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God’s Own Country
Population • Density Literacy Language(s) Time zone Area ISO 3166-2
31,948,619 (12th) (2001)
• 819 /km2 (2,121 /sq mi) 91% Malayalam IST (UTC+5:30)
38,863 km² (15,005 sq mi)
Portal: Kerala Footnotes
‡ 140 elected, 1 nominated
A scene from Kerala
Coordinates: 8°28′N 76°57′E / 08.47°N 76.95°E / 08.47; 76.95 Kerala (Malayalam: ??????; Kēraḷaṁ) is a state located in southwestern India. Neighbouring states include Karnataka to the north and Tamil Nadu to the south and east; to the west is the Arabian Sea. Besides the state capital Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), the other major cities in Kerala are Kochi (Cochin), Kozhikode (Calicut), Kannur (Cannanore), Thrissur, and Kollam. The principal spoken language is Malayalam. A 3rd-century-BC rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great attests to a Keralaputra. Around 1 BC the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty, which traded with the Greeks, Romans, and Arabs. In the 1st century AD Jewish immigrants arrived, and it is believed that St. Thomas the Apostle visited Kerala in the same century. Feudal Namboothiri Brahmin and Nair city-states subsequently gained control of the region. Early contact with Europeans gave way to struggles between colonial and native interests. On 1 November 1956 the States Reorganisation Act elevated Kerala to statehood. The state is known for achievements such as near 100% literacy rate, among the highest in India. A survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in the country. Kerala is uniquely dependent on remittances from a large Malayali expatriate community based mainly in Persian Gulf countries.
Location of Kerala in India
Country Region District(s) Established Capital Largest city Governor Chief Minister Legislature (seats)
India South India 14 1 November 1956 Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) Thiruvananthapuram R.S. Gavai V.S. Achuthanandan Unicameral (141‡)
The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. Keralam may stem from the Classical Tamil chera-alam ("declivity of a hill or a mountain slope") or chera alam ("Land of
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the Cheras").:2 Kerala may represent an imperfect Malayalam portmanteau fusing kera ("coconut palm tree") and alam ("land" or "location").:122 Natives of Kerala, known as Malayalis or Keralites, refer to their land as Keralam. A 3rd-century-BC Asokan rock inscription mentioning a state or people called "Keralaputra" is the earliest surviving attestation to the name Kerala. In written records, Kerala was mentioned in the Sanskrit epic Aitareya Aranyaka. Additionally, Katyayana, Patanjali, Pliny the Elder, and the unknown author of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea displayed familiarity with Kerala. In the last centuries BC, the region became famous among the Greeks and Romans for its spices, particularly black pepper.
Parasurama, surrounded by settlers, commanding Varuna to part the seas and reveal Kerala. the second Chera empire, became linguistically separate under the Kulasekhara dynasty (c. 800–1102). By the beginning of the 14th century, Ravi Varma Kulasekhara of Venad established a short-lived supremacy over southern India. After his death, Kerala became a conglomeration of warring chieftaincies, among which the most important were Calicut in the north and Venad in the south. 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 Nasrani Mappila, Juda Mappila and Muslim Mappila communities. The Jews first arrived in Kerala in 573 BC. The works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings state that Thomas the Apostle visited Muziris in Kerala in 52 AD to proselytize amongst Kerala’s Jewish settlements. However, the first verifiable migration of Jewish-Nasrani families to Kerala is of the arrival of Knanai Thoma in 345 AD . Muslim merchants (Malik ibn Dinar) settled in Kerala by the 8th century AD and introduced Islam. After Vasco Da Gama’s arrival in 1498, the Portuguese gained control of the lucrative pepper trade by subduing Keralite communities and commerce. Conflicts between Kozhikode and Kochi provided an opportunity for the Dutch to oust the Portuguese. In turn, the Dutch were ousted by Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family who routed them at the Battle of Colachel in 1741. In 1766, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore invaded northern Kerala, capturing Kozhikode in the process. In the late 18th century, Tipu Sultan, Ali’s son and successor, launched campaigns against the expanding British East India Company; these resulted in two of the four Anglo-Mysore Wars. He ultimately ceded Malabar District and South Kanara to the Company in the 1790s. The Company then forged tributary alliances
A Muniyara, dolmens erected by Neolithic tribesmen, in Marayoor. It is not certain if the region was inhabited during Neolithic times. However, there is evidence of the emergence of prehistoric pottery and granite burial monuments in the form of megalithic tombs in the 10th century BC; they resemble their counterparts in Western Europe and other parts of Asia. These are thought to be produced by speakers of a proto-Tamil language. Kerala and Tamil Nadu once shared a common language, ethnicity and culture; this common area was known as Tamilakam. According to legend, Kerala was an Asura-ruled kingdom under Mahabali. Onam, the state-wide festival of Kerala, is dedicated to Maveli’s memory. Another legend has Parasurama, an avatar of Mahavishnu, throwing his battle axe into the sea; from those waters, Kerala arose. The ancient Cheras, whose mother tongue and court language was ancient Tamil, ruled Kerala from their capital at Vanchi. They were constantly at war with the neighbouring Chola and Pandya kingdoms. A Keralite identity, distinct from the Tamils and associated with
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Kerala saw comparatively little defiance of the British Raj. Nevertheless, several rebellions occurred, including the 1946 Punnapra-Vayalar revolt, and leaders like Velayudan Thampi Dalava, Kunjali Marakkar, and Pazhassi Raja earned their place in history and folklore. Many actions, spurred by such leaders as Vaikunda Swami, Sree Narayana Guru and Chattampi Swamikal, instead protested such conditions as untouchability; notable was the 1924 Vaikom Satyagraham. In 1936, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma of Travancore issued the Temple Entry Proclamation that opened Hindu temples to all castes; Cochin and Malabar soon did likewise. The 1921 Moplah Rebellion involved Mappila Muslims rioting against the British Raj. After India gained its independence in 1947, Travancore and Cochin were merged to form Travancore-Cochin on 1 July 1949. On 1 January 1950 (Republic Day), Travancore-Cochin was recognised as a state. The Madras Presidency was organised to form Madras State several years prior, in 1947. Finally, the Government of India’s 1 November 1956 States Reorganisation Act inaugurated the state of Kerala, incorporating Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks, which were merged with Tamil Nadu), and the taluk of Kasargod, South Canara. A new legislative assembly was also created, for which elections were first held in 1957. These resulted in a communist-led government through ballot—the world’s first of its kind—headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad. Subsequent social reforms favoured tenants and labourers.:22–23, 43–44
Vasco da Gama lands at Calicut (now Kozhikode), May 20, 1498. with Kochi (1791) and Travancore (1795). Malabar and South Kanara became part of the Madras Presidency.
Vembanad Lake Pazhassi Raja, the "Lion of Kerala", who waged a guerrilla war against the British in the late 18th century. Kerala is wedged between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. Lying between north latitudes 8°18’ and
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12°48’ and east longitudes 74°52’ and 72°22’, Kerala is well within the humid equatorial tropics. Kerala’s coast runs for some 580 km (360 miles), while the state itself varies between 35 and 120 km (22–75 miles) in width. Geographically, Kerala can be divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands (rugged and cool mountainous terrain), the central midlands (rolling hills), and the western lowlands (coastal plains). Located at the extreme southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, Kerala lies near the centre of the Indian tectonic plate; as such, most of the state is subject to comparatively little seismic and volcanic activity. PreCambrian and Pleistocene geological formations compose the bulk of Kerala’s terrain.
portions of the Nilgiri and Palni Hills include such formations as Agastyamalai and Anamalai. 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 200 km² in area. Around 8% of India’s waterways (measured by length) are found in Kerala. The most important of Kerala’s forty four rivers include the Periyar (244 km), the Bharathapuzha (209 km), the Pamba (176 km), the Chaliyar (169 km), the Kadalundipuzha (130 km), the Valapattanam (129 km) and the Achankovil (128 km). The average length of the rivers of Kerala is 64 km. Most of the remainder are small and entirely fed by monsoon rains. These conditions result in the nearly yearround water logging of such western regions as Kuttanad, 500 km² of which lies below sea level. As Kerala’s rivers are small and lack deltas, they are more prone to environmental factors. Kerala’s rivers face many problems, including summer droughts, the building of large dams, sand mining, and pollution.
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 annually. Some of Kerala’s drier lowland regions average only 1,250 mm; the mountains of eastern Idukki district receive more than 5,000 mm of orographic precipitation, the highest in the state. In summers, most of Kerala is prone to gale force winds, storm surges, cyclone-related torrential downpours, occasional droughts, and rises in sea level and storm activity resulting from global warming.:26, 46, 52 Daily average high 36.7 °C; low 19.8 °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
Topographic map of Kerala. Eastern Kerala consists of high mountains, gorges and deep-cut valleys immediately west of the Western Ghats’ rain shadow. Forty one of Kerala’s west-flowing rivers, and three of its east-flowing ones originate in this region. The Western Ghats form a wall of mountains interrupted only near Palakkad, where the Palakkad Gap breaks through to provide access to the rest of India. The Western Ghats rises on average to 1,500 m (4920 ft) above sea level, while the highest peaks may reach to 2,500 m (8200 ft). Just west of the mountains lie the midland plains comprising central Kerala, dominated by rolling hills and valleys. Generally ranging between elevations of 250–1,000 m (820–3300 ft), the eastern
Flora and fauna
Much of Kerala’s notable biodiversity is concentrated and protected in the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve in the eastern hills. Almost a fourth of India’s 10,000 plant species are found in the state. Among the almost 4,000 flowering plant species (1,272 of which are endemic to Kerala and 159 threatened) are 900 species of highly sought medicinal 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,
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A blue tiger (Tirumala limniace) butterfly
The Tiger inhabits Kerala’s eastern forests. species of mammals (56 of which are endemic), 476 species of birds, 202 species of freshwater fishes, 169 species of reptiles (139 of them endemic), and 89 species of amphibians (86 endemic). These are threatened by extensive habitat destruction, including soil erosion, landslides, salinization, and resource extraction. Eastern Kerala’s windward mountains shelter tropical moist forests and tropical dry forests, which are common in the Western Ghats. Here, sonokeling (Dalbergia latifolia), anjili, mullumurikku (Erythrina), and Cassia number among the more than 1,000 species of trees in Kerala. Other plants include bamboo, wild black pepper, wild cardamom, the calamus rattan palm (a type of climbing palm), and aromatic vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides).: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—Peafowl, the Great Hornbill, Indian Grey Hornbill, Indian Cormorant, and Jungle Myna are several emblematic species. In lakes, wetlands, and waterways, fish such as kadu (stinging catfish and Choottachi (Orange chromide—Etroplus maculatus; valued as an aquarium specimen) are found.:163–165
A Bonnet Macaque in Nelliampathi. respectively), and montane subtropical and temperate (shola) forests (highest elevations—100 km²). Altogether, 24% of Kerala is forested.:12 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,: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
Kerala’s fourteen districts are distributed among Kerala’s three historical regions: Malabar (northern Kerala), Kochi (central Kerala), and Travancore (southern Kerala). Kerala’s modern-day districts (listed in order from north to south) correspond to them as follows:
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• : Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad • : Thrissur, Ernakulam • : Kottayam, Idukki, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram Kerala comprises the regions of North Malabar (Thulunadu, Kolathunadu, Kadathanadu & Wayanadu), South Malabar (Kozhikode, Eranadu, Valluvanadu & Palakkadu), Central Travancore, Travancore and Venad. Kerala’s 14 revenue districts are subdivided into 62 taluks, 1453 revenue villages and 1007 Gram panchayats. Mahé, a part of the Indian union territory of Puducherry (Pondicherry), is a coastal exclave surrounded by Kerala on all of its landward approaches. Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) is the state capital and most populous city. Kochi is the most populous urban agglomeration and the major port city in Kerala. Kozhikode, Thrissur, and Kannur are the other major commercial centers of the state. The High Court of Kerala is located at Ernakulam. Kerala’s districts, which serve as the administrative regions for taxation purposes, are further subdivided into 63 taluks; these have fiscal and administrative powers over settlements within their borders, including maintenance of local land records.
The Kerala High Court in Ernakulam. bearers (the Speaker and Deputy Speaker) elected by the members from among themselves. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker and in his absence by the Deputy Speaker. Kerala has 140 Assembly constituencies. The state sends 20 members to the Lok Sabha and 9 to the Rajya Sabha, the Indian Parliament’s upper house. The Governor of Kerala is the constitutional head of state, and is appointed by the President of India. The executive authority is headed by the Chief Minister of Kerala, who is the de facto head of state and is vested with extensive executive powers; the Legislative Assembly’s majority party leader is appointed to this position by the Governor. The Council of Ministers, which answers to the Legislative Assembly, has its members appointed by the Governor on advice of the Chief Minister.
State symbols of Kerala Animal Bird Flower Tree Fruit Costume Elephant Great Indian Hornbill Cassia Fistula (Indian laburnum) Coconut Jackfruit Mundum Neriyathum(women), Mundu(men)
The Legislative Assembly Building in Trivandrum. The judiciary comprises the Kerala High Court (including a Chief Justice combined with 26 permanent and two additional (pro tempore) justices) and a system of lower courts. The High Court of Kerala is the apex court for the state; it also hears cases from the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs.
Kerala is governed via a parliamentary system of representative democracy; universal suffrage is granted to state residents. There are three branches of government. The unicameral legislature, the Kerala Legislative Assembly, comprises elected members and special office
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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 nontax 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.
In the Backwaters, waterways are key thoroughfares for merchants selling fish, rice, and other products. Pictured is a waterway bordering a farm. 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 the free market and foreign direct investment to be lightened, leading to economic expansion and job creation. In fiscal year 2004–2005, nominal gross state domestic product (GSDP) was Rs 89,451.99 crore (US$ 17.94 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.:49 Per-capita GSDP is Rs. 11,819 (US$ 237.09), above the Indian average and far below the world average.:8 Kerala’s Human Development Index rating is the highest in India. This apparently paradoxical "Kerala phenomenon" or "Kerala model of development" of high human and low economic development results from the strong service sector.:48:1 Kerala’s economy depends on emigrants working in foreign countries (mainly in the Gulf countries such as Dubai or Bahrain) and remittances annually contribute more than a fifth of GSDP. 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
A CPI(M) rally in Ernakulam. Kerala hosts two major political alliances: the United Democratic Front (UDF—led by the Indian National Congress)and the Left Democratic Front (LDF—led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)). At present, the LDF is the ruling coalition in government; V.S. Achuthanandan of the CPI(M) is the Chief Minister of Kerala and Oommen Chandy of the UDF is the Chief Opposition leader. Compared with most other Indians, Keralites are well versed and keen participants in the political process. Strikes, protests, rallies, and marches are ubiquitous. 
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and the remaining 1% follow other religions including Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Judaism. . Hinduism has undoubtedly shaped Kerala, and Kerala has in turn left its mark on Hinduism. Many influential saints and movements hail from Kerala. Notably, Narayana Guru’s movement for social reform and tolerance helped to establish Kerala as one of the most socially progressive states in India. The major Hindu castes are Kerala Brahmins, Nairs, Ezhavas, and Dalits. The Abrahamic religions attest to Kerala’s prominence as a major trade center. Judaism arrived in Kerala with spice traders, possibly as early as the 7th century BC. A significant Jewish community existed in Kerala until the 20th century when most emigrated to Israel leaving only a handful of families. In AD 52, Christianity reached the shores of Kerala with the arrival of St. Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. The major Christian denominations are Roman Catholic, Latin Catholic, Malankara Catholic, Jacobite, Malankara Orthodox, CSI (Church of South India), Marthoma and Pentecostal Churches. The general consensus among historians is that Islam arrived in Kerala through Arab traders either during the time of Prophet Muhammad himself (AD 609 - AD 632) or in the following few decades. In the 7th Century, the Zamorine of Kozhikode allowed these traders to settle and form a major community in Kozhikode, from where the religion gradually spread in the following centuries. Jainism, which arrived in Kerala around the 3rd century BC, has a considerable population of in the Wayanad district bordering the Karnataka state. Each of these religions have left a mark on Kerala with major sites of worship that draw numerous pilgrims. The major Hindu pilgrimage centers are located in Guruvayur, Sabarimala, Vadakkunnathan Temple, Oachira, Attukal, Mannarasala Temple, Ettumanoor, Parassinikkadavu Muthappan temple, Chottanikkara etc. Christians have prominent churches and shrines in Malayattoor, Arthungal, Bharananganam, Kuravilangad, Parumala, Manarcaud, Edathua, Edapally etc. Famous Muslim mosques are located at Ponnani, Pappinisseri, Koyilandi, Nadapuram, Kodungallur, Cherukunnu, Beemapally etc. Kerala Jews centered in the city of Kochi have the Cochin Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in India. Kerala’s various religious communities have lived together in relative peace and amicability.
Rural women processing coir threads. fishing villages are strung along the 590 km coast. Another 113 fishing villages dot the hinterland. Traditional industries manufacturing such items as coir, handlooms, and handicrafts employ around one million people. Around 180,000 small-scale industries employ around 909,859 Keralites; 511 medium and large scale manufacturing firms are located in Kerala. A small mining sector (0.3% of GSDP) involves extraction of ilmenite, kaolin, bauxite, silica, quartz, rutile, zircon, and sillimanite. Home gardens and animal husbandry also provide work for hundreds of thousands of people. Other major sectors are tourism, manufacturing, and business process outsourcing. As of March 2002, Kerala’s banking sector comprised 3341 local branches; each branch served 10,000 persons, lower than the national average of 16,000; the state has the third-highest bank penetration among Indian states. Unemployment in 2007 was estimated at 9.4%; underemployment, low employability of youths, and a 13.5% female participation rate are chronic issues.:5, 13 Poverty rate figures range from 12.71% to as high as 36%. More than 45,000 residents live in slum conditions.
Kerala is unique in India for its diverse mix of religions. According to Census of India figures, 56% of Kerala residents are Hindus, 24% are Muslims, 19% are Christians,
See also: Roads in Kerala Kerala has 145,704 kilometers (90,536 mi) of roads (4.2% of India’s total). This translates to about 4.62 kilometers (2.87 mi) of road per thousand population, compared to an all India average of 2.59 kilometers (1.61 mi). Virtually all of Kerala’s villages are connected by road. Traffic
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The backwaters traversing the state are an important mode of inland navigation.National Waterway 3 traverse through the state. The Indian Railways’ Southern Railway line runs throughout the state, connecting all major towns and cities except those in the highland districts of Idukki and Wayanad. Kerala’s major railway stations are Kasaragod, Kannur, Thalassery, Vadakara, Kozhikode, Tirur, Shoranur Junction, Palakkad Junction, Thrissur, Ernakulam Junction, Kottayam, Kollam Junction and Trivandrum Central.
A bridge on the Marine Drive walkway in Kochi.
The 31.8 million Keralites are predominantly of Malayali ethnicity, while the rest is mostly made up of Jewish and Arab elements in both culture and ancestry. Kerala’s 321,000 indigenous tribal Adivasis, 1.10% of the population, are concentrated in the east.:10–12 Malayalam is Kerala’s official language; Tamil, Kannada and various Adivasi (Tribal) languages are also spoken by ethnic minorities especially in the south-western region.
Trivandrum Central Railway Station. in Kerala has been growing at a rate of 10–11% every year, resulting in high traffic and pressure on the roads. Kerala’s road density is nearly four times the national average, reflecting the state’s high population density. Kerala’s annual total of road accidents is among the nation’s highest. India’s national highway network includes a Keralawide total of 1,524 kilometers (947 mi), which is 2.6% of the national total. There are eight designated national highways in the state. The Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP), which includes the GIS-based Road Information and Management Project (RIMS), is responsible for maintaining and expanding the 1,600 kilometers (994 mi) of roadways that compose the state highways system; it also oversees major district roads. Most of Kerala’s west coast is accessible through two national highways, NH 47, and NH 17. The state has three major international airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode, that link the state with the rest of the nation and the world. The Cochin International Airport (COK) was the first Indian airport incorporated as a public limited company and is funded by nearly 10,000 Non Resident Indians from 30 countries. A fourth international airport is proposed at Kannur.
Traditional dress of Kerala: a Malayali woman in a set-sari (tradition being wearing a mundum neriyathum) and a Malayalee man wearing a mundu with a shirt (tradition being not wearing a shirt). Kerala is home to 3.44% of India’s people; at 819 persons per km², its land is nearly three times as densely settled as the rest of India, which is at a population density of 325 persons per km². Kerala’s rate of population growth is India’s lowest, and Kerala’s decadal growth (9.42% in 2001) is less than half the all-India average of 21.34%. Whereas Kerala’s population more than doubled between 1951 and 1991 by adding 15.6 million people to reach 29.1 million residents in 1991, the
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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.
(89.9%) among Indian states and life expectancy (73 years) was among the highest in India in 2001. Kerala’s rural poverty rate fell from 69% (1970–1971) to 19% (1993–1994); the overall (urban and rural) rate fell 36% between the 1970s and 1980s. By 1999–2000, the rural and urban poverty rates dropped to 10.0% and 9.6% respectively. These changes stem largely from efforts begun in the late 19th century by the kingdoms of Cochin and Travancore to boost social welfare. This focus was maintained by Kerala’s post-independence government.:48
Kerala’s healthcare system has garnered international acclaim. The state has a very good medical facility. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization designated Kerala the world’s first "baby-friendly state" because of its effective promotion of breast-feeding over formulas. For example, more than 95% of Keralite births are hospital-delivered.:6 Aside from ayurveda (both elite and popular forms),:13 siddha, and unani, many endangered and endemic modes of traditional medicine, including kalari, marmachikitsa,:17 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 of the Third 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 The same is true of its sub-replacement fertility level and infant mortality rate (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.:5 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
Most Keralites, such as this fisherman, live in rural areas. Women compose 51.42% of the population.:26 Kerala’s principal religions are Hinduism (56.2%%), Islam (24.70%), and Christianity (19.00%). There has been also a growing number of atheists in the region due to the influence of theCommunist Party of India (Marxist) and the Kerala Yukthivadi Sangham(a part of the Indian Rationalist Association). There has even been an atheist/ rationalist magazine published in Malayalam called the Yukthivadi. Some notable atheists from Kerala include V. S. Achuthanandan, A.K. Antony, Sreeni Pattathanam, Abu Abraham, A. K. Gopalan, Mookencheril Cherian Joseph, Joseph Edamaruku, Sanal Edamaruku, and Abraham Kovoor. Atheists and other non-religious groups such as agnostics only make up 1% of the population in Kerala. Remnants of a once substantial Cochin Jewish population also practice Judaism. In comparison with the rest of India, Kerala experiences relatively little sectarianism. Kerala’s society is less patriarchal than the rest of the Third World.:18–19 Kerala government states gender relations are among the most equitable in India and the Third World, 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
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Education (ICSE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), or the Kerala State Education Board. English is the language of instruction in most private schools, while government run schools offer English or Malayalam as the medium of instruction. After 10 years of secondary schooling, students typically enroll at Higher Secondary School in one of the three streams—liberal arts, commerce or science. Upon completing the required coursework, students can enroll in general or professional degree programmes. Kerala topped the Education Development Index (EDI) among 21 major states in India in year 2006-2007.
Children lining up for school in Kochi. The local dynastic precursors of modern-day Kerala sponsored sabha mathams that imparted Vedic knowledge. Apart from kalaris, which taught martial arts, there were village schools run by Ezhuthachans or Asans. Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics was founded by Madhava of Sangamagrama in Kerala, which included among its members: Parameshvara, Neelakanta Somayaji, Jyeshtadeva, Achyuta Pisharati, Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri and Achyuta Panikkar. The school flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries and the original discoveries of the school seems to have ended with Narayana Bhattathiri (1559-1632). In attempting to solve astronomical problems, the Kerala school independently created a number of important mathematics concepts. Their most important results—series expansion for trigonometric functions—were described in Sanskrit verse in a book by Neelakanta called Tantrasangraha, and again in a commentary on this work, called Tantrasangraha-vakhya, of unknown authorship. The theorems were stated without proof, but proofs for the series for sine, cosine, and inverse tangent were provided a century later in the work Yuktibhasa (c.1500-1610), written in Malayalam, by Jyesthadeva, and also in a commentary on Tantrasangraha. Their work, completed two centuries before the invention of calculus in Europe, provided what is now considered the first example of a power series (apart from geometric series). However, they did not formulate a systematic theory of differentiation and integration, nor is there any direct evidence of their results being transmitted outside Kerala. The history of western-style education in Kerala can be traced to the establishment of numerous schools and colleges by Christian missionaries. Present Schools and colleges are mostly run by the government, private trusts, or individuals. Each school is affiliated with either the Indian Certificate of Secondary
The University of Kerala’s administrative building in Thiruvananthapuram. Thiruvananthapuram, one of the state’s major academic hubs, hosts the University of Kerala and several professional education colleges, including fifteen engineering colleges, three medical colleges, three Ayurveda colleges, two colleges of homeopathy, six other medical colleges, and several law colleges. Trivandrum Medical College, Kerala’s premier health institute, one of the finest in the country, is being upgraded to the status of an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The College of Engineering, Trivandrum is one of the prominent engineering institutions in the state. The Asian School of Business and IIITM-K are two of the other premier management study institutions in the city, both situated inside Technopark. The Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, first of its kind in India, is also situated here. Kochi is another major educational hub. The Cochin University of Science and Technology (also known as "Cochin University") is situated in the suburb of the city. Most of the city’s colleges offering tertiary education are affiliated to the Mahatma Gandhi University. Other national educational institutes in Kochi include the Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training, the National University of Advanced Legal Studies, the National Institute of Oceanography, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology and the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute. College of Fisheries affiliated to
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Kerala Agricultural University is situated at Panangad, a suburban area of the city. Pothanicad, a village in Ernakulam district is the first panchayath in India that achieved 100% literacy.
It also hosts the 13th Centre of NIFT National Institute of Fashion Technology. The people of Kannur, with the effective leadership of Mr M.V. Raghavan established a full-fledged Medical College in Co-operative sector at Pariyaram. Kannur Medical College at Anjarakandy is a private Medical College located in this district. Kasaragode is earmarked by UPA government to establish a Central University and is expected to be operational soon . The people of this region depend on Mangalore in Karnataka for medical facilities and higher education..
Kannur University was established in 1996 to provide development of higher education in Kasaragod, Kannur, and Wayanad Districts. The district of Thrissur holds some of the premier institutions in Kerala such as Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur Medical College, Government Engineering College, Govt. Law College, Ayurveda College, Govt. Fine Arts College, College of Co-operation & Banking and Management, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, College of Horticulture, College of Forestry etc. Thrissur is also a main center of coaching for the entrance examinations for engineering and medicine. Kottayam is also a main educational hub. According to the 1991 census, Kottayam District of Kerala is the first district to achieve full literacy rate in India. Mahatma Gandhi University, CMS College (the first institution to start English education in Southern India) and Medical College, Kottayam are some of the important educational institutions in the district. Kozhikode is home to two of the premier educational institutions in the country: the IIMK, one of the seven Indian Institutes of Management, and the National Institute of Technology Calicut (NITC). Kozhikode also hosts the second medical college in Kerala, Calicut Medical College, affiliated to the University of Calicut. Government Law College is situated at outskirts of the city. Kannur district in northen part of Kerala has a University, one Government Engineering College, one Ayurveda College and several arts and sciences colleges.
A close-up of a Kathakali artist.
Keralite elephants, caparisoned, during the Sree Poornathrayesa Temple festival.
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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. Other forms of art are more religious or tribal in nature. These include chavittu nadakom, oppana (originally from Malabar), which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations. However, many of these art forms largely play to tourists or at youth festivals, and are not as popular among most ordinary Keralites. These people look to more contemporary art and performance styles, including those employing mimicry and parody. Kerala’s music also has ancient roots. Carnatic music dominates Keralite traditional music. This was the result of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma’s popularisation of the genre in the 19th century. Raga-based renditions known as sopanam accompany kathakali performances. Melam (including the paandi and panchari variants) is a more percussive style of music; it is performed at Kshetram centered festivals using the chenda. Melam ensembles comprise up to 150 musicians, and performances may last up to four hours. Panchavadyam is a different form of percussion ensemble, in which up to 100 artists use five types of percussion instrument. Kerala has various styles of folk and tribal music. The popular music of Kerala is dominated by the filmi music of Indian cinema. Kerala’s visual arts range from traditional murals to the works of Raja Ravi Varma, the state’s most renowned painter.
Kerala has its own Malayalam calendar, which is used to plan agricultural and religious activities. Kerala’s cuisine is typically served as a sadhya (feast) on green banana leaves. Such dishes as idli, payasam, pulisherry, puttucuddla, puzhukku, rasam, and sambar are typical. Keralites—both men and women alike—traditionally don flowing and unstitched garments. These include the mundu, a loose piece of cloth wrapped around men’s waists. Women typically wear the sari, a long and elaborately wrapped banner of cloth, wearable in various styles. Presently the North Indian dresses such as Salwar Kameez has also become very popular amongst women in Kerala. The elephants are an integral part of the daily life in Kerala. These Indian elephants are loved, revered, groomed and given a prestigious place in the state’s culture. Elephants in Kerala are often referred to as the ’sons of the sahya.’ The ana(elephant) is the state animal of Kerala and is featured on the emblem of the Government of Kerala.
The predominant spoken language in Kerala is Malayalam, most of whose speakers live 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. The "triumvirate of poets" (Kavithrayam), Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon, and Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer, are recognised for moving Keralite poetry away from archaic sophistry and metaphysics, and towards a more lyrical mode. In the second half of the 20th century, Jnanpith awardees like G. Sankara Kurup, S. K. Pottekkatt, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and M. T. Vasudevan Nair have made valuable contributions to the Malayalam literature. Later, such Keralite writers as O. V. Vijayan, Kamaladas, M. Mukundan, and Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, whose 1996 semi-autobiographical bestseller The God of Small Things is set in the Kottayam town of Ayemenem, have gained international recognition.
Dozens of newspapers are published in Kerala; they are printed in nine major languages. The principal languages of publication are Malayalam and English. The most widely circulating Malayalam-language newspapers include Mathrubhumi, Manorama, Deepika, Kerala Kaumudi,Madhyamam and Deshabhimani. Among major Malayalam periodicals are India Today Malayalam,Madhyamam weekly,Grihalakshmi, Veedu, Vanitha,
During Onam, Keralites create floral pookkalam designs in front of their houses.
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Printed Malayalam text magnified through a lens. Chithrabhumi, Kanyaka, and Bhashaposhini. A Malayalam version of Google News was launched in September 2008. Doordarshan is the state-owned television broadcaster. Multi system operators provide a mix of Malayalam, English, and international channels via cable television.There are 17 malayalam channels which makes the countries maximum number in regional language.Asianet,Amrita TV,Surya TV and Kairali TV are among the Malayalam-language channels that compete with the major national channels. All India Radio, the national radio service, reaches much of Kerala via its Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur & Alappuzha, Malayalam-language broadcasters. BSNL, Reliance Infocomm, Tata Indicom, Vodafone and Airtel compete to provide cellular phone services. Broadband internet is available in most of the towns and cities and is provided by different agencies like the state-run Kerala Telecommunications (which is run by BSNL) and by other private companies like Asianet Satellite communications, VSNL. BSNL provides 2 Mbit/s and 8 Mbit/s broadband service in most of the cities. Malayalam film is most popular in Kerala. Movies produced in Hindi, Tamil and English (Hollywood) are also quite popular in Kerala. Prem Nazir has the Guinness world record for acting in the largest number of movies in a lead role(600). Mammootty and Mohanlal are the leading actors who have won several national awards. Television programmes such as serials, reality shows and the Internet have beome a major source of entrainment and information for the people in Kerala. Yet Keralites maintain high rates of newspaper and magazine subscriptions; 50% spend an average of about seven hours a week reading novels and other books. A sizeable "people’s science" movement has taken root in the state, and such activities as writers’ cooperatives are becoming increasingly common.:2
Kalari puttara shrines are seven-tiered platform-altars where kalaripayattu practitioners pray to the guardian deity. 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. Football is the most popular sport in the state, some notable football stars from Kerala include I. M. Vijayan, V. P. Sathyan, and Jo Paul Ancheri. Cricket, which is the most-followed sport in the rest of India and South Asia, is less popular in Kerala. Other popular sports include Badminton, Volleyball, and Kabaddi. Kerala has a rich history of producing world class athletes, including P. T. Usha, T. C. Yohannan, Suresh Babu, Shiny Wilson, K. M. Beenamol, M. D. Valsamma and Anju Bobby George. Volleyball, another popular sport, is often played on makeshift courts on sandy beaches along the coast. Jimmy George, born in Peravoor, Kannur, was a notable Indian volleyball player, regarded in his prime as among the world’s ten best players. It is from the 1990s that cricket started growing in popularity. The 21st century saw two Kerala Ranji Trophy players gain test selection. Sreesanth, born in Kothamangalam, has represented India since 2005, and is the most successful cricketer from Kerala.. Among less successful Keralite cricketers is Tinu Yohannan, son of Olympic long jumper T. C. Yohannan. Dozens of large stadiums, including Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Thiruvananthapuram’s Chandrashekaran Nair Stadium, attest to the mass appeal of such sports among Keralites.
Kerala, situated on the lush and tropical Malabar Coast, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Named as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 places of a lifetime" by the National Geographic Traveler magazine, Kerala is especially known for its ecotourism initiatives. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, has
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and canals that centre on Alleppey, Kollam, Kumarakom, and Punnamada (where the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in August), also see heavy tourist traffic. Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Mattancherry Palace, are also visited. Cities such as Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram are popular centres for their shopping and traditional theatrical performances. During early summer, the Thrissur Pooram is conducted, attracting foreign tourists who are largely drawn by the festival’s elephants and celebrants.
Bekal Fort Beach
• ^ α: Around the 9th century, the Cheras fell from power. Several small kingdoms (swaroopams) formed under the leadership of Nair chieftains, filling the resulting political vacuum.
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Sunset at Varkala Beach made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Growing at a rate of 13.31%, the state’s tourism industry is a major contributor to the state’s economy. Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination; most tourist circuits focused on North India. Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state, laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry. In the decades that followed, Kerala’s tourism industry was able to transform the state into one of the niche holiday destinations in India. The tagline Kerala- God’s Own Country, originally coined by Vipin Gopal, has been widely used in Kerala’s tourism promotions and soon became synonymous with the state. In 2006, Kerala attracted 8.5 million tourist arrivals, an increase of 23.68% over the previous year, making the state one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world. Popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalam, Cherai and Varkala; the hill stations of Munnar, Nelliampathi, Ponmudi and Wayanad; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar and Eravikulam National Park. The "backwaters" region, which comprises an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes,
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