|— State —|
The state has an area of 38,863 km2 (15,005 sq mi) and is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the south and southeast and the Arabian Sea towards the west. Thiruvananthapuram is the capital city. Kochi and Kozhikode are other major cities. Kerala is also known for its many small towns that are scattered across the state, thus creating a higher density of population.
Stone age carving in Edakkal Caves had pictorial writings believed to be dating to at least 5000 BC, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilization or settlement in this region. From as early as 3000 BC, Kerala had established itself as a major spice trade center. Kerala had direct contact across the Arabian Sea with all the major Red Sea ports and the Mediterranean ports as well as extending to ports in the Far East. The spice trade between Kerala and much of the world was one of the main drivers of the world economy. For much of history, ports in Kerala were the busiest (Muziris) among all trade and travel routes in the history of the world.
During the classical Sangam period the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty, which traded with the Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Tamil Chera dynasty, Aysand the Pandyan Empire were the traditional rulers of Kerala whose patriarchal dynasties ruled until the 14th century. The Cheras collapsed after repeated attacks from the neighboring Chola Empire and Rashtrakuta Empire. Feudal Namboothiri Brahmin and Nair city-states subsequently gained control of the region.
Contact with Europeans after the arrival of the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama in 1498 gave way to struggles between colonial and native interests. In 1795, the area was under the control of the British East India Company. From 1858, the power was shifted from the Company to the British, with the area being under the British Raj. After independence in 1947, the state of Kerala was created in 1956 from the former state of Travancore-Cochin, the Malabar district of the Madras State, and the Kasaragod taluk of Dakshina Kannada.
Kerala is a popular tourist destination famous for its backwaters, Ayurvedic treatments and tropical greenery. Kerala has a higher Human Development Index than all other states in India. The state has a literacy rate of 94.59 percent, the highest in India. A survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in the country. Kerala has witnessed significant migration of its people, especially to the Persian Gulf countries during the Kerala Gulf boom, and is heavily dependent on remittances from its large Malayali expatriate community.