KERALA (or Kēraḷam ,-in Malayalam), popularly known as “Gods’ Own Country”, is a state in India located on the south-west of the country. It was formed on November 1, 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act of India, combining various Malayalam speaking regions like Travancore-Cochin region, Malabar region, and the district of Kasargod.
In the ancient religious writings called Puranas, Kerala is known as Parasurama Kshetram (The Land of Parasurama). Parasurama was a warrior sage and an Avatar of Mahavishnu. The ancient tradition says that he threw his special battle axe into the Arabian sea to beat back the advancing sea to retrieve a stretch of coastal-area between the foothills of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, and thus the land of Kerala rose from the sea waters.
The history of Kerala dates back to ancient period. Rock-engravings in the Edakkal Caves in Wayanad are believed to date from the early to late Neolithic eras around 5000 B.C. The use of a specific Indus script pictogram in the same cave suggests some relationship with the Indus Valley Civilization during the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age.
Kerala is a major exporter of spices as early as 3,000 BC (according to Sumerian records). In the olden times these commodities were shipped from the Malabar coast, and may have landed initially at the Gulf of Aden. Thereafter they were transported to East African trading ports in and around the city known in Grecian-Roman literature as Rhapta. In Roman era, they traveled to Muza in Yemen and finally to Berenice in Egypt. From Egypt they were taken to markets in Europe and West Asia
Kerala’s flora and fauna are very unique and famous. Kerala's fauna are notable for their diversity: 102 species of mammals, 453 species of birds, 202 species of freshwater fishes, 169 species of reptiles and 89 species of amphibians. Much of Kerala's notable biodiversity is concentrated and protected in the Western Ghats. Almost a fourth of India's 10,000 plant species are found in the state. Among the almost 4,000 flowering plant species, 900 species are of medicinal plants.
Kerala is a popular tourist destination for the international and Indian tourists, famous for its backwaters and houseboats, virgin beaches, temples and churches, ayurvedic treatments, tropical greenery, etc. The state has a literacy rate of 94.59 percent, the highest in India. Kerala has the highest Human Development Index in India, comparable with that of the developed countries but with a much lower per capita income. A survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in India.