Kerala, one of the smallest states in the Republic of India. It has an area of 38,863 sq km about one percent of the total land area of India. To its east and northeast, Kerala borders Tamil Nadu and Karnataka; to its west and south lie the Indian Ocean islands of Lakshadweep and the Maldives, respectively. Kerala envelops Mahé, a coastal exclave of Pondicherry. Kerala is one of four states that comprise the linguistic-cultural region known as South India.
First settled in the 10th century BC by speakers of Proto-South Dravidian, Kerala was influenced by the Mauryan Empire. Later, the Cheran kingdom and feudal Nair-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.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.The state has 14 districts and the capital is in Trivandrum [now Thiruvananthapuram].
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 rates of suicide, unemployment, and violent crime rank among India's highest.
The etymology of the name "Kerala" is disputed. The prevailing theory states that it is an imperfect portmanteau that fuses kera ("coconut palm tree") and alam ("land" or "location"). Natives of Kerala — "Keralites" or "Malayalees" — thus refer to their land as Keralam. Other theories have the name originating from the phrase chera alam ("Land of the Chera"). The Kerala tourism industry has adopted the slogan "God's own country".