Kerala: geography

The geographical situation

Kerala is one of 29 states that make up the Republic of India. Next to the neighboring Tamil Nadu, it is the southernmost part of the country. Located in the southwest strip, it is a very open state to the sea (Arabic), with more than 900 kms. coasts. To the west, the Western Ghats range separates it from Tamil Nadu.  Its geographical characteristics have fostered contact with overseas villages and have provided it with some isolation from other areas of India.

Situación de Kerala en la India

Demographics

Administratively, the state is divided into 14 districts. However, it is desirable to view Kerala as a true “country” (within the Indian Union) and not as a mere region. Demographics are eloquent: in 2017 it exceeded 34.5 million inhabitants. Considering that it is one of the “small” states of India, with just over 38,800 kms.2 (less than communities like Extremadura or Aragon), its population density is very high: 888 h/km2, which makes it one of the densest areas on the planet.

Despite this large megalopolis (the conurbations of Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram, the three largest in the state, narrowly exceed one million inhabitants in Kerala). These are more administrative than non-physical cities. The reason is that, traditionally, the Keralite village is not nucleated, that is, there is not a center from which an urban tissue is distributed, but a network of semi-urban molecules that join together forming a “rural” fabric of extraordinary density.

Landscape and climate

Between the coastal strip (which includes the coast of Malabar) and the Ghats mountain range (with three peaks exceeding 2,600 meters. high) are inclined the slopes dotted with thick rainforest and plantations of tea, coffee or rubber, until reaching the central plains, lined by a maze of rivers, canals (artificial or natural), lagoons and estuaries that we generically call Backwaters. It is a tropical and aquatic underworld of enormous beauty; today one of the most important tourist attractions of the state.

Climatically, Kerala belongs to the classic tropical wetland region (with a minimum annual average of 22o and a maximum annual average of 34o). Unlike other areas of India, Kerala receives two monsoons a year, making it one of the country’s most rainy (and green) regions.