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Subject : Kerala
Content : Paradise on Earth

Kerala is located in the southern part of the Indian peninsula. Kerala is a word fusing ‘kera’(coconut tree) and ‘alam’ (land) meaning land of coconut trees. The first written mention of Kerala is seen in a 3rd-century-BC rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great, where it is mentioned as Keralaputra. According to the legend, Kerala was ruled by an Asura king, Maveli who was known for his morality and wisdom. He was later exiled by Vamana. Onam, the Keralite festival is celebrated with great vigour in Maveli’s memory.

Kerala was well known among the Greeks and Romans for its spices, specially black pepper. Kerala has seen many leaders make there place in history one among them is the ‘Lion of Kerala’, Pazhassi Raja who had a memorable revolt against the British Raj. After India gained its independence in 1947, the Indian Government recognised Kerala to statehood in 1956. After which a new assembly was elected and formed in 1957, it was lead by E.M.S. Namboodiripad. This bought a steep raise in the economy. As a result, living standards, education, and life expectancy improved dramatically.

Geographically, Kerala is situated at the southern most tip of the India and is surrounded by mountains, rivers and valleys. Kerala has a major part of its rivers flowing to the west. The backwaters are dominated by Lake Vembanad, Kerala’s largest waterbody. The Periyar, the Chaliyar, the Pamba , the Bharathapuzha, the Kadalundipuzha and the Achankovil are some of the important rivers in Kerala. Kerala's rivers face many problems, including summer droughts, the building of large dams, sand mining, and pollution. A large number of fishing villages can be seen along the coastline.

The eastern portions are mainly covered by high ranges like the Agastyamalai and Anamalai. Due to its natural varied features, Kerala can be rightfully called ‘’Paradise on Earth’’. A study has revealed Kerala as one of the world’s twenty-five biodiversity hotspots.

Kerala’s location has a tremendous influence on its climate. Kerala experiances a maritime climate with seasonal heavy downpours. During summer season there are droughts, gale winds and drizzles.

Kerala’s climate supports its rich flora and fauna. About one fourth of India’s 10,000 plant species are found in Kerala. There are about 900 medical plant and herbs that are found in Kerala. Other plants include bamboo, wild black pepper, wild cardamom. Tropical evergreen forest and deciduous forest are found in Kerala. Kerala's fauna are notable for their diversity. There are about 100 species of mammals, 476 species of birds, 200 species of fishes and 170 species of snakes of which 139 are found in Kerala only. Some of the very well noted fauna are the Asian Elephant, Bengal Tiger, Leopard, reptiles like the King Cobra, viper, python and crocodile, birds like Peafowl, the Great Hornbill and Indian Grey Hornbill. Kerala’s lakes and rivers are filled with different varieties of fishes like catfish, karimeen etc. However due to various factors like urbanisation, soil erosion, landslides, salinization, and resource extraction Kerala’s rich fauna and flora is threatened.

Kerala has a total of fourteen districts including Thiruvananthapuram,the state capital and the most populous city. Kochi is the major port city in Kerala. Kozhikode, Thrissur, and Kannur are the other major commercial centers of the state.

Kerala is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker and in his absence by the Deputy Speaker. Kerala has 140 Assembly constituencies. The state sends 20 members to the Lok Sabha and 9 to the Rajya Sabha.The judiciary comprises of the Kerala High Court.It is the apex court and is located in Ernakulam.

Kerala has two major political parties: the United Democratic Front (UDF—led by the Indian National Congress) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF—led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). At present, the LDF is the ruling party in Kerala. V.S. Achuthanandan of the CPI(M) is the Chief Minister of Kerala and Oommen Chandy of the UDF is the Chief Opposition leader.

Kerala is one of the few regions in the world where communist parties are elected in parliamentary democracy. Unlike other Indians, Keralites are very active and keen participants of the political process. Many elections are won by razor-thin margins of victory. Strikes, protests, rallies, and marches are inevitable in the state of Kerala.

Kerala has a well equiped and fully fledged economy.the agricultural and fishing sector along with other service sectors like transport, tourism, banking and finance and communication dominate the kerala economy. About one by two of Kerala’s population is engaged in agriculture alone for income. Rice is the staple food of Kerala. There are more than 300 varieties of rice found in Kerala. Other crops like coconut, tea, coffee, rubber, cashews, and spices like cardomom, cinnamom etc are exported to other countries. The cultivation of such crops provide employment to a large number of people and help to enhance the status of the economy.

The state has three international airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode. They link the state with the rest of the nation and the world.a new international airport is coming up at Kannur, once operational Kannur international airport will be the largest airport in Kerala. The Cochin International Airport at Kochi is the first international airport in India that was built without Central Government funds. It is also the country's first publicly owned airport. The backwaters traversing the state are an important mode of inland navigation. The Indian Railway’s Southern Railway line runs throughout the state, connecting all major towns and cities except those in the highland. Kerala's major railway stations are Trivandrum Central, Kollam Junction, Ernakulam Junction, Kannur, Kozhikode, and Palakkad.

Gender relations in Kerala are the most equitable in India. Women compose 51.42% of the population and they enjoy a high social status.Kerala has a rich tribal culture and is a home to about 2,00,000 Adivasis.

Kerala has one of the highest literacy rates and life expectancy in India. This is due to the well developed education system and well equiped health care. Besides the modern medical facilities practices like ayurveda, siddha, unani and many other modes of traditional medicine, including kalari, marmachikitsa, and vishavaidyam, are practiced. They comprise a fusion of both medicinal and supernatural treatments.They are responsible for drawing a large number of medical tourists to kerala.

The richness and robustness of Kerala's education system can be seen by her status as one of the most literate states in the country. Kerala made significant contributions to the progress on education by sponsoring sabha mathams that imparted Vedic knowledge. Apart from kalaris, which taught martial arts, there were village schools run by Ezhuthachans or Asans. The history of western education in Kerala can be traced to Christian missionaries who set up numerous schools and colleges. The schools and colleges in Kerala are run by the government or private trusts or individuals. Each school is affiliated with either the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), or the Kerala State Education Board. English is the language of instruction in most private schools, while government run schools offer English or Malayalam as medium. After 10 years of secondary schooling, students enroll at Higher Secondary School in one of the three streams—liberal arts, commerce or science. Upon completing the required coursework, students can enroll in general or professional degree programmes.

Kerala is enriched with art and music.they are highly valued and are mostly played to tourists or at youth festivals. They are not common among the ordinary mensfolk. Kerala's music has ancient roots. Carnatic music dominates Keralite traditional music. Kerala has various styles of folk and tribal music. Kerala has a wide range of artwork mostly by the state’s well known painter, Raja Ravi Varma . The world's oldest martial arts, Kalaripayattu has its origin in kerala.Kerala's cuisine is typically served on green banana leaves. Such dishes as idli, payasam, pulisherry, rasam, and sambar are typical.

Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination; most tourist circuits focused on North India. Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state, laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry. In the decades that followed, Kerala's tourism industry was able to transform the state into one of the holiday destinations in India. Kerala is named as one of the "Ten paradises of the world" and "50 places of a lifetime" by the National Geographic Traveler magazine.Kerala is especially known for its tourism activities. Its unique culture and traditions has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Growing at a rate of 13.31%, the state's tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy. Kerala is one of the most densely populated states in India and ranks 12th among states in terms of population. Kerala one of the most literate, healthiest, and gender-equitable regions in India. Kerala has one of the most advanced educational systems in India. Nevertheless, Kerala's suicide, alcoholism, and unemployment rates rank among India's highest.

The uniqueness of Kerala can not only be seen the state but also in its people. We have many keralities who have done work worth international recognition. Keralities are fast learners and adaptable. You can see a keralite in almost every part of the world. They have a unique bondness between them. Whether its Onam , Christmas, Id they celebrate it with joy. We have many keralities who have done work worth international recognition. Like true patriotic citizens we have them around the globe carrying with them the rich traditions and cultures of Kerala. The future is awaiting the state and its people with lot of oppurtunities. Lets hope that we make the best use of it.
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