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Location And Physiography

Kerala is a narrow strip of the south western part of Peninsular India in the monsoon tropical region. She lies 80 15'N to 120 45'N and 750 52’ E to 770 08'E. The middle part is 130 km wide and narrows down towards the north and south to about 30 km. The coast line is 550 Kilometer long. The area is 38,855 sq. Kms and is just about 1% of the total area of India. On the western side is the Arabian sea and on the eastern side is the Western Ghats. The Western Ghats is a long chain of forested mountains and ranges in height from 3000 to 8000 feet. The highest peak is Anamudi in the Idukki District with a height of 8,841 feet. Only the Palakkad pass at the centre and the Aramboly pass near the cape provide natural openings to the eastern side. The Palakkad pass plays an important part in bringing the south west monsoon.

The vast expanse of Arabian Sea, even when being a barrier , has adequately compensated by bringing maritime relations with the rest of the world from time immemorial. The windows are a series of natural ports. The oldest and most important of them was Muziris, the present day Kodungalloor. It has acted as the gateway to the ancient South India through which different people and cultures have come to its shores. The great religions of the world namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam came to Kerala by this port. Kozhikode, Kochi, Kollam etc have also been important ports from time to time.

The abundance of rain has resulted in a rich system of rivers. Altogether there are 44 rivers. So many rivers in so small an area is a rarity. All of them spring from the Western Ghats. Of these, 41 flow west ward and the rest east ward. Bharathappuzha is the longest river (237 km). The rivers of Kerala have greatly influenced its history, culture and economy. Most of the ports are the creation of these rivers. The ancient port of Muziris was in the mouth of River Periyar. The great flood of 1341 AD in Periyar distroyed this port and simultaniously opened the port at Kochi. The hydro-electric projects like Idukki, Pallivasal and Sabarigiri have gone a long way both in the development of agriculture and industries.

The topography of the state presents astonishing variations. Geographically the state can be divided length wise into 3 natural divisions: 1)The lowland. (2) Midland and (3) High land.

The low land is the coastal planes of sandy soil. Here is the chain of back waters and lagoons of Kerala fringed with coconut palms. The extensive, 'Karippadams' (large paddy fields of Kuttanad where kari, (charcoal) comes up when tilled) are seen in this division. The midland is largely laterite. The terrain is uneven and rolls up into low hills with broad vallies. Here are the laxuriant farm lands of cocunut, arecanut, pepper, rubber and other plantations interspersed with lush paddy fields. The high land is the Western Ghats or high ranges. From the series of mountain peaks and ridges it slowly folds down to merge with the midlands. The once continuous tropical rain forests of Western Ghats have been cleared here and there for tea, coffee and other plantations. On the eastern side the western ghats precipitously falls down thousands of feet into the flatness of Tamil Nadu.