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Map of Kerala (Source: India-WRIS)



There are various legends about the state. The most popular legend is that Kerala was raised from the depths of the ocean. Several Hindu rulers ruled the state like Venad (in the Travancore area), the Cheras rulers, the Zamorine etc. Vasco De Gama landed in this state at Kozhikode (Calicut) in 1498 A.D. in the reign of Zamorin dynasty. The Arabs also played a useful role in transmitting the culture of this state. The Muslim ruler of Mysore, Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan had their sway over Kerala till the British arrived.The British took northern Kerala under their direct rule and thereby came the Malabar area under the British with Calicut as the principal city. The southern part of this state, Cochin (now Kochi) and further south the state of Travancore were granted separate existence by the British. After independence first, two major princely states of Kerala, Cochin and Travancore, were merged into a single state and in 1956 when the states of India were recognised on a large scale, the state of Kerala was created with separation of Malabar region from Madras and its merger with the Travancore-Cochin combined state. It is believed that the name Kerala is derived from Ker, the Coconut tree, although some scholars hold a different view.


Kerala is one of the small states of India in terms of area. it consists of only 1.3 per cent of the total area of India. The state is located in the southwest corner of India. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu bound it on north, east and south and on east by the Arabian Sea. Physiographically, the state may be divided into three regions, Highlands, Midlands and Lowlands. In between the high western ghats and the Arabian sea, the width of the State varies from 35 km to 120 km. There are extensive backwaters, lagoons, and coconut trees in the lowland area. The midland area are watered by numerous streams and where the presence of rice-fields, arecanut and coconut trees continues to dominate the landscape. The third natural part, the highlands of western ghats consists deep ravines and thick jungles. Thus Kerala is a narrow stretch of green land. The state is a land of rivers and backwaters. As many as 41 rivers which rise from the western ghats, flow down to the midlands and lowlands to the west. There are a few east flowing rivers also, which are the tributaries of the Cauvery. The length of most of the rivers is extremely limited and they are monsoon-fed. Some of the rivers are Bharatapuzha, Chalakkudy, Peechi, Malampuzha, Gayatri, Walayar, Vazhani, Neyyar, Periyar, Mangalam and Cheerakuzhy.The backwaters form a specially attractive and economically valuable feature of Kerala. They include lakes and ocean inlets which stretch irregularly along the coast. The biggest backwater is the Veembandh lake. The state has a long coastline is about 550 km long. The state enjoys an equable climate with high temperatures almost throughout the year. There is participation of both monsoon southwest and northeast. The highland area receives more rainfall than other parts of the state.


Kerala state is a narrow stretch of land along a sun-drenched coastline, at extreme south west corner of the Indian peninsula, bordering Lakshadeep Sea on the western side and Tamilnadu and Karnataka in the east. The length of the state from north to south is 560 km and the average width is 70 km with a maximum of 125 km. Thiruvananthapuram is the state capital.


Kerala being situated in the tropical zone, experiences the typical humid tropical climate. Meanwhile, its extreme eastern fringes experience a drier tropical wet and dry climate. Kerala receives an average annual rainfall of 3107 mm. Parts of Kerala's lowlands receive only 1250 mm average annual rainfall, while the cool mountainous eastern highlands of Idukki district, comprising Kerala's wettest region, receive over 5,000 mm of average annual orographic precipitation. Kerala's rains are mostly the result of seasonal monsoons. As a result, Kerala averages some 120–140 rainy days per year. In summers, most of Kerala is prone to gale-force winds, storm surges, and torrential downpours accompanying dangerous cyclones coming in off the Indian Ocean.

Water Resources

Kerala state is rich in water resources. Three tributaries of the river Cauvery originate in Kerala and flow eastward. These rivers and streams flowing down from the Western Ghats either empty themselves in to the backwaters in the coastal area or directly into the Arabian Sea. Major rivers are Valapattanam river, Chaliar, Kadalundipuzha, Bharathapuzha, Chalakudy river, Periyar, Pamba, Achancoil and Kalladayar. Most of these rivers are navigable up to the midland region for country crafts which provide a cheap and reliable transport system. The backwaters are especially attractive and economically valuable feature of Kerala. They include lakes and ocean inlets which stretch water into the Vembanad Lake. In area, which opens out into the Arabian Sea at Cochin Port. Other important lakes are AnjuThengu, Edava, Nadayaram Paravoor, Ashtamudi (Quilon), Kayamkulam, Kodungallor, (Cranganore) and Cheruva. Canals link the lakes and backwaters to facilitate an uninterrupted inland water navigation system.


  • Agriculture
  • Industry
  • Mines & Minerals


Agriculture is the main occupation of the people. Nearly half of the population depend upon agriculture for their livelihood. A unique feature of the State is the predominance of cash crops. Kerala is a major producer of coconut, rubber, pepper, cardamom, ginger, cocoa, cashew, arecanut, coffee and tea. Spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, etc., are also cultivated. Coconut is the most important cash crop of Kerala. Pepper earns the maximum foreign exchange. Banana, pineapple, mango and jackfruit are major fruit crops. Rice and tapioca are important food crops. Tapioca is generally consumed locally but some of it goes to feed the starch factories and mills manufacturing tapioca flour. Kerala is not self-sufficient in food. The total area under cultivation has increased in respect of coconut, rubber, pepper and turmeric. However, crops like cashewnut, banana, groundnut and sesamum have lost their coverage in area.


The state has a very good industrial potential because of good infrastructural facilities like hydro-power, transport system and availability of forest-based and mine-based rare minerals. Traditional industries are handloom, cashew, coir and handicrafts. Other important industries are rubber, tea, ceramics, electric and electronic appliances, telephone cables, transformers, bricks and tiles, drugs and chemicals, general engineering, plywood splints and veneers, Beedi and cigar, soaps, oils, fertilizers and Khadi and village industry products. A number of manufacturing units have also sprung-up for production of precision instruments, machine tools, petroleum and petroleum products, paints, pulp paper, newsprint, glass and non-ferrous metals. Principal export products are cashewnut, tea, coffee, spices, lemongrass oil, sea foods, rose wood and coir.

Mines and Minerals

The State has an abundance of important minerals like ilmenite, rutile, monazite, zircon, sillimanite, clay and quartz sand.


  • Irrigation
  • Power
  • Transport
  • Health
  • Education
  • Telecommunication


The irrigation system in Kerala is serviced through major, medium and minor irrigation as well as ground water and command area development programmes. In the field of irrigation, the major schemes are Chalakkudy, Peechi, Malampuzha, Gayatri, Walayar, Vazhani, Neyyar, Pamba, Periyar, Mangalam, Chimmini and Cheerakuzhy. Several other irrigation schemes have been commissioned Construction works of seven major irrigation projects - Kallada, Pazhassi, Muvattupuzha, Idamalayar, Karappara- Kuriarkutty, Chaliar and Kanjirappuzha are in progress.


Kerala's power projects are mostly hydro-based because of heavy rainfall and a large number of swift flowing rivers.To meet the fast growing energy requirements, the Government has decided to introduce alternative power generating systems. Peppara hydel power project with a capacity of three MW has commissioned. The work of first stage of diesel power station, Brahmapuram is nearing completion. The Kerala State Electricity Board wholly controls the power generation and distribution in the State. Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT) acts as a nodal agency for the non-conventional source of energy in the State.



Adequate transport facilities exist in Kerala lowlands. In all other areas network of transport is thin due to several bottlenecks like absence of bridges, weak culverts, narrow width and tortuous alignments etc.


There are three airports, viz., Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi (Nedumbassery) and Kozhikode of which the first two are international airports.


Among 18 ports, Kochi is the only major port in the state. There are three intermediate ports and 14 minor ports.


Kerala is an important tourist destination: attractive wildlife sanctuaries at Thekkady on the banks of river Periyar, at Parambikulam in Palakkad district and at Mananthavady, Sulthan Batheri and at Wayanad, seaside resort at Kovalam. Padmanabhaswami temple in Thiruvananthapuram is an exquisite specimen of South Indian architecture. Sabarimala temple of Lord Ayyappa is a famous pilgrim tourist centre in Pathanamthitta district. Thiruvananthapuram, the capital, is an abode of temples, mosques and churches. Veli lagoon, Neyyardam and Ponmudi the famous hill stations are the other tourist centres in and around Thiruvananthapuram. Veli provides boat ride facilities. Kalady the birth place of Adi Sankara, Lord Krishna Temple at Guruvayoor, Backel beach (Kasaragode), Malampuzha at Palakkad, Pookkode lake, Kurvadeweep, Pakshipathalam and Edakkal caves in Waynad are notable tourist centres. The famous Kathakali centre, Kalamandalam in Thrissur district is a place of interest for lovers of performing arts.

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