State Capital     Chennai
Population (1991)     55,859,000
Area     130,000 sq. km
Females per 1000 males (1991)     974
Literacy rate (1991)     62.7
Principal Language     Tamil

Sharing boundaries with the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala, Tamil Nadu has an unbroken coast line, edging the Bay of Bengal. Densely forested uplands which abound in wildlife, intensively cultivated [farmlands interspersed with rocky wastes, mountain chains of the Western Ghats which give way to fertile coastal plains and plateaus form the geographical features of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is watered by several perennial rain fed rivers and the 760 kilometer long Cauvery travels the entire breadth of the state.

The history of Tamil Nadu dates back to the time, the Dravidians had moved south, following the advent of Aryans in the north. Historically, South India consisted of four main Dravidian Kingdoms, the Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas (who ruled over what is now Tamil Nadu) and the Chalukyas. The Muslim invasion of the South in the 14th century, caused a retaliatory reaction from the Hindus, who rallied to build a strong new kingdom, with its capital at Vijaynagar. On independence, the Madras province, as the south was known then, was divided on a linguistic basis into states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. A mutual exchange of certain areas between Kerala and Tamil Nadu (Malabar and Kasargod to Kerala; Shencotta and Kanyakumari from Kerala) was undertaken according to the State Reorganisation Act, following which Madras adopted a new name, Tamil Nadu.

Tamilians learn to appreciate culture from a very young age, and have a deep interest in music, dance and literature. Classical dancing in the form of Bharatnatyam, has its origin in the temples of the South East and continues to be followed with a lot of fervour and dedication in Tamil Nadu. Carnatic music is another art form, that has flourished over the ages, producing artists of great repute. Festivals are a daily feature in this region. Navaratri or Dussehra (September/October), Deepavali (October/ November), Karthika (November/December) and Pongal (January ) are the popular ones.

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