The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. One folk etymology derives Kerala from the Malayalam word kera ‘coconut tree’ and alam ‘land’; thus, ‘land of coconuts’, which is a nickname for the state used by locals due to the abundance of coconut trees.
The state has a coast of 590 km (370 mi) and the width of the state varies between 11 and 121 kilometres (7 and 75 mi). Geographically, Kerala can be divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands; rugged and cool mountainous terrain, the central mid-lands; rolling hills, and the western lowlands; coastal plains. Pre-Cambrian and Pleistocene geological formations compose the bulk of Kerala’s terrain