The complete geography of Kerala
Neighbours: Kerala is bordered by land on three sides and by the Arabian sea at the west. It shares its border with the state of Karnataka at the north and the rest of Kerala shares it border with Tamil Nadu. In fact, almost the whole of the western and southern frontiers of Kerala is surrounded by Tamil Nadu.
Physiography: Kerala is divided into three geographical regions-
The Highlands slope down from the Western Ghats (also known as the Sahyadri) which rise to an average height of 900m, with a number of peaks well over 1800 m in height. It is 18650 sq.km in area and accounts for 48 percent of the total land area of Kerala.
This is the area of major plantations like tea, coffee, rubber and various spices. This area is often known as the Cardamom Hills. This region is one of the largest producers of many spices especially cardamom from which it earns its name. Anaimudi(2694 meters), the highest peak in India after the Himalayas, is in the Munnar division of the Western Ghats. Most of the rivers of Kerala originate from the Western Ghats.
The Midlands, lying between the mountains and the lowlands, is made up of undulating hills and valleys. It is 16200 sq.km in area ie, about 40 percent of the total land area. This is an area of intensive cultivation. Cashew, coconut, arecanut, tapioca, banana and vegetables of different varieties are grown in this area.
Lowlands are also known as the Coastal Area. It covers an area of almost 4000 sq.km. It is made up of numerous shallow lagoons known locally as kayels, river deltas, backwaters and shores of the Arabian sea and is essentially a land of coconuts and rice. This area is very fertile and most of the paddy cultivation is along this area. Kuttanad region of Kerala is one of the very few places in India where cultivation is done below sea level. Water is the main mode of transportation in these areas.
Rivers, Lakes and Backwaters of Kerala: Though small in size, Kerala is a land affluent in water sources. 44 rivers water the land, of which 41 are west flowing and 3 flow east. Apart from these 44 main rivers, their tributaries and distributaries and a countless number of streams and rivulets crisscross the land making it green and fertile and also serves as inland waterways. Aside from these rivers, Kerala is bestowed with a number of lakes and backwater lagoon which add to the beauty of the land. Vembanadu lake with a area of 260 sq.km is the largest in the state. Shastamkotta lake is the largest natural fresh water lake.
Forest: Kerala has a total forest area of 11,125.59 sq.kms including 7 Wild life Sanctuaries, covering 28.88 percent of the total land area of Kerala. This is greater than the national average of 19.50. Its forest area is mainly spread over the Western Ghats. Kerala's forest can be divided into 5 major categories, viz. Tropical Wet Evergreen Forests , Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests, Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests, Mountain Sub Tropical and Plantations. Read more
Flora and Fauna: The Western Ghats represent one of the World's 18 hot spots of bio-diversity and is considered to be a repository of endemic, rare and endangered flora and fauna. The state's riverine and montane rain forests, tropical deciduous forests, and upland temperate grasslands are inhabited by an extraordinary variety of plant and animal life which include the sambar deer, gaur (wild bison), Nilgiri tahr, elephant, leopard, tiger, bonnet monkey, the rare lion-tailed macaque, the Hanuman and Nilgiri langurs, spectacled and king cobras, peafowl, and hornbill. Kerala houses over 25% of India's 15,000 plant species.
Climate: Although Kerala lies close to the equator, its proximity with the sea and the presence of the fort like Western Ghats, provides it with an equable climate which varies little from season to season. The temperature varies from 27Â° to 32Â° C. Southwest Monsoon and Retreating Monsoon ( Northeast Monsoon ) are the main rainy seasons. Kerala receives an average rainfall of 118 inches (3,000 millimeters) annually.
Mineral Resources: Kerala's costal area is rich in many mineral ores which include ilmenite, rutile, monazite, zirconium, magnetite etc. It also produce other minerals like graphite, silica, iron ore, bauxite and clay. Read more