The production of pepper and natural rubber contributes significantly to the total national output. In the agricultural sector, coconut, tea, coffee, cashew and spices are important. The state's coastline extends for 595 kilometres (370 mi), and around 1.1 million people in the state are dependent on the fishery industry which contributes 3% to the state's income. The state has the highest media exposure in India with newspapers publishing in nine languages, mainly English and Malayalam. Kerala is one of the prominent tourist destinations of India, with backwaters, hill stations, beaches, Ayurvedic tourism and tropical greenery as its major attractions.
The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. One popular theory derives Kerala from Malayali 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 word Kerala is first recorded as Keralaputra in a 3rd-century BCE rock inscription left by the Maurya emperorAshoka (274–237 BCE), one of his edicts pertaining to welfare. The inscription refers to the local ruler as Keralaputra (Sanskrit for 'son of Kerala' or 'son of Chera[s]'). This contradicts the theory that kera is from 'coconut tree'. At that time, one of three states in the region was called Cheralam in Classical Tamil: Chera and Kera are variants of the same word. The word Cheral refers to the oldest known dynasty of Kerala kings and is derived from the Proto-Tamil-Malayalam word for 'lake'.