Kerala, one of the smallest states in the Republic of India, was formed in 1956. It has an area of 15,005 sq. miles. [38,863 sq. km. ] about one percent of the total land area of India.
The state stretches for about 360 miles along the Malabar coast on the western side of the Indian peninsula; its width varies from 20 to 75 miles. It is bordered by the states of karnataka on the north, Tamil Nadu to the east and the arabian sea to the west (map). The state has 14 districts and the capital is in Trivandrum [now Thiruvananthapuram].
Isolated from the deccan plateau by the mountanious belt of the Western Ghats, but with a long coastline open to foreign influences, Kerala has evolved a unique culture. It is a highly politicized region, but has a long tradition of religious amity. It is an educationally advanced state with its own language, Malayalam, and has the highest rate of literacy (100%) among Indian states. Women in Kerala enjoy a high social status, thanks perhaps to its historic matrilineal system. Art forms of Kerala range from Kalaripayattu, the martial art believed to be the origin of various other oriental ones, to Kathakali, one of the dance forms of Kerala considered to be amongst the oldest indian dance styles. The elegant snake boat races have always been the favorite of tourists visiting Kerala.
Kerala is a land of great natural beauty. From the majestic heights of the Western Ghats the country undulates westward presenting a vista of silent valleys clothed in the richest green. Among the many rivers that glide across the plains to merge their waters with the Arabian sea, the more important are the Periyar, the Pamba and the Bharatha puzha. The elegant waterfalls at Athirampally near Trichur is a popular tourist spot. Along the coast, sand dunes shelter a linked chain of lagoons and backwaters the still waters of which are studded with sea-gulls and country canoes plying at a snails pace. The silence of the clear skies is broken only by the coos of koels, a type of cuckoo, and the frequent flutter of cranes perched on the embankments. The highest peak of peninsular India Annai Mudi is located in this state. The scenic Thekkady Wild Life Sanctuary is a popular vacation destination for nature lovers.
The climate is equable and varies little from season to season. The temperature normally ranges from 80 to 90 F in the plains but drops to about 70 F in the highlands. The state gets its due share of both the southwest as well as the northeast monsoons, and the rainfull is heavy, averaging around 118 inches annually.
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