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The first known mention of Kerala occurs on one of the rock inscriptions left by Asoka, the Mauryan emperor during the third century B.C. It was then an independent kingdom known as Kerala putra, which was ruled by the powerful Chera dynasty until the fifth century A.D. The history of Kerala from the Sixth to Eighth centuries A.D. is obscure. From 825 AD - the year in which the "Kolla" era began - Kerala rose to prominence under the Kulasekhara dynasty. The Ninth and Tenth Centuries formed a golden age marked by a remarkable development in philosophy, literature, education and the fine arts. This period marks the origin of Malayalam as a separate language. During the Eleventh century, a hundred years' war with the Cholas led to the disintegration of the Chera kingdom into innumerable principalities. By the beginning of the 14th century, however, the ruler Ravi Varma Kulasekhara established a short-lived supremacy over the whole of Southern India. Soon after his death in 1314 Kerala became a conglomeration of warring chieftaincies among which the most important were Calicut in the North and Travancore in the South.


The year 1498 - when Vasco de Gama landed at Calicut - marked the beginning of the era of foreign intervention and occupation. In the 16th century the Portuguese superseded the Arab traders and dominated the commerce of Malabar. The Dutch ousted the Portuguese in the 17th century but met with a crushing defeat at the hands of King Marthanda Varma of Travancore in 1741. The destructive invasions of Kerala between 1766 and 1790 by Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan, of Mysore, paved the way for the establishment of British Power. Both Cochin and Travancore were obliged to accept British suzerainty in 1791 and 1795 respectively. The Zamorins' territories in the north were annexed by the British and constituted into the Malabar district of the Madras presidency under their direct rule. Unsuccessful revolts against British rule were led by Pazhassi Raja of Malabar from 1800 to 1805 and by Velu Thampi of Travancore in 1809, both of whom were martyred as a result.


The independence struggle in Kerala developed in two phases. The first phase was violent and directed against the British. The second was peaceful and was part of the nationalist movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.


The nationalist struggle in Kerala envisaged along with independence for the whole country, the unification of the Malayalam-speaking people under one administration.


On 1st July 1949, Travancore and Cochin were integrated into a new State of Travancore-Cochin. When the states of the Indian Union were reorganised on linguistic basis on 1st November 1956, the Malabar district was added to Travancore-Cochin to form the new state of Kerala. The Tamil speaking southern region of Old Travancore including Kanyakumari became part of Tamilnadu.



The people of Kerala or the 'Malayalees' got this name from their mother tongue, Malayalam. The word Malayalam itself is an alternative name for Kerala and means "the land of mountains and sea".

Kerala is one of the most densely populated states in India with a population of nearly 33.3 million people. The average density of population according to 2011 census was 859 persons per square Km.  The sex ratio is 1084 females to 1000 males. Among 14 districts, Malappuram ranks first with a population of 41.1 lakhs and Thiruvananthapuram ranks next with 33.07 Lakhs. Wayanad is the least populated district in the state with a population of 8.16 Lakhs.



Kerala has a unique record of harmonious co-existence of diverse religions. The majority of the Malayalees belong to the Hindu Community which has absorbed Budhists and Jains into its fold. According to the latest census Hindus constitute 58 percent of the total population while Christians and Muslims share 21 percent each. The Christians belong broadly to the Orthodox Syrian, Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. The Muslim community have lived in habitual amity with the Hindus.



Kerala has a unicameral legislature the Legislative Assembly having 141 members. Political and administrative developments are not detailed here.  The State is divided into 14 districts, viz. from South to North, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod. They are subdivided for revenue purposes into 63 taluks and 1453 revenue villages. The hilly Idukki District is the largest in size and the coastal district of Alappuzha is the smallest.



Local Bodies in Kerala are empowered to function as local development institutions of self government.  The three tier Panchayat Raj system came into existence in the state on October 2, 1995.  At present there are 978 Grama Panchayats, 152 block panchayats, 14 district panchayats, 60 municipalities and 5 municipal corporations in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur and Kozhikode.  In order to make decentralised planning meaningful and to equip the Panchayat Raj institutions to formulate, implement and monitor development programmes, a peoples' campaign was launched in 1996 throughout the state.  



Kerala is far ahead of other Indian States in the matter of literacy and educational advancement. This is the result of historical factors, such as the socio-religious activities of Christian missionaries and the progressive outlook of some of the ruling princes and administrators of the former Travancore and Cochin states. The level of literacy as per 2011 Census is 93.91 percent, 97.90 percent among males and 91.98 among females. 

There are over 12,644 schools in the state out of which 4504 are Government Schools, 7277  aided schools and 863 unaided schools. Out of the total number of schools, 6817 are Lower Primary Schools, 3037 Upper Primary and 2790 High Schools. Besides there were 587 CBSE schools, 797 ICSE schools, 27 Kendriya Vidyalaya and 14 Jawahar Navodaya vidyalayas in addition to the L.P. and U.P. Sections attached to the U.P. and High Schools. The school enrolment in the state was 42.35 lakhs in 2011. With a teacher strength of 168062 the teacher pupil ratio is 1:27. The pre-degree courses are delinked. At the Higher Secondary level, at present, there are 1907 higher secondary schools of which 760 are government schools, 686 private aided schools and 461 unaided schools.

There are 9 Universities, 2 Deemed Universities and 189 Arts and Science Colleges in the state. Of these 39 are Government Colleges and 150 private aided colleges.  At present there are 389 Vocational Higher Secondary Schools, of which 261 are in the Government Sector and 128 are in the aided sector.   Enrolment of students at the University level excluding unaided colleges stood at 1.82 lakhs out of whom girl students accounted for 69.79 percent. The teaching faculty had a total strength of 8806 in 2011-12. For technical education there are 142 Engineering Colleges(11 Government, 3 Private Aided and 128 Self-financing), 49 polytechnics and 39 technical high schools. The total expenditure on education in 2009-10 amounted to Rs.5767.18 crores.



Kerala has made notable achievements in health care. Kerala's health care system consisits of allopathy, ayurveda and homeopathy.  Three system of medicine together have 2724 institutions in the government sector with 52893 beds in 2011.  There are 74 co-operative Hospitals/Dispensaries with 6767 beds.  There were 24991 Medical and Para-Medical personnel with the Department of Health Services and 1874 with the Medical Education Department. There are 5 Medical Colleges, 3 Dental Colleges, 5 Nursing Colleges and 2 pharmacy colleges under the Medical Education Department.  In the State there were also 119 Ayurveda Hospitals and 30 Homoeopathic Hospitals in the Government sector. Out of the 14 Ayurveda Colleges in the State 3 are in the Government Sector, 2 in the Private Sector and 11 are in the self financing sector. There are 5 Homoeo Medical Colleges in the State, of which 2 are in the Government Sector and 3 in the Private Aided Sector. 



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