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.
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.
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.
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
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Rivelets of Kerala
East Flowing(Tributaries of Kaveri)
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.
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