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         Along a sun drenched coastline, to the extreme south west of the Indian peninsula, lies Kerala, beautiful and benign. Flanked by the Arabian sea on the west and the mountains of the Western Ghats on the east, this land of Parasurama stretch north-south along a coast line of 580 kms with a varying width of 35 to 120 kms.
Cascading delicately down the hills to the golden coasts covered by verdant coconut groves, the topography and physical characteristics change distinctly from east to west.

         Located between north latitudes 8 degree 18' and 12 degree 48' and east longitudes 74 degree 52' and 72 degree 22', this land of eternal beauty encompasses 1.18 per cent of the country.

         The Western Ghats, bordering the eastern boundary of the State, form an almost continuous mountain wall, except near Palakkad where there is a natural mountain pass known as the Palakkad Gap. The average elevation of the Ghats is about 1500 meters above sea level, occasionally soaring to peaks of 2000 to 2500 m. From the Ghats, the land slopes to west on to the plains, into an unbroken coastline.

         The nature of the terrain and its physical features, divides an east west cross section of the state into three district regions - hill and valleys , midland plains and coastal region.

Population Data
         K
erala has 31,838,619 people according to the 2001 census, which is nearly 3.44 per cent of the country's population. Her population density is 819 persons per sq.km., the third in India and clocks at thrice the national average. The sex-ratio recorded in this census is 1058 females per 1000 males. The state has a unique place in the literacy map of India, with a literacy rate of 90.92%.

         According to 2001, the birth rate is 18.3 and death rate is 6.4. The coastal belt is thickly populated, and it is the hilly tracts where the density of population is the lowest.

         The rate of increase of population is slowing down. From about 135 lakh in 1951, the population increased to 169 lakh by 1961, 213 lakh by 1971, 254 lakh by 1981, 291 lakh by 1991 and 274 lakh by 2001.

Hills & Valleys
         T
his strip of land on the eastern edge, close to the Ghats, comprises of steep mountains and deep valleys, covered with dense forests. Almost all the rivers of the state originate here. Tea and coffee estates have cropped up in the high ranges during the last two centuries.

Midland Plains

         In this central region, the hills are not very steep and the valleys are wide. The valleys have been developed as paddy fields and the elevated lands and hill slopes, converted into estates of rubber, fruit trees and other cash crops like pepper, tapioca, etc.

Coastal Belt

         This strip near the coastline, is comparatively plain. Extensive paddy fields, thick groves of coconut trees and picturesque backwaters, interconnected with canals and rivers, are the features of this region. In the southern and northern parts of the state, the coastal belt also has some hills and valleys.

Backwaters & Rivers
Backwaters:
The backwaters are a peculiar feature of the state. Canals link the lakes and backwaters to facilitate an uninterrupted inland water navigation system from Thiruvananthapuram to Vadakara, a distance of 450 kms. The Vembanad lake stretching from Alappuzha to Kochi is the biggest water basin and is over 200 sq.kms. in area. Water-logged Kuttanad alone forms more than 20 per cent of India's total length of waterways.


Rivers: There are 44 rivers in the state, of which 41 originate from the Western Ghats and flow towards west into the Arabian sea. Three tributaries of the river Cauvery originate in Kerala and flow east into the neighbouring States. These rivers and streams flowing down from the Western Ghats either empty themselves in to the backwaters in the coastal area or directly into the Arabian Sea.

As the Western Ghats are nowhere more than 120 kms from the sea, all these rivers are comparatively short.

The important rivers from north to south are; Valapattanam river (110 kms.),
Chaliar (69 kms.), Kadalundipuzha (130 kms.), Bharathapuzha (209 kms.), Chalakudy river (130 kms.), Periyar (244 kms), Pamba (176 kms), Achancoil (128 kms.) and Kalladayar (121 kms.). Other than these, there are 35 more small rivers and rivulets flowing down from the Ghats. Most of these rivers are navigable up to the midland region for country crafts which provide a cheap and reliable transport system.


The presence of a large number of rivers has made Kerala rich in water resources which are being harnessed for power generation and irrigation.

Rivers/ Rivelets of Kerala
Name of river/rivelets
Length in Kms.
(A) West Flowing
1 Majeswar 16
2 Uppala 50
3 Shiriya 67
4 Mogral 34
5 Chandragiri 105
6 Chittari 25
7 Nileswar 46
8 Kariangode 64
9 Kavvaiyi 31
10 Peruvamba 51
11 Ramapuram 19
12 Kuppam 82
13 Valapattanam 110
14 Anjarakandy 48
15 Tellicherry 28
16 Mahe 54
17 Kuttiyadi 74
18 Korapuzha 46
19 Kallai 22
20 Chaliyar 169
21 Kadalundi 130
22 Tirur 48
23 Bharathapuzha 209
24 Keecheri 51
25 Puzhakkal 29
26 Karuvannur 48
27 Chalakudy 130
28 Periyar 244
29 Muvattupuzha 121
30 Meenachil 78
31 Manimala 90
32 Pamba 176
33 Achencoil 128
34 Pallickal 42
35 Kallada 121
36 Ithikara 56
37 Ayoor 17
38 Vamanapuram 88
39 Mamom 27
40 Karamana 68
41 Neyyar 56
(B) East Flowing(Tributaries of Kaveri)
42 Kabani  
43 Bhavani  
44 Pambar  

Rain Fall
Kerala receives a fairly good annual rainfall varying from 1250 to 5000 mm.The normal annual rainfall of Kerala is 3107 mm.(national average is 1197mm). The State has the benefit of the South West and North East monsoon. Although, quantum wise the rainfall received is fairly high, its distribution shows wide temporal and spatial variations. On an average the number of rainy days is in the range of 120-140 in a year. The annual yield of water in Kerala in a normal year is around 7030 crores cubic metres. The utilizable water resource is around 4200 crore cubic metres. The highest rainfall occurs in the high ranges of Idukki district where it exceeds 500 cm.

This diversity of rainfall makes it very cold high up in the mountains, while lower down at an elevation of 1000 to 1500 meters, a bracing climate is experienced. In the plains and lowlands, it is generally warm and humid. Maximum temperature is around 36.7 degree C and the minimum is about 19.8 degree C

 


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for Public Relations Department, Govt. of Kerala.