Kerala State is situated between 8°18' and 12°48' N latitude and 74°52' and 77°22' E longitude with a geographical area of 38,864 km2. It lies along the coastline, to the extreme south west of the Indian peninsula, flanked by the Lakshadweep Sea on the west and the mountains of the Western Ghats on the east. The land stretches north-south along a coastline of 580 km with a varying width of 35 to 120 km. The nature of the terrain and its physical features, divides an east west cross section of the state into three distinct regions.


The State is characterized by a combination of distinct altitudinal variations resulting from the rise of the land mass from 5 m below sea level in the west to the soaring heights of 2695 m in the East. Three distinct parallel physiographic zones are identified:

  • Low land (below 7.5 m msl)
  • Mid land (between 7.5 m and 75 m msl)
  • High land (above 75 m msl)

Out of the total geographical area of the state, 10.2 % constitutes low land regions, 41.8 % mid land regions and 48 % high land regions. The coastal low land is identified with alluvial plains, sandy stretches, abraded platforms, beach ridges, raised beaches, lagoons and estuaries. Extensive paddy fields, thick groves of coconut trees and backwaters, interconnected with canals and rivers, are the features of this region.

Kuttanad and Kole lands lying in this region are located below the sea level. In the mid land plains of central region, the hills are not very steep and the valleys are wide. This forms an area of gently undulating topography with hillocks and mounds. Laterite capping is commonly noticeable on the top of these hillocks. The valleys have been developed as paddy fields or elas of Kerala with stream flowing through the valleys.

The ribbon valleys of the laterite terrain represents the elas of the mid lands where rice is the dominant crop. The adjoining hill slopes have plantations of rubber, fruit trees and other cash crops like pepper, arecanut and tapioca. The high lands include the steeply sloping areas of the western ghats and are mainly under forest. Tea, coffee and cardamom plantations are also located in these areas.

There are 44 rivers in the state, of which 41 originate from the Western Ghats and flow towards west into the Lakshadweep Sea . Only three tributaries of the river Cauvery originate in Kerala and flow east into the neighbouring States. These rivers and streams flowing down from the Western Ghats either empty themselves in to the backwaters in the coastal area or directly into the Lakshadweep Sea.


Geologically Kerala has four major rock formations namely crystalline rocks of Precambrian age, sedimentary rocks of Tertiary, laterites capping crystalline and sedimentary rocks and recent and sub recent sediments forming the low lying areas and river valleys. The varied rock formations under different geological domains harbor different mineral deposits and the transformed rock strata have copious ground water resources.


Located in the humid tropics with high rainfall distributed in to 2 monsoon seasons, viz. South west monsoon (June to September) and North east monsoon (October to November) of which South west monsoon is more predominant. About 85% of the annual rainfall receives during the monsoon period between June and November (70% during South west and 15% during the North east monsoon) and the remaining 15% only during the non-monsoon period between December and May as summer showers
The rainfall received in the state from 2007 to 2016 is presented in Figure 1. During this period the highest rainfall (3527 mm) was recorded in 2007. The mean annual rainfall for the last 10 years (2007-2016) is 2790 mm. However, in 2016 the annual rainfall was only 1885 mm.

Annual rainfall (mm)- Kerala State
District wise annual rainfall

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