Kerala (Malayalam: കേരളം?; Kēraḷaṁ) is a state located in
southwestern India. Neighbouring states include Karnataka to the north and Tamil
Nadu to the south and east; to the west is the Arabian Sea. Besides the state
capital Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), the other major cities in Kerala are
Kochi (Cochin), Kozhikode (Calicut), Thrissur and Kollam. The principal spoken
language is Malayalam.
A 3rd-century-BC rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great attests to a
Keralaputra. Around 1 BC the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty, which traded
with the Greeks, Romans, and Arabs. In the 1st century AD Jewish immigrants
arrived, and it is believed that St. Thomas the Apostle visited Kerala in the
same century. Feudal Nair and Namboothiri Brahmin city-states subsequently
gained control of the region. Early contact with Europeans gave way to struggles
between colonial and native interests. On 1 November 1956 the States
Reorganisation Act elevated Kerala to statehood.
The state is known for achievements such as near 100% literacy rate, among the
highest in India. A survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International
ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in the country. Kerala is uniquely
dependent on remittances from a large Malayali expatriate community based mainly
in Persian Gulf countries.