Kerala, state SW India, on the Arabian Sea. Thiruvananthapuram is the capital.
A wet tropical climate and coastal lowlands support cultivation of rice, coconuts,
tapioca, and spices; the interior hills produce rubber, coffee, and tea. A
densely populated state, Kerala was created in 1956 from the Malayalam-speaking
former princely states of Cochin and Travancore and Malayalam-speaking areas
formerly in Madras state (now Tamil Nadu). About 60% of the population is Hindu;
Christians and Muslims each make up about 20% of the remaining inhabitants.
Although Kerala has the highest literacy rate in India (1981 est. 70%), it
suffers from economic underdevelopment and unemployment. In 1957, India's first
Communist state administration was elected in Kerala, and a Communist coalition
was again elected in 1967, 1970, and 1987. Maoist Naxalite groups were active in
the state. Kerala takes its name from the ancient Tamil kingdom of Kerala
(Chera), which traded with the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans.
The state is governed by a chief minister responsible to an elected unicameral legislature
and by a governor appointed by the president of India.
Kerala is a land of surf, spice and magic and an ancient
crossroads of cultures... Chinese fishing nets drawn up on the golden sand,
Jewish synagogues, Portuguese forts, Dutch and Syrian churches, and of course
beautiful Indian temples and palaces... backed by mountains, fringed with surf,
beautiful beaches, alluring backwaters, paddy fields, spice plantations and
swaying palms trees.
Geographically, Kerala is a narrow fertile strip on the
southwest coast of India, sandwiched between the Lakshadweep Sea and the Western
Ghats. The Western Ghats with their dense forests and extensive ridges have
sheltered Kerala from many mainland invaders and the long coastline has
encouraged maritime contact with the outside world - a contact that has resulted
in an interesting blend of cultures. The State's heart is composed of intensely
green paddy fields and a unique network of rivers and lagoons. Upland Kerala,
relatively little visited, is composed of hills thickly wooded with teak and
rubber. It is here that Kerala's most precious spices, cardamom, pepper and
nutmeg, are grown in carefully nurtured plantations.
Kerala's multitude of faiths - Islam, Judaism, and a host of
sects of Christianity and Hinduism, all coexist harmoniously in a state that is
known for its Marxist inclinations! Kerala's traditions of dance forms, which
originated from temple worship, can be witnessed at regularly held performances.
Lecture-demonstrations of the most spectacular of these - Kathakali - are held
daily at many centres in Cochin.
This is one of India's most progressive regions and yet it
has all the aspects of a tropical paradise, complete with palm trees waving over
sandy beaches lining the blue seas of lush travelogues. It offers beautiful
beaches; backwater trips along peaceful lagoons and canals, hill stations,
wildlife sanctuaries and complex cultural customs. In this entrancing state,
there is much to explore and enjoy - splendid festivals with intriguing rituals;
herds of elephants leading giant processions; exotic handicrafts and seafood
preparations; cosmopolitan cities where the past is always within reach and
small towns where time has stood still. All this and more, makes Kerala the
ideal holiday destination, far removed from the cares of everyday world.
Kerala is one of the most advanced states in India in the fields of
education, transportation, communication and health care delivery. Most of the
advancement since independence has come in the field of education. Industrial
development has lagged behind some other centers in India due to labour unrest,
lack of power resources and government ineptitude.