanad-Kol wetlands 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,[61] 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), 453 species of birds, 202 species of freshwater fishes, 169 species of reptiles (139 of them endemic), and 89 species of amphibians (86 endemic).[59] These are threatened by extensive habitat destruction, including soil erosion, landslides, salinization, and resource extraction.[62]

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).[60] 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.[60] Reptiles include the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), viper, python, and Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) . Kerala's birds are legion Malabar Trogon, the Great Hornbill, Kerala Laughingthrush, Darter, and Southern Hill Myna are several emblematic species. In lakes, wetlands, and waterways, fish such as kadu (stinging catfish) and Choottachi (Orange chromide Etroplus maculatus) are found.[60]


Kerala's fourteen districts are distributed among Kerala's six historical regions: North Malabar (Far-north Kerala), South Malabar (northern Kerala), Kochi (central Kerala), Northern Travancore, Central Travancore (southern Kerala) and Southern Travancore (Far-south Kerala). Population density map of Kerala graded from darkest shading (most dense) to lightest (least dense)

Code[63] District Region Population(2011)[64] Area (as at 2001)[64]
KS Kasaragod Malabar 1,302,600
KN Kannur Malabar 2,525,637
WA Wayanad Malabar 816,558
KZ Kozhikode Malabar 3,089,543
MA Malappuram Malabar 4,110,948
PL Palakkad Malabar 2,810,892
TS Thrissur Kochi 3,110,327
ER Ernakulam Kochi 3,279,860
ID Idukki Travancore 1,107,453
KT Kottayam Travancore 1,979,451
AL Alappuzha Travancore 2,121,943
PT Pathanamthitta Travancore 1,195,537
KL Kollam Travancore 2,629,703
TV Thiruvananthapuram Travancore 3,307,284

Kerala's 14 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.Taluks of kerala are further divided into 1453 revenue villages.[65] Consequent to the 74th Amendment to the Constitution of India, the Local self-government Institutions are to function as the third tier of Government and it constitutes 14 District Panchayats, 152 Block Panchayats, 978 Grama Panchayats, 60 Municipalities, 5 Corporations and 1 Township.[66] Mah , a part of the Indian union territory of Pondicherry (Puducherry), is a coastal exclave surrounded by Kerala on all of its landward approaches.

In India, self-governance of the major cities rest with Municipal corporations; there are 5 such bodies in Kerala that govern Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode, Kollam and Thrissur.[67] While Thiruvananthapuram (formerly known as Travancore) – the state capital – with a population of 750,000 in the city proper, is the largest city of Kerala,[68] Kochi the most densely populated city in the state, holds the second position. Kochi metropolitan area, with a population of 2.1 million is the largest urban agglomeration in Kerala.


Kerala High Court in Kochi The Kerala Legislative Assembly Building in Thiruvananthapuram Following the Constitution of India, the State of Kerala has a parliamentary system of representative democracy for its governance; universal suffrage is granted to state residents. The government structure is organized into the traditional three branches: Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.

  1. Legislature: 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 the Speaker's absence, by the Deputy Speaker. Kerala has 140 Assembly constituencies.[69] The state sends 20 members to the Lok Sabha and 9 to the Rajya Sabha.[70]
  2. Executive: The Governor of Kerala is the constitutional head of state, and is appointed by the President of India.[71][72] 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. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs.
  3. Judiciary: The judiciary consists of the Kerala High Court and a system of lower courts. The High Court, located at Kochi, has a Chief Justice along with 26 permanent and two additional (pro tempore) justices. Kerala High Court also hears cases from the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.

Local Governance: Though the local self-government bodies namely, Panchayat, Municipalities and Corporations existed in Kerala since 1959, the major initiative to decentralize the governance in Kerala was started only in 1993, conforming to the constitutional amendments of central government in this direction. With the enactment of Kerala Panchayati Raj Act and Kerala Municipality Act in the year 1994, the state entered a new era of local self-governance. Kerala Panchayati Raj Act envisages a 3-tier system of local-government with Gram panchayat, Block panchayat and District Panchayat forming the hierarchy. The acts ensure clear cut demarcation of power among these institutions. However, Kerala Municipality Act envisages a single tier system for urban areas, with the institution of Municipality designed at par with Gram panchayat of the former system. Substantial administrative, legal and financial powers are delegated these bodies to ensure efficient decentralization. As per the present norms, the state government devolves about 40 per cent of the state plan outlay to the local government. The state has pioneered in many of these steps to empower local self-governance and it acted as a turning point in the nation's history of decentralization.[73]

Kerala hosts two major political alliances: the United Democratic Front (India) (UDF led by the Indian National Congress) and the Left Democratic Front (Kerala) (LDF led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)). At present, the UDF is the ruling coalition in government; Oommen Chandy of the INC is the Chief Minister of Kerala and V.S. Achuthanandan of the LDF is the Chief Opposition leader. Strikes, protests and marches are ubiquitous in Kerala due to the comparatively strong presence of labour unions.[74][75]


Technopark]].Thiruvananthapuram . Technopark accounts for nearly 70% of the state's IT exports.

Year Gross State Domestic Product
1980 42,860
1985 75,200
1990 140,980
1995 387,620
2000 697,920
2005 1,025,080[76]

Rural women processing coir threads Cardomom plant A typical paddy field in Kerala 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 2007 2008, 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%[77] and 5.99%[78] in the 1990s).[77] The state clocked 8.93% growth in enterprises from 1998 to 2005 compared with 4.80% nationally.[79] Relatively few such enterprises are major corporations or manufacturers.[57] Kerala's Human Development Index rating is the highest in India.[80] This apparently paradoxical "Kerala phenomenon" or "Kerala model of development" of very high human development and not much high economic development results from the strong service sector.[57][81]

Kerala's economy depends on emigrants working in foreign countries (mainly in the Persian Gulf countries such as United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia) and remittances annually contribute more than a fifth of GSDP.[82] As of 2008, the Gulf countries altogether have a Keralite population of more than 2.5 million, who send home annually a sum of USD 6.81 billion,[83] which is more than 15.13% of Remittance to India in 2008, the highest among Indian States.

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.[78][84] Nearly half of Kerala's people are dependent on agriculture alone for income.[85] Some 600 varieties[60] of rice (Kerala's most important staple food and cereal crop)[86] are harvested from 3105.21 km2 (a decline from 5883.4 km2 in 1990)[86] of paddy fields; 688,859 tonnes are produced per annum.[85] Other key crops include coconut (899,198 ha), tea, coffee (23% of Indian production,[87] or 57,000 tonnes[87]), 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.

Kerala's coastal belt of Karunagappally is known for high background radiation from thorium-containing monazite sand. In coastal panchayats, median outdoor radiation levels are more than 4 mGy/yr and, in certain locations on the coast, it is as high as 70 mGy/yr.[88]

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)[84] involves extraction of ilmenite, kaolin, bauxite, silica, quartz, rutile, zircon, and sillimanite.[85] 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.[89] On 1 October 2011, Kerala became the first state in the country to have banking facility in every village.[90] Unemployment in 2007 was estimated at 9.4%;[91] underemployment, low employability of youths, and a 13.5% female participation rate are chronic issues,[92] [93] as is the practice of Nokku kooli, 'wages for looking on'.[94] By 1999 2000, the rural and urban poverty rates dropped to 10.0% and 9.6% respectively.[95]

The state's 2005 2006 budget was 219 billion.[96] The state government's tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) amounted to 111,248 million 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 in 2005, nearly double the 6,847 million revenues of 2000.[97] 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.[98]

The state treasury has suffered loss of thousands of millions of rupees thanks to the state staging over 100 hartals annually in recent times. A record total of 223 hartals were observed in 2006, resulting in a revenue loss of over 2000 crore.[99]


Agriculture in Kerala has passed through many changing phases. The major change occurred in the 1970s when rice production became less attractive due to increased availability of rice supply all over India and decreased availability of labour supply. Consequently, investment in rice production decreased significantly and a major portion of the land was shifted for the cultivation of perennial tree crops and seasonal crops. Profitability of crops in Kerala is reducing due to shortage of farm labourers, high price of land and uneconomic size of operational holding area.[100] Kerala produces 97% of the national output of pepper and accounts for 85% of the area under natural rubber in the country. Coconut, tea, coffee, cashew, and spices including cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg comprise a critical agricultural sector. The key agricultural staple is rice, with some six hundred varieties grown in Kerala's extensive paddy fields. Nevertheless, home gardens comprise a significant portion of the agricultural sector. Related animal husbandry is also important, and is touted by proponents as a means of alleviating rural poverty and unemployment among women, the marginalized, and the landless. Feeding, milking, breeding, management, health care, and concomitant micro-enterprises provide work for around 32 lakh (3.2 million) of Kerala's 55 lakh (5.5 million) households. The state government seeks to promote such activity via educational campaigns and the development of new cattle breeds such as the "Sunandini".


A fisherman in rural Kerala With 590 km of coastal belt, 400,000 hectares of inland water resources and about 220,000 active fishermen, Kerala is the leading producer of fish among the states of India. According to 2003 04 reports, about 1.1 million people earn their livelihood from fishing and allied activities such as drying, processing, packaging, exporting and transporting fisheries. The annual yield of the sector was estimated as 608,000 tons in 2003 04.[101] This contributes to about 3% of the total economy of the state. In 2006, about 22% of the total Indian marine fishery yield was from Kerala industry.[102]

The output of the sector is highly seasonal in nature and the major season is during the southwest monsoon. During this season, a suspended mud bank would be developed along the shore which in turn leads to calm ocean water and hence peak output for the fishermen. This unique phenomena is locally called chakara. The fish landings constitute of large variety; pelagic species (59%), demersal species (23%), crustaceans and molluscs.[102]


KSRTC]] is the major agency providing long-haul public bus service in Kerala. The main Portico of the Trivandrum Central Railway Station Cochin International Airport (CIAL) State Water Transport Department is the main agency providing inland water transport facilities.


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.

Roads in Kerala includes 1,524 km of National highway (2.6% of nation's total), 4341.6 km of state highway and 18900 km of district roads.[103] Most of Kerala's west coast is accessible through two national highways, NH 47, and NH 17 and eastern side is accessible through various State Highways. There is also a Hill Highway (Kerala) proposed, to make easy access to eastern hills.

NH 17 connects Edapally (Kochi) to Panvel (Maharashtra) and is the longest stretch of national highway through the state. The other major national highway passing through the state is National Highway 47 which connects Salem to Kanyakumari and passes through the major towns and cities like Palakkad, Thrissur, Kochi, Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram. The Salem-Kochi stretch of this highway is a part of North-South Corridor of the Indian highway system. The length of the National Highway 47 (India) through Kerala is 416.8 km.[104] NH 49 (Kochi Dhanushkodi), NH 208 (Kollam Thirumangalam), NH 212 (Kozhikode Mysore), NH 213 (Kozhikode Palakkad), NH 220 (Kollam theni) are the other national highways serving the state of Kerala.

The Department of Public Works is responsible for maintaining and expanding the state highways system and major district roads.The Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP), which includes the GIS-based Road Information and Management Project (RIMS), is responsible for maintaining and expanding the state highways in Kerala; it also oversees few major district roads.[105][106]

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. The accidents are mainly result of the narrow roads and irresponsible driving. [107]


The Indian Railways' Southern Railway line runs through the state, connecting most major towns and cities except those in the highland districts of Idukki and Wayanad.

Dates of beginning of railway transport in various sections of the state are given below:-

Beypore-Tirur (12 March 1861); Shoranur-Ernakulam (1902);m Shenkottai-Punalur (26 November 1904); Punalur-Thiruvananthapuram (4 November 1931); Ernakulam-Kottayam (1956); Kottayam-Kollam (1958); Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari (1979); Thrissur-Guruvayur (1994).[108]

The railway network in the state is controlled by three divisions of Southern Railway, namely Trivandrum Railway Division, Palakkad Railway Division and Madurai Railway Division. Thiruvananthapuram Central is the busiest railway station in the state and second busiest in the Southern Railway Zone after Chennai Central. Kerala's major railway stations are Kannur, Kozhikode, Tirur, Shornur Junction, Palakkad Junction, Thrissur, Angamaly For Kalady, Ernakulam Town, Ernakulam Junction, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Tiruvalla, Chengannur, Kayamkulam Junction, Kollam Junction and Thiruvananthapuram Central.


Kerala has three major international airports, at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. Two more international airports are proposed at Kannur, Pathanamthitta.[109] Trivandrum International Airport is the first International airport in an Indian non-metro city. The Cochin International Airport is the busiest and largest in the state, and was the first Indian airport to be incorporated as a public limited company; funded by nearly 10,000 Non Resident Indians from 30 countries.[110]

Inland water transport in Kerala

Kerala, with numerous backwaters, is one of the few states in India where waterways are successfully used for commercial Inland Water Transport. The transportation is mainly done with country craft and passenger vessels. There are 67 navigable rivers in Kerala. The total length of the Inland Waterways in the state is 1687 km. The main constraints to the expansion of Inland Water transport are lack of depth in the waterway caused by silting, lack of maintenance of navigation system and bank protection, accelerated growth of the water hyacinth, lack of modern inland craft terminals and cargo handling system. A 205 km canal, National Waterway 3, runs between Kottapuram and Kollam.[111]


Kerala is home to 3.44% of India's population; 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.[112] Kerala's rate of population growth is India's lowest,[113] and Kerala's decadal growth (9.42% in 2001) is less than half the all-India average of 21.34%.[114] 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.[46]


The 31.8 million[115] Keralites are predominantly of Malayali descent, 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.[116]


Malayalam is Kerala's official language; Konkani, Tamil, Tulu, Kannada, Hindi, Mahl and various Adivasi (Tribal) languages are also spoken by ethnic minorities especially in the south-western region.


Kerala's principal religions are Hinduism (56.2%), Islam (24.7%), and Christianity (19.0%).[117] In comparison with the rest of India, Kerala experiences relatively little sectarianism.[118]

According to 2001 Census of India figures, 56% of Kerala's residents are Hindus, 24% are Muslims, 19% are Christians, and the remaining 1% follows other religions.[117] The major Hindu castes are Ezhavas, Nairs, Nambudiri and Dalits. Rest of the Hindu castes including those in the list of Other Backward Class (OBC) are minority communities. Islam and Judaism arrived in Kerala through Arab traders.[119] Muslims of Kerala, generally referred to as Moplahs, mostly follow the Shafi'i Madh'hab under Sunni Islam. The major Muslim organizations are Sunni, Mujahid and Jama'at-e-Islami. A significant Jewish community existed in Kerala until the 20th century when most of them migrated to Israel leaving only a handful of families.[120] The Paradesi Synagogue at Kochi is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Christianity is believed to have reached the shores of Kerala in 52 CE with the arrival of St Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ[121][122] The major Christian denominations are Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Protestant. Jainism has a considerable following in the Wayanad district. Buddhism was dominant at the time of Ashoka the Great but vanished by the 8th century CE.[123]

Adi Sankara, born in Kaladi, Kerala propounded Advaita Vedanta which is one of the most important influential doctrines in Hindu philosophy. Historically, steps taken by many progressive and tolerant Hindu kings[124] and movements like that of Vaikunda Swami [125] and Narayana Guru for social reform and tolerance helped to establish Kerala as one of the most socially progressive states in India. Certain Hindu communities such as the Nairs, some Ezhavas and the Muslims around North Malabar 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.[126] Owing to the former matrilineal system, women in Kerala enjoy a high social status.[127] However, gender inequality among low caste men and women is reportedly higher compared to that in other castes.[128] .

Table : Percentage distribution of population according to community by district (The statistics are based on a sample survey in 1998 and hence not accurate) [129]

District SC/ST Nairs Ezhavas Syrian Christians Latin Christians Muslims Others Total
Thiruvananthapuram 11.3 13.2 24.9 1.4 23.7 15.3 10.2 100
Kollam 16.7 24.5 16.7 3.6 13.6 14.2 10.7 100
Pathanamthitta 8.6 11.0 13.5 49.0 9.5 1.3 7.1 100
Alappuzha 7.6 13.7 39.3 13.7 2.9 7.0 15.8 100
Kottayam 8.2 8.8 21.1 29.2 10.9 11.9 9.9 100
Idukki 14.3 7.6 15.4 26.2 12.8 5.4 18.3 100
Ernakulam 7.4 8.0 14.3 13.4 21.3 22.7 12.9 100
Thrissur 8.7 8.2 24.3 10.8 23.9 15.5 8.6 100
Palakkad 14.2 10.3 22.9 0.9 3.8 32.3 15.6 100
Malappuram 5.3 1.8 8.3 0.5 3.9 75.3 4.9 100
Kozhikode 4.9 13.7 31.4 0.9 0.4 41.8 6.9 100
Wayanad 16.3 16.3 19.8 17.0 3.2 17.0 10.4 100
Kannur 3.5 19.5 30.3 3.6 0.7 27.5 14.9 100
Kasargodu 8.0 2.1 13.6 0.1 2.3 47.0 26.9 100
Kerala 9.1 11.1 21.6 9.3 10.6 26.8 11.5 100

Human Development Index

Kerala finds a unique place among the states of India with the highest Human Development Index (HDI), a status for which the state is noted in many global platforms from 1981 onward, but it has a poor record of economic development coupled with a remarkably lower per capita income, even lower than the national average.[130] Comparatively higher spending of the government in primary level education, health care and elimination of poverty from 19th century onward has helped the state to keep a very high HDI,[130] marked latest as 0.92 in India Human Development Report (2011), prepared by the central government's Institute of Applied Manpower Research.[131][132] But, sustainability of this lopsided development model with low economic growth has been under question from many spheres. Nonetheless, the Human Development Report, 2005 prepared by Centre for Development Studies envisages a virtuous phase of inclusive development for the state since the advancement in human development has already started aiding the economic development of the state.[130]

According to a 2005 2006 national survey, Kerala has one of the highest literacy rates (94.59%) among Indian states[11] and life expectancy (74 years) was among the highest in India in 2011.[133] 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.[134] By 1999 2000, the rural and urban poverty rates dropped to 10.0% and 9.6% respectively.[95] These changes stem largely from efforts begun in the late 19th century by the kingdoms of Cochin and Travancore to boost social welfare.[135][136] This focus was maintained by Kerala's post-independence government.[57][80]

Kerala has the highest life expectancy in the country which is nearly 75 years and 78 years respectively for males and females. The life expectancy of Kerala is similar to developed nations in the world that shows the facilities for treatment and health. Kerala's healthcare system has garnered international acclaim. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation designated Kerala the world's first "baby-friendly state" because of its effective promotion of breast-feeding over formulas[137] For example, more than 95% of Keralite births are hospital-delivered.[138] Aside from ayurveda (both elite and popular forms),[139] siddha, and many endangered and endemic modes of traditional medicine, including kalari, marmachikitsa and vishavaidyam, are practiced. Some occupational communities such as Kaniyar were known as native medicine men in relation with practice of such streams of medical systems, apart from their traditional vocation.[140] These propagate via gurukula discipleship,[139] and comprise a fusion of both medicinal and supernatural treatments,[139] and are partly responsible for drawing increasing numbers of medical tourists.

A steadily aging population (11.2% of Keralites are over age 60[80]) and low birthrate (18 per 1,000)[141] make Kerala one of the few regions in the developing world to have undergone the "demographic transition" characteristic of such developed nations as Canada, Japan, and Norway.[81] 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.[142] sub-replacement fertility level and infant mortality rate is lower compared to other states (estimated at 12[57][141] to 14[143] deaths per 1,000 live births)

Gender relations also form a part in the Quality of life indicators and according to Human Development Report (1996) published by United Nations Development Programme, Kerala's Gender Development Index was reported as 597 and higher than any other state of India. Many factors such as high rates of female literacy, education, work participation and life expectancy along with favourable female-to-male ratio has been contributed to this achievement.[144] Kerala's female-to-male ratio (1.058) is significantly higher than that of the rest of India.[81][145].

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.[143]Yet this is likely explained by the fact that, as mentioned above, Kerala has a higher ratio of senior citizens than India. Kerala's 13.3% prevalence of low birth weight is substantially higher than that of First World nations.[141] 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 wells is a problem worsened by the widespread lack of sewers.[146] In respect of women empowerment also, some negative factors such as higher suicide rate, lower share of earned income, complaints of sexual harassment and limited freedom are reported.[144]


Hardware training for students given by "IT@SCHOOL" project The University of Kerala's administrative building in Thiruvananthapuram.

Following the instructions of the Wood's despatch of 1854, both the princely states, Travancore and Cochin, launched mass education drives with the support from different agencies mainly based on castes and communities and introduced a system of grant-in-aid to attract more private initiatives. However, none of the government schools gave admission to the children belonging to the low-castes till 1914 and early the initiative of the private schools especially those run by Christian managements to admit the Dalits, opened the door for social mobility in Kerala. Social leaders like Narayana Guru and Ayyankali also initiated educational missions among the lower castes in Kerala. In order to ensure the social reformation of own Communities, organization like Nair Service Society of Nairs, SNDP of Ezhavas, Muslim Mahajana Sabha of Malabar Muslims, Yoga Kshema Sabha of Nambudiris and different congregations of Christian churches competed to open maximum number of schools in the pre-independence period and this inter-community competition led to considerable improvement in the enrollment of students, mass educational levels, employment opportunities and position of power. Compared to Travancore and Cochin regions, Malabar lagged in the educational achievements during this period.[147]

Kerala successfully overcame the first generation issues in education and in 1991, was the first state in India to be recognized as a totally literate state, though the effective literacy rate at that time was only 90 percent. The net enrollment in elementary education is almost 100 per cent and is almost balanced among different sexes, social groups and regions, unlike other states of India.[148] State topped the Education Development Index (EDI) among 21 major states in India in year 2006 2007.[149] According to the first Economic Census conducted in 1977, 99.7 per cent of the villages in Kerala had a primary school within 2 km, 98.6 had a middle school within 2 km and 96.7 per cent had a high school or higher secondary school within 5 km, far ahead of national averages.[150]

Kerala's educational system has been developed by institutions owned or aided by the government. The educational system prevailed in the state schooling is for 10 years which is streamlined into lower primary, upper primary and secondary school stages with a 4+3+3 pattern.[148] After 10 years of secondary schooling, students typically enroll in Higher Secondary Schooling in one of the three major streams liberal arts, commerce or science.[151] Upon completing the required coursework, students can enroll in general or professional under-graduate(UG) programmes.

Schools and colleges are run by the government, private trusts, or individuals. Many of the schools owned by private sector are aided by government. Majority of the public schools are affiliated to Kerala State Education Board. Other familiar educational boards are Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), or the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). English is the language of instruction in most self-financing schools, while government and government aided schools offer English or Malayalam[151]

No fees (or a nominal fees) are required in schools run by or aided by government. Fees concerning the higher and technical education are very low; the ratio of recovery of government's revenue expenditure was 2.6% in 2006 2007.[152] However, the lacking of fees or low fees does not imply low educational cost, as the students incur other costs of several types (examination fees, special fees, material costs, clothing travelling, private tuition). In fact, according to the 61st round of National Sample Survey (2004 2005), per capita spending on education by the rural households resulted to be more than twice the national average ( 41 for Kerala, 18 for India). Urban Indian spending, on the contrary, resulted to be greater than Kerala's ( 74 for India, 66 for Kerala). However, the survey reveals that the rural-urban difference in expenditure on education by households was much less in Kerala than in the rest of India.[153]

A few universities in Kerala are Kannur University, Mahatma Gandhi University, University of Calicut, University of Kerala, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kerala Agricultural University, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit.[154] Premiere educational institutions in Kerala are Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, one of the thirteen Indian Institutes of Management, National Institute of Technology Calicut (NITC), Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST). Kerala also has a National law school which is known as the National University of Advanced Legal Studies.Center for Development Studies offers M Phil and PhD level courses of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

The Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries. In attempting to solve astronomical problems, the Kerala school independently created a number of important mathematics concepts including results series expansion for trigonometric functions.


Culture of Kerala is composite and cosmopolitan in nature and it's an integral part of Indian culture.[12] It has been elaborated upon through centuries of contact with neighboring and overseas cultures.[155] However, the geographical insularity of Kerala from the rest of the country has caused to develop a distinctive outlook in every spheres of culture such as lifestyle, art, architecture, language, literature and social institutions.[12]


Origin of dance and music in Kerala could be traced to the tribal art forms and folk songs which were performed in those early days to propitiate the local deities.[156] With the arrival of Aryan Brahmins in Kerala (8th century CE[157]), who were instrumental in the development of many semi-classical art forms of Kerala, Hindu temples and associated institutions took over the role of development of many ritualistic art forms; emergence of new temple arts like Koodiyattom, Koothu and Kathakali have to be seen in this context.[156] Koodiyattom, which emerged as a popular temple art by 9th century,[158] is a Sanskrit theatre tradition,[159] and is officially recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.[160] Kerala natanam, an offshoot of Kathakali, Kaliyattam, Mohiniaattam (dance of the enchantress), Theyyam, Thullal and Padayani are other popular performing arts of Kerala. Of these, Kathakali and Mohiniattam are the most recognized Indian Classical Dance traditions from Kerala.

Some non-Hindu religious dances are also popular in Kerala like Margamkali, Parisamuttu and chavittu nadakom of Christians and Oppana of Muslims. Oppana has its roots in the Arab dances and it combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalizations.[161] Margam Kali is a traditional group dance form traceable back to 17th century, originally performed during Syrian Christian festivals.[162] Nowadays, many of these art forms are largely performed only during marriage ceremonies or at youth festivals. Contemporary art and performance styles including those employing mimicry and parody are also popular now.


Development of classical music in Kerala is attributed to the contributions it received from the traditional performance arts associated with the temple culture of Kerala.[163] Development of the indigenous classical music form, Sopana Sangeetham, illustrates the rich contribution that temple culture has made to the arts of Kerala.[163] Carnatic music dominates Keralite traditional music. This was the result of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma's popularization of the genre in the 19th century.[164][165] 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's visual arts range from traditional murals to the works of Raja Ravi Varma, the state's most renowned painter.[163] Most of the castes and communities in Kerala have rich collection of folk songs and ballads associated with a variety of themes; Vadakkan Pattukal (Northern Ballads), Thekkan pattukal (Southern Ballads), Vanchi pattukal (Boat Songs), Mappila Pattukal (Muslim songs) and Pallipattukal (Church songs) are a few of them.[166]


Kerala is also known as The land of spices and its cuisine is known for it's spicy ingredients. Main course of food is rice; breakfast, lunch or dinner, its some sort of rice preparation. Popular breakfast dishes are Idli-Vada-Chutney, Puttu-Kadala-Payasam or Puttu-Payar-Pappadam, Appam or Idiyappam with egg masala, Tapioca & fish curry etc. Typical lunch dish is Rice and curry along with rasam,pulisherry and sambar. The vegetarian feast is called sadhya where the meal is served on a banana leaf and a cup of Payasam would be followed. Popular snacks include banana chips, yam crisps, Tapioca chips, Unniyappam, Kuzhalappam etc. Sea food items are also splendid in the diet of Keralites; Karimeen, Prawn, shrimp and crustacean dishes are popular in the state.[167] 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, North Indian dresses such as Salwar kameez are also popular among women in Kerala.


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. Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar and Kerala Varma Valiakoi Thampuran are noted for their contribution to Malayalam prose. 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, M. T. Vasudevan Nair and O. N. V. Kurup 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[168] The God of Small Things is set in the Kottayam town of Ayemenem, have gained international recognition.[169]


Elephants have been an integral part of culture of Kerala. Kerala is the home to largest domesticated elephant population in India; about 700 Indian elephants, owned by temples as well as individuals. These elephants are mainly employed for the processions and displays associated with festivals celebrated all around the state. About 10,000 festivals are celebrated in the state annually and some animal lovers have sometimes raised concerns regarding the overwork of domesticated elephants.[170] In Malayalam literature, elephants are referred to as the 'sons of the sahya. Elephant is the state animal of Kerala[65] and is featured on the emblem of the Government of Kerala. Malayalam calendar (Also known as Kollavarsham), a solar calendar started from 825 C.E. in Kerala serves as the official calendar of Kerala and finds common usage in planning agricultural and religious activities.


The National Family Health Survey 3, conducted in 2007 ranked Kerala as a state with the highest media exposure in India. Dozens of newspapers are published in Kerala, in nine major languages,[171] but principally Malayalam and English. The most widely circulating Malayalam-language newspapers are Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, Madhyamam, Deshabhimani, Mangalam, Kerala Kaumudi, Chandrika, Thejas, Janayugam, Janmaboomi, Deepika and Siraj Daily. Major Malayalam periodicals include Mathrubhumi, India Today Malayalam, Madhyamam weekly, Grihalakshmi, Vanitha, Dhanam, Chithrabhumi, and Bhashaposhini.

Doordarshan is the state-owned television broadcaster. Multi system operators provide a mix of Malayalam, English and international channels via cable television. Some of the popular Malayalam television channels are Asianet, Surya TV, Kiran TV, Mazhavil Manorama, Manorama News, Indiavision, Kairali TV, Kairali WE, Kairali People, Yes Indiavision, Asianet News, Asianet plus, Amrita TV, Reporter, Jaihind, Jeevan TV, Media One TV etc. All India Radio, the national radio service, reaches much of Kerala via its Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Thrissur, Alappuzha, Kozhikode and Kannur Malayalam-language broadcasts. Television serials, reality shows and the Internet have become a major source of entertainment and information for the people of Kerala. A Malayalam version of Google News was launched in September 2008.[172] Regardless, Keralites maintain high rates of newspaper and magazine subscriptions. A sizeable "people's science" movement has taken root in the state, and such activities as writers' cooperatives are becoming increasingly common.[81][173]

BSNL, Reliance Infocomm, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Tata Docomo and Aircel are the major cell phone service providers in the state.[174] Broadband internet services are widely available throughout the state; some of the major ISPs are BSNL, Asianet Satellite communications, Reliance Communications, Airtel and VSNL. According to the Telecom Regulatory Commission of India(TRAI) report, as of January 2012 total number of wireless phone subscribers in kerala is about 34.3 million and the wireline subscriber base is at 3.2 million, accounting to the telephone density of 107.77.[174] Unlike in many other States, urban-rural divide is not visible in Kerala with respect to mobile phone penetration.[175]

Malayalam films carved a niche for itself in the Indian film industry with the presentation of social themes.[176] Malayalam cinema takes a wide variety of themes in its making and it is far ahead of Hindi or Tamil cinema in terms of its artistic value, due to the reflection of social consciousness attributed to the literary connection it had from 1960s.[177] It has been producing both parallel and mainstream cinema for years and won national recognition by winning the Presidents Awards for the cinemas Chemmeen, Nirmalyam and Swayamvaram. Directors from Kerala like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, John Abraham, G. Aravindan have made considerable contribution to the Indian parallel cinema. Kerala has also given birth to numerous talented actors such as Bharath Gopi, Prem Nazir, Mammotty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Murali, Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Cochin Haneefa, Thilakan and Nedumudi Venu. Movies produced in Hindi, Tamil and English (Made in Hollywood) are popular among Keralites. Late Malayalam actor Prem Nazir holds the world record for having acted as the protagonist of over 720 movies.[178] Since 1980s, actors Mammootty and Mohanlal have dominated the movie industry; Mammootty has won 3 national awards while Mohanlal has 2 in his credit.[179] The media,telecommunications, broadcasting and cable services are regulated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The current Advisor of TRAI is Dr Sibichen K Mathew for the Karnataka and Kerala region.[180][181]


Almost all traditional sports and games of Keralites failed to stand the test of time; either disappeared from the land or have become just an art-form performed during festivals. These include Poorakkali, Padayani, Thalappandukali, Onathallu, Parichamuttukali, Velakali, Kilithattukali etc.[182] However, Kalaripayattu, the mother of all martial arts in the world[183] is an exception and many people enthusiastically practice this indigenous martial sport. It has also attracted interest from foreign countries and found place in global media like BBC.[184] Another traditional sport of Kerala is the boat race, especially the race of Snake boats.[182]

Now, cricket and football have become most popular sports in the state; both were introduced in Malabar during British colonial period in 19th century. A few cricketers like Tinu Yohannan,[185] Shanthakumaran Sreesanth[186] and Abey Kuruvilla[187] found place in the national cricket team. In spite of the popularity of cricket in the state, Kerala cricket team has not yet been able to make good performance in Ranji Trophy, the premier first class cricket tournament in India which leads to a conclusion that the standard of Kerala cricket team is yet to match that of many other state teams.[182] A cricket club from Kerala, Kochi Tuskers played for Kochi in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2011. Nonetheless, the team was disbanded after one season due to conflict of interests among its promoters.[186] Kerala has made much recognized achievements in National football, and has also contributed many notable footballers like I. M. Vijayan, C. V. Pappachan, V. P. Sathyan, and Jo Paul Ancheri.[188][189] Kerala state football team has won Santhosh Trophy 5 times, in 1973, 1992, 1993, 2001 and 2004. And, they were the runner-ups for 7 times, a record they share with the state team of Goa.[190]

In sports, most admired achievements for Kerala come from Athletics. Among the prominent athletes hailing from the state P. T. Usha, Shiny Wilson and M.D. Valsamma are both Padma Shri as well as Arjuna Award winners while K. M. Beenamol and Anju Bobby George are Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna as well as Arjuna Award winners. T. C. Yohannan, Suresh Babu, Sinimol Paulose, Angel Mary Joseph, Mercy Kuttan, K. Saramma, K. C. Rosakutty and Padmini Selvan are the other Arjuna Award winners from Kerala.[182][191] Volleyball is another popular sport[192] and is often played on makeshift courts on sandy beaches along the coast. Jimmy George was a notable Indian volleyball player, rated in his prime as among the world's ten best players.[193] Other popular sports include badminton, basketball and kabaddi.


Trivandrum]] The stone sculpture of Kuruvan and Kuruvati at Ramakkalmedu in Kerala hamlet]] in Kerala Kerala is situated on the lush and tropical Malabar Coast. Kerala is one of the popular tourist destinations in India. Its culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. National Geographic's Traveller magazine names Kerala as one of the "ten paradises of the world"[194] and "50 must see destinations of a lifetime".[195] Travel and Leisure names Kerala as "One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century".[194][196][197] Kerala's beaches, backwaters, mountain ranges and wildlife sanctuaries are the major attractions for both domestic and international tourists. The city of Kochi ranks first in the total number of international and domestic tourists in Kerala.[198][199]

Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination.[200] But 1986 the government of Kerala declared tourism as an industry and it was the first state in India to do so.[201] 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.[202] In the decades that followed, Kerala's tourism industry was able to transform the state into one of the niche holiday destinations in India. Many innovative marketing strategies were used and the advertisements branded Kerala with a catchy tagline Kerala- God's Own Country.[202] Today, Kerala tourism is a global brand and regarded as one of the destinations with highest recall.[202] 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.[203] In 2011, tourist inflow to Kerala crossed the 10-million mark.[204]

Kerala has also pioneered health and medical tourism in India and has attained international attention in this segment. Though the idea of health tourism in Kerala is heavily concentrated on Ayurveda, it is also a good destination for other forms of treatment including Allopathy and Homeopathy.[205] Ayurvedic tourism became very popular since 1990s and private agencies like Kottakkal Arya Vydyasala played a notable role in tandem with the initiatives of Tourism Department.[200] Kerala is known for its ecotourism initiatives and in this segment it promotes mountaineering, trekking and bird-watching programmes in the Western Ghats as the major products.[206]

The state's tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy which is currently growing at a rate of 13.31%.[207] The revenue from tourism increased 5 fold between 2001 2011 and crossed 190 billion mark in 2011. Moreover, the industry provides employment opportunity to 1.2 million people.[204]

The most popular tourist attractions in the state are beaches, backwaters and hill stations. Major beaches are at Kovalam, Varkala, Kappad, Muzhappilangad and Bekal. Popular hill stations are at Munnar, Wayanad, Wagamon, Peermade, Nelliampathi and Ponmudi.[208] Kerala's ecotourism destinations include 12 wildlife sanctuaries and two national parks; Periyar Tiger Reserve, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, and Eravikulam National Park are the most popular among them.[209] The "backwaters" is an extensive network of interlocking rivers (41 west-flowing rivers), lakes, and canals that center around Alleppey, Kumarakom, Kollam and Punnamada (where the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in August). Cities such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode are popular centres for their shopping and traditional theatrical performances.

Kerala is also a center of Heritage and religious tourism sites. Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Mattancherry Palace are two notable heritage sites. The state is also famous for the large number of festivals (about 10,000 per year) it celebrates; of these, Onam and Thrissur Pooram attracts a large inflow of foreign tourists. According to a survey conducted among foreign tourists, Elephants, fireworks display and huge crowd are the major attractions of Thrissur Pooram.[210] The main pilgrim tourist spots of Kerala are Sabarimala Temple, Aranmula Temple, Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Guruvayoor Temple, Chettikulangara Temple, Vadakumnathan Temple, Sarkara Devi Temple, Padanilam Parabrahma Temple, Beemapally mosque, Malayattoor Saint Thomas Church, Parumala Church (Pathanamthitta) and St. Francis Church, Kochi[211] Saint Alphonsa Church, Bharananganam is also a destination of pilgrimage tourism.


File:Aranmula Temple.JPG|Temple at Aranmula (Pathanamthitta) File:Mountain Pass Wayanad.jpg|Wayanad Mountain pass(Ghat) day time File:Wayanad Churam - Night View.jpg |Wayanad Mountain pass(Ghat) night view Image:Thiruvathira Kali During Onam.jpg|Thiruvathira kali: a dance performed by women in Kerala during Onam and Thiruvaathira festivals. Image:Onappottan.jpg|Onappottan, a cultural image of Kerala, related to Onam. File:Oppana.jpg|Oppana, a dance form among the Muslim community in Kerala File:MaramonConvention 2009.JPG|Maramon Convention: Asia's biggest Christian gathering File:Sulthan Bathery Ricefarm2.jpg|Paddy fields of Kerala in Sultan Bathery File:A typical houseboat in the Kerala backwaters near Alleppey.jpg|A house boat on the backwaters near Alleppey in Kerala File:Resort calicut kerala.jpg|Resorts dot the length and breadth of Kerala. File:Munnar hillstation kerala.jpg|Munnar in Idukki district File:Sunset at Varkala Beach Kerala India.jpg|Sunset at Varkala Beach File:Kalaripayattu.JPG|Kalaripayattu a martial art of Kerala File:Back water sulthan bathery.jpg |Forest river in Wayanad File:ThrissurPooram-Kuda.jpg |Thrissur Pooram festival

See also


The International Hydrographic Organisation defines the border between Lakshadweep Sea and Arabian sea by a line running from Sadashivgad Lt. on West Coast of India () to Corah Divh () and thence down the West side of the Lakshadweep and Maldive Archipelagos to the most Southerly point of Addu Atoll in the Maldives.[212] However, the official website of Government of Kerala and Government of India states that Kerala is boardered on the west by Arabian Sea.



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