, ē ḷam) 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 38,863 km2 (15,005 sq mi) and is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Arabian Sea[note] on the west. The width of the state varies from 11km to 121km. The city of Thiruvananthapuram is the state capital. Kollam, Kottayam, Kochi, Thrissur, Palakkad and Kozhikode, are other major cities. According to a survey by The Economic Times, five out of ten best cities to live in India are located in Kerala. Kerala is a popular tourist destination for its backwaters, yoga, Ayurvedic treatments and tropical greenery. Kerala has the highest Human Development Index in India, slightly higher than that of most developed countries, but with a much lower per capita income. The state has the highest literacy rate in India with 99 percent. It hopes to be the first e-literate state in India through the state run Akshaya project. The state recently became and is currently the only one to have banking facilities in every village. 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 during the Kerala Gulf boom and is heavily dependent on remittances from its large Malayali expatriate community. Etymology Kerala is often referred to as Keralam by the natives (Malayalis). Scholars agree that Kerala transliterates Classical Tamil Cheralam ("Land of the Cheras") or chera-alam, ("declivity of a hill or a mountain slope/range"). The state was anciently called Cheralam and Cherala Nadu. A 3rd-century BCE rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great references Kerala as Keralaputra. The Graeco-Roman trade map Periplus Maris Erythraei references Kerala's Chera territory as Cerobothra. Another popular view is that 'Keralam' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Kera' which means coconut and the Dravidian word 'Alam' which means place or land, as Kerala is and has been famous for the coconut trees it grows.  History Main article: History of Kerala  Prehistory A dolmen erected by Neolithic people in Marayur. Main article: Pre-history of Kerala 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). Rock-engravings in the Edakkal Caves (in Wayanad) are thought to date from the early to Late Neolithic eras around 5000 B.C. 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.  Early history and culture Kerala was a major spice exporter as early as 3,000 BCE, according to Sumerian Records.  Early Chera rule and maritime trade The word "Kerala" is first mentioned (as "Keralaputra") in a third century BCE rock inscription (Rock Edict 2) left by the Maurya emperor Asoka.Kerala and Tamil Nadu once shared a common language and culture, within an area known as Tamiḻakam. In the 1st century BCE, Tamil-speaking Dravidians established the Chera Dynasty that ruled northern Kerala and western Tamil Nadu 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")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; contemporary Sangam literature describes Roman ships coming to Muziris in Kerala, laden with gold to exchange for pepper. 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. The Chera kings' dependence on trade meant that merchants from West Asia and Southern Europe established coastal posts and settlements in Kerala.:192–195, 303– 307 The west Asian-semitic  Jewish, Christian, and Muslim immigrants established Juda Mappila, Nasrani Mappila, and Muslim Mappila communities respectively. The Jews first arrived in Kerala in 573 BC. According to local Syriac Nasrani Christian tradition as well as the works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings, Thomas the Apostle visited Muziris in Kerala circa 52 CE to proselytize amongst Kerala's Jewish settlements. The first mosque, synagogue, and church in India were built in Kerala.  Later Chera rule Much of history of the region from the 6th to the 8th century is obscure, 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. A Keralite identity, distinct from the Tamils, became linguistically separate during this period.  Post-Chera period The Kulasekhara dynasty came to an end by twelfth century, weakened by the invasions and military subjugations of Rashtrakutas, Later Pandyas, and Later Cholas. 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.  The 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. 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. Dutch commander 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 this accord Dutch conceded not to attack Travancore. This agreement was signed at Mavelikara. So this treaty is known as 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 Oct 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. A nineteenth-century map of Madras Province in British India. After independence, Kerala was formed by merging Malabar, 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. 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 (see Zamindari system) and the British Raj.  Post Independence 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. 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.This was also the first democratically elected Communist government in the world, which initiated pioneering land reforms, leading to lowest levels of rural poverty in India.  Kerala in religious traditions The oldest of the surviving Hindu Puranas, the Matsya Purana, sets the story of the first of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the Matsya Avatar, and King Manu (King Satyavrata, mankind's ancestor), among Kerala's Malaya Mountains. The earliest Sanskrit text to mention Kerala by name is the Aitareya Aranyaka. The legendary king Mahabali is said to have ruled from Kerala in a reign of universal happiness and prosperity. On his passing away he was appointed ruler of the netherworld (Patalam) by Vamana, the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu. There is a belief that, Once a year, during the Onam festival, he returns to Kerala. Parasurama, surrounded by settlers, commanding Varuna to part the seas and reveal Kerala. In the religious texts known as the Puranas, Kerala is Parasurama Kshetram ("The Land of Parasurama"). Parasurama was a warrior sage and an Avatar of Mahavishnu. When he threw his battle axe from Gokarna into the sea at Kanyakumari, the land of Kerala arose from the waters. Tradition says that Parasurama minted gold coins called Rasi, sowed some of them in Travancore and buried the surplus in cairns. Similar legends link Parasurama to the Pandyan dynasty. The Kollam Era of the Malayalam calendar is also known as "Parasurama-Sacam". The Travancore Rajas claim descent from Chera King Bhanu Bikram, who was raised to the throne, by Parasurama. In the Keralolpatti, Parasurama chose the goddess Durga (Kali) as guardian of Kerala's sea-shore.  Geography Main article: Geography of Kerala See also: Climate of India 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', Kerala experiences the humid equatorial tropic climate. The state has a coast of length 590 km (370 mi) 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. Pre-Cambrian d P st c g gc t sc s t bu k ’s t . Anamudi from Eravikulam National Park The eastern Kerala region consists of high mountains, gorges and deep-cut valleys immediately west of the Western Ghats' rain shadow. Forty- ’s w st-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. 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. ’s w st c st b t s tv t, d s c ss-crossed by a network of interconnected brackish canals, lakes, estuaries, and rivers known as the Kerala B ckw t s. L k V b d, ’s g st b d w t ,d t s t B ckw t s; it lies between Alappuzha and Kochi and is more than 200 km2 (77 sq mi) in area. Around 8% of India's waterways (measured by length) are found in Kerala. The most t t ’s t -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. 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. 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.  Climate 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.:80 In eastern Kerala, a drier tropical wet and dry climate prevails. 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. During summer, Kerala is prone to gale force winds, storm surges, cyclone-related torrential downpours, occasional droughts, and rises in sea level.:26, 46, 52 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.:65  Flora and fauna Main article: Flora and fauna of Kerala Malamuzhakky Vezhambal or Great Indian Hornbill, The state bird of Kerala Haliastur indus commonly known as Krishnapparunthu in Kerala A blue tiger (Tirumala limniace) butterfly in Chalakudy Population density map of Kerala graded from darkest shading (most dense) to lightest (least dense) The Kerala Legislative Assembly Building in Thiruvananthapuram Much of Kerala's notable biodiversity is concentrated and protected in the Western Ghats. 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 medicinal plants.:11 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 st d. 12 Tw t w d’s R s C v t st d w t ds—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,:6–7 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). These are threatened by extensive habitat destruction, including soil erosion, landslides, salinization, and resource extraction. E st ’s w dw d u t ss t t c st sts d t c d 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).:12 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.:12, 174–175 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.:163–165 Cassia Fistula, (Malayalam: , Kani Konna), is the state flower of Kerala.  Subdivisions Main articles: Districts of Kerala and Corporations, municipalities and taluks of Kerala 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). Kerala's modern-day districts (listed in order from north to south) correspond to them as follows: Note that these subdivisions are historical and unofficial, that there was no official subdivisions such as South Malabar-North Malabar, or South-Central-North Travancore North Malabar: Kasaragod, Kannur, Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad, Koyilandy and Vadakara Taluks of Kozhikode South Malabar: Wayanad except Mananthavady Taluk, Kozhikode except Vadakara and Koyilandy Taluks, Malappuram, Palakkad District except Chittur and Alathur Taluks and a part of Thrissur Kochi: A part of Ernakulam, Chittur Taluk and Alathur Taluks of Palakkad, and a majority part of Thrissur. Northern Travancore: Part of Ernakulam, and Idukki. Central Travancore: Southern part of Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and northern part of Kollam. Southern Travancore: Southern part of Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram. Nanchinad in Kanyakumari, which is now in the state of Tamil Nadu, was also part of southern Travancore before formation of Kerala. 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 and 1007 Gram panchayats. Mahé, a part of the Indian union territory of Pondicherry (Puducherry), is a coastal exclave surrounded by Kerala on all of its landward approaches. State symbols of KeralaLanguage Malayalam AnimalElephant Bird Great Indian Hornbill Fish Pearl spot (karimeen) Flower Cassia Fistula (Indian laburnum) Fruit Jackfruit Tree Coconut Costume Mundum Neriyathum (women) Mundu (men)  Government Main article: Government of Kerala Kerala's Government is based on rules and regulations determined by the Government of India. The State is governed via a parliamentary system of representative democracy; universal suffrage is granted to state residents. There are three branches of government.[clarification needed] 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. 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. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs. The judiciary consists of the Kerala High Court and a system of lower courts. The High Court, located at Ernakulam, has a Chief Justice combined with 26 permanent and two additional (pro tempore) justices. Kerala High Court also hears cases from the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. 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. 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.  Economy The interior of a building at Technopark.Thiruvananthapuram . Technopark accounts for nearly 70% of the state's IT exports. Main article: Economy of Kerala See also: :Category:Industries based 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 162,414.79 crore (US$32.48 billion). 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%:8 and 5.99% in the 1990s).:8 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. Kerala's Human Development Index rating is the highest in India. 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.:48:1 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. 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, which is more than 15.13% of Remittance to India in 2008, the highest among Indian States. Rural women processing coir threads Cardomom plant 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:5 of rice (Kerala's most important staple food and cereal crop):5 are harvested from 3105.21 km² (a decline from 5883.4 km² in 1990):5 of paddy fields; 688,859 tonnes are produced per annum. Other key crops include coconut (899,198 ha), tea, coffee (23% of Indian production,:13 or 57,000 tonnes:6–7), 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. 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. On 1 October 2011, Kerala became the first state in the country to have banking facility in every village. Unemployment in 2007 was estimated at 9.4%; underemployment, low employability of youths, and a 13.5% female participation rate are chronic issues,:5, 13 as is the practice of Nokku kooli, 'wages for looking on'. By 1999–2000, the rural and urban poverty rates dropped to 10.0% and 9.6% respectively. 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.  Transport State Water Transport Department is the main agency providing inland water transport facilities to the people residing in the water logged areas.  Roads Main article: Roads in Kerala Kerala has 145,704 kilometres (90,536 mi) of roads (4.2% of India's total). This translates to about 4.62 kilometres (2.87 mi) of road per thousand population, compared to an all India average of 2.59 kilometres (1.61 mi). 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. 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 Panavel (near Mumbai) 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. 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. 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.   Railways The main Portico of the Trivandrum Central Railway Station 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. 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. Trivandrum 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, Shornur Junction, Palakkad Junction, Thrissur, Ernakulam Junction, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Chengannur, Kayamkulam Junction, Kollam Junction and Thiruvananthapuram Central.  Airports Cochin International Airport (CIAL) Kerala has three major international airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. A fourth international airport is proposed at Kannur. Thiruvananthapuram's 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.  Inland water transport in Kerala Kerala, with numerous backwaters, is one of the 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 41 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 in the State 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.  Demographics See also: Religions of Kerala and List of most populous urban agglomerations in Kerala Main article: Demographics of Kerala The 31.8 million 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.:10–12 Malayalam is Kerala's official language; Konkani, Tamil, Tulu, Kannada, Hindi and various Adivasi (Tribal) languages are also spoken by ethnic minorities especially in the south-western region.[show] Population trend 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. 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. A fisherman in rural Kerala Females comprise 51.42% of the population; males form the remaining 48.58% of the population.:26 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. Even though Hindus enjoy an absolute majority in Kerala, Hindus hardly control 25% of the state's economy. 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. The major Hindu castes are Ezhavas, Nairs, Nambudiri and Dalits. Notably, steps taken by many progressive and tolerant Hindu kings over the years and movements like that of Vaikunda Swami  and Narayana Guru 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 centre. Islam and Judaism arrived in Kerala through Arab traders. Muslims of Kerala, known as Moplahs, mostly follow the Shafi'i Madh'hab under Sunni Islam. The major Moplah denominations are Sunni, Mujahid and Jama'at. A significant Jewish community existed in Kerala until the 20th century when most of them migrated to Israel leaving only a handful of families. 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 The major Christian denominations are Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Protestant.Religion in Kerala Religion Percent Hinduism 56.2% Islam 24.7% Christianity 19.0% Others 1.1% 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. 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 government states gender relations are among the most equitable in India[Need quotation to verify], despite discrepancies among low caste men and women.:1 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. 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 (94.59%) among Indian states and life expectancy (74 years) was among the highest in India in 2011. 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.:48[show] List of Major cities in Kerala 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 For example, more than 95% of Keralite births are hospital- delivered.:6 Aside from ayurveda (both elite and popular forms),:13 siddha, and many endangered and endemic modes of traditional medicine, including kalari, marmachikitsa and vishavaidyam, are practiced. These propagate via gurukula discipleship,:5–6 and comprise a fusion of both medicinal and supernatural treatments,:15 and are partly responsible for drawing increasing numbers of medical tourists. 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 in the developing world to have undergone the "demographic transition" characteristic of such developed nations as Canada, Japan, and Norway.:1 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.:2 sub-replacement fertility level and infant mortality rate is lower compared to other states (estimated at 12:49 to 14:5 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.:5Yet 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. 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.:5–7  Education Main article: Education in Kerala Hardware training for students given by "IT@SCHOOL" project The University of Kerala's administrative building in Thiruvananthapuram. Kerala has highest literacy among the states of India. State topped the Education Development Index (EDI) among 21 major states in India in year 2006–2007. More than 94% of the rural population has access to primary school within 1 km, while 98% of population benefits one school within a distance of 2 km. An upper primary school within a distance of 3 km is available for more than 96% of the people, whose 98% benefit the facility for secondary education within 8 km. The access for rural students to higher educational institutions in cities is facilitated by widely subsidised transport fares. Kerala's educational system has been developed by institutions owned or aided by the government.In the educational system prevailed in the state schooling is for 10 years which is subdivided into lower primary, upper primary and high school, 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. Upon completing the required coursework, students can enroll in general or professional under graduate 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. 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. 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 India 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. 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. 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. A widespread Arabic educational system has also become a channel for employment in the Middle East in modern times. Originating in 8th century madrasahs for primary children, Islamic and Arabic schooling was patronized and funded by the British colonial government. Today, the system of Islamic and Arabic primary education has grown and further integrated with government administration. In 2005, an estimated 6,000 Muslim Arabic teachers taught in Kerala government schools, with over 500,000 Muslim students. 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 A Kathakali artist During Onam, Kerala's biggest celebration, Keralites create pookkalam (floral carpet) designs in front of their houses. Keralite elephants, caparisoned, during the Sree Poornathrayesa Temple festival. A mohiniaattam performance The annual snake boat race is performed during Onam Celebrations on the Pamba River Main articles: Arts of Kerala and Culture of Kerala Kerala's culture is derived from both a Tamil-heritage region known as Tamilakam and southern coastal Karnataka. 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 UNESCO 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 Malabar special), koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam ("dance of the enchantress"), Theyyam, thullal NS padayani. Kathakali and Mohiniattam are widely recognized Indian Classical Dance traditions from Kerala. Other forms of art are more religious or tribal in nature. These include chavittu nadakom and oppana which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations. Margam Kali is a traditional group dance form traceable back to 17th century, originally performed during Syrian Christian festivals. However, many of these art forms are largely performed for tourists or at youth festivals, and are not as popular among most Keralites. Contemporary art and performance styles including those employing mimicry and parody are more popular. Kerala's music also has ancient[weasel words] 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. Kolla Varsham or Malayalam Era, which is assumed to have been established by King Udaya Marthanda Varma in 825 CE, serves as the official calendar of Kerala. The Malayalam calendar is used to plan agricultural and religious activities. Kerala's most popular dish is Rice and curry. The sadhya (feast) is traditionally served on green banana leaves. Such dishes as idli, payasam, pulisherry, puttukadala, or PuttuPayarPappadam, 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, North Indian dresses such as Salwar kameez are also popular among women in Kerala. Elephants are an integral part of daily life in Kerala. Indian elephants are loved, revered, groomed and given a prestigious place in the state's culture. They are often referred to as[by whom?] the 'sons of the sahya.' Elephant is the state animal of Kerala and is featured on the emblem of the Government of 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 The God of Small Things is set in the Kottayam town of Ayemenem, have gained international recognition. Malayalam cinema carved a niche for itself in the Indian film industry[attribution needed]. It has been producing both parallel and mainstream cinema of great acclaim[peacock term] for years. Directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, John Abraham, G. Aravindan have been some of the great[peacock term] names in the Indian parallel cinema. Kerala has also given birth to numerous acclaimed[peacock term] actors such as Bharath Gopi, Prem Nazir, Mammotty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Murali, Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Cochin Haneefa, Thilakan and Nedumudi Venu  Media Main article: Media in Kerala 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, but principally Malayalam and English. The most widely circulating Malayalam-language newspapers are Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, Madhyamam, Mangalam, Chandrika, Deepika, Kerala Kaumudi and Deshabhimani. 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. The major Malayalam television channels are Asianet, Surya TV, Asianet Cable Vision(ACV), Mazhavil Manorama, Indiavision, Kairali TV, Manorama News, Amrita TV, Reporter, Jaihind,and Jeevan TV. 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. Regardless, Keralites maintain high rates[quantify] 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.:2 BSNL, Reliance Infocomm, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Tata Docomo and Aircel are some of the major cell phone providers in the state. Broadband internet services are widely available throughout the state; some of the major ISPs are BSNL, Asianet Satellite communications, Reliance Communications, Airtel and VSNL. Malayalam films are known for their realistic portrayal of characters and being socially oriented[examples needed] without giving a lot of importance to glitz and glamour[further explanation needed]. 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. Since 1980s, actorsMammootty and Mohanlal have dominated the movie industry; They have won several[quantify] National and State awards and are considered among the greatest actors[by whom?] in India.  Sports Main article: Sports in Kerala The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi is one of the largest multi-use stadiums in India Several ancient ritualised arts are Keralite in origin. These include kalaripayattu—kalari ("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. Kochi Tuskers Kerala is the franchise cricket team that plays in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Two Kerala Ranji Trophy players gained test selection in recent years. Sreesanth has represented India since 2005. Among other Keralite cricketers is Tinu Yohannan, son of Olympic long jumper T. C. Yohannan. 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 was a notable Indian volleyball player, rated in his prime as among the world's ten best players.  Tourism Main article: Tourism in Kerala Kovalam beach, Trivandrum Kerala is situated on the lush and tropical Malabar Coast. Kerala is one of the popular tourist destinations in India. Its unique[peacock term] 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" and "50 must see destinations of a lifetime". Travel and Leisure names Kerala as "One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century". Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination; except for Kovalam, which was in the Hippie circuit and was a major destination of Hippies. 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[peacock term] 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. The state's tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy which is currently growing at a rate of 13.31%. Kerala is known for its ecotourism initiatives. Kerala was the first state in India to make tourism an industry. The most popular tourist attractions in the state are beaches, backwaters and hill stations. These include the beaches at Kovalam, Varkala, Kappad, Muzhappilangad and Bekal; the hill stations of Munnar, Wayanad, Wagamon, Peermade, Nelliampathi and Ponmudi; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary and Eravikulam National Park. The "backwaters" is an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes, and canals that center around Alleppey, Kumarakom, Kollam and Punnamada (where the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in August). Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Mattancherry Palace, are also visited. Cities such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode are popular centres for their shopping and traditional theatrical performances respectively. 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, Padmanabhaswamy Temple (Thiruvananthapuram), Guruvayoor Temple, Chettikulangara Temple, Vadakumnathan Temple (Thrissur), Sarkara Devi Temple, Padanilam Parabrahma Temple(Oachira), Beemapally mosque, Malayattor Church and Parumala Church.