Location : Southwestern tip of India.
Area : 38, 863 sq km.
Population : 3,18,38,619
Capital : Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)
Language : Malayalam; English is widely spoken.
Religion : Hinduism, Christianity, Islam
Time : GMT +5:30
Climate : Tropical.
Summer : February - May (24 - 330C)
Monsoon : June - September (22 - 280C)
Winter : October - January (22 - 320C)
Kerala is on the southern most tip of India. It stretches along the coast of the Arabian Sea and is separated from the rest of the sub continent by the steep Western Ghats. The state lies between 80 18 ' and 120 48 ' north latitude and 740 52' and 770 22' east longitude. The breadth of the state varies from 32 kms in the extreme north and south to over 120 kms in the middle.
Kerala attracted the notice of people in other parts of India even from time immemorial. It is evident from the many reference to the land of in ancient Sanskrit works. The Aitareya Aranyaka is the earliest Sanskrit work, which specifically mentions Kerala. The great Epics Ramayana and Mahabharatha, show awareness of Kerala on the part of their authors. Katyayana (4th century BC) and Pathanjali (2nd Century BC) show their acquaintance with the geography of Kerala. Kautilya’s Arthasastra mentions Kerala. The puranas also mention Kerala.Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa has given a beautiful description of Kerala.
Kerala stands in the forefront of Indian states in the matter of literacy and education. According to the census of 1991 the rate of literacy in Kerala is 94.59 per cent. This literacy rate is more than double that of the country. It is significant that Kerala is almost on a par with the most advanced countries of the world in point of literacy.
Language and Literature
Malayalam as a distinct language had its origin in the ninth century AD. Till then the people on either side of the Western Ghats spoke the same language, with dialectal variations with in itself. There is general agreement among ethnologists that the first component of the word, viz., and ‘mala’ means hill or mountain, but in regard to the second component, viz.,’alam’ there is a difference of opinion, According to one view the word is identical with ‘azham’, meaning “sea” or “deep”, which would make Malayalam the land lying between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. In the other view Malayalam means “a land abounding in hills”.
The coming of the European powers gave a boost to the economy of Kerala in certain fields and this also helped in the gradual emergence of a new economic order. The Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British have contributed to the economic development of the state. Kerala’s participation in the freedom struggle is also significant. There were a number of social and religious movements in Kerala, the contributions of Chattampi Swamikal and Sri Narayana Guru is important in this context. Improvement of intercaste relations, movement of Christian unity, Indianisation of the Church, Muslim reform movements and Land reforms in the state have made significant improvement in the social and cultural heritage.
A state with 100% literacy, world standards of health, and a hard working, determined, dedicated population is always setting standards in all most all the spheres of its activity. In more modern times the Keralites have migrated in large numbers in search of employment to several foreign countries like United States, Malaysia and Singapore in South East Asia as well as to several countries of Africa and West Asia. The professionals of Kerala are among the most wanted experts in the fields of medicine, Information Technology etc.
Kerala is known for its communal harmony and it is achieved by Kerala’s interaction with varied cultures and ways of life, both indigenous and foreign. Originally its people followed the Dravidian way of life and religious practice. In due course many indigenous religions and philosophical systems from North India made their appearance on Kerala soil and competed with one another for the loyalties of the people. The story of the synthesis of Dravidian and Aryan cultures and the rise and fall of religions like Jainism and Buddhism in ancient Kerala is of particular interest to those engaged in the study of the story of cultural synthesis. At the same time Kerala’s commercial contacts with foreign countries, world religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam were also introduced in the land and they helped considerably in shaping the composite culture of the land