The history of Kerala, India, dates back many millennia. Stone Age carvings in the Edakkal Caves feature pictorial writings believed to date to at least the Neolithic era around 5,000 BC, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilisation or settlement in this region. From as early as 3000 BC, Chera nadu, currently known as Kerala had established itself as a major spice trade centre. Keralam, the then Chera nadu had direct contact across the Arabian Sea with all the major Mediterranean and Red Sea ports as well those of the Far East. The spice trade between Kerala and much of the world was one of the main drivers of the world economy. For much of history, ports in Kerala were the busiest (Muziris) among all trade and travel routes in the history of the world.
The word Kerala is first recorded (as Keralaputra) in a 3rd-century BC rock inscription left by the Maurya emperor Ashoka (274–237 BC). The Land of Keralaputra was one of the five independent kingdoms in southern India during Ashoka’s time, the others being Chola, Pandya, Tamiraparani and Satiyaputra.A 3rd century CE, Brahmi inscription, found on Edakal cave, Ambukuthi hill, contained the word ‘Chera’ (‘kadummipudha chera’), the earliest inscriptional evidence of the dynasty Chera. The Cheras collapsed after repeated attacks from the neighboring Chola Empire and Rashtrakuta Empire. In the 8th century, Adi Shankara was born at Kalady in central Kerala. He travelled extensively across the Indian subcontinent establishing institutions of Advaita Vedanta philosophy.
Contact with Europeans after the arrival of Vasco Da Gama in 1498 gave rise to struggles between colonial and native interests. The state of Keralam was created in 1956 from the former state of Travancore-Cochin, the Malabar district of Madras State, and the Kasaragod taluk of Dakshina Kannada.