Kerala is one of the ten 'Paradises Found' by the National Geographic
Traveler, for its diverse geography and overwhelming greenery. It is a land much
acclaimed for the contemporary nature of its cultural ethos, and much
appreciated for the soothing, rejuvenating paradise that it is.
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.
Kerala is a state on the Malabar Coast of southwestern India. To its
east and northeast, Kerala borders Tamil Nadu and Karnataka respectively; to its
west and south lie Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean with the islands of
Lakshadweep and the Maldives, respectively. Kerala envelops Mahé, a coastal
exclave of Pondicherry. Kerala is one of the four states in South India.
First settled in the 10th century BCE by speakers of P cxroto-South
Dravidian, Kerala was influenced by the Mauryan Empire. Later, the Cheran
kingdom and feudal Namboothiri Brahminical city-states became major powers in
the region. Early contact with overseas lands culminated in struggles between
colonial and native powers. Finally, the States Reorganisation Act of November
1, 1956 elevated Kerala to statehood.
Social reforms enacted in the late 19th
century by Cochin and Travancore were expanded upon by post-Independence
governments, making Kerala among the Third World's longest-lived, healthiest,
most gender-equitable, and most literate regions. However, Kerala's suicide, alcoholism and unemployment rates rank among India's highest.
The etymology of Kerala
is widely disputed, and is a matter of conjecture. It may derive from Sanskrit
keralam, means 'the land added on', with reference to its mythical and
geographical origins. Another prevailing theory states that it is an imperfect
Malayalam portmanteau that fuses kera
('coconut palm tree') and alam ('land' or 'location' or 'abode of' ).
Natives of Kerala—Keralites—thus refer to their land as Keralam. The most reliable theory is that the name is originated from the
phrase chera alam (Land of the Chera). Kerala's tourism industry,
among others, also use the phrase God's own country.