The total geographical area and population of Wayanad are 2,126 sq.kms, (2,12,560 hects) and 672128 respectively, which account for 5.48 percent and 2.31 percent of the state total. The male and female populations are 3,41,958 and 3,30,170 respectively. The female-male sex ratio is 966 per 1000 males. The density of population is 315 per sq. km. (1991 census) against 260 in 1981, showing an increase of 21 percent.
The literacy rate in the region is 70.61 percent. Male literates are 2,55,679 and females are 2,18,933.
Its geographical position is peculiar and unique. The difference in altitudes of each locality within the district presents a variation of climatic conditions. Nature has blessed this part of the country beautifully with mist- clad mountains and sylvan valleys. The idyllic nature of Wayanad, its nearness to Udagamandalam (Ooty) and Mysore with well-laid roads to these centres, offer tremendous tourist potentialities.
A visitor may be impressed by the extensive paddy fields of the district. Agriculture in Wayanad is equally divided between paddy and plantation crops, except coconut. The hills, which are deep blue in bright sunlight and lie mist-covered most of the time, juxtaposes with the green of these paddy fields. This in fact is a splendid spectacle.
The east flowing rivers of Wayanad are in striking contrast to the various rivers of the resty of Kerala. The river Kabani of Wayanad is a perennial source of water to Cauvery. The Panamaram rivulet, originating from Lakkidi and Mananthavady rivulet originating from Thondarmudi Peak, meet six kilometers north of Panamaram town and after the confluence, the river is known as Kabani.
Coffee is ubiquitous in Wayanad. It is cultivated in every panchayats, both in the form of large plantations and smallholdings. The economy of Wayanad depends mainly on coffee. In Kerala coffee is cultivated in an area of 75,057 hects. With Wayanad district having the highest area of 66,999 hectares. Pepper is grown as an additional crop on trees that are groomed to give shade to the coffee shrubs. In Pulpally area, there are exclusive pepper gardens. Tea is cultivated in large estates.
Wayanad has the highest concentration of tribals in Kerala. They form 17.1 % of the total population of the district. The aborigin4s of Wayanad have a great political tradition. This area was originally reigned by the Rajahs of the Veda tribe. Later political authority came to the Pazhassi Rajahs of Kottayam royal dynasty.
The Kurichyas of Wayanad have a great martial tradition. They constituted the army of Pazhassi Veera Kerala Varma Rajah who engaged the British forces in several battles. The descendants of those warriors are still expert archers. The excellence of Kurichya archery has been exhibited recently, at various centres.
Wayanad has an agricultural economy and it has no major industry to boast of. Heavy industry will probably tilt the ecological and demographic balance adversely. The idyllic nature of this district, together with its colourful tribal life and brazing climate, will make tourism pay rich dividends.
Developmental activities are bringing about a change in the poor man’s quality of life. Through the co-operative sector, Asdivasis are provided with a better deal in the economic life. There are 324 co-operative institutions. Of this 40 SC-ST service co-operative socirties cater to their farm and market requirements. Besides there are three co-operative collective farms incluiding the famous Sugandhagiri Project. A labour contract co-operative society for the benefit of Adivasis is also functioning here.
A notable feature of life in Wayanad is that it is touched to its very roots by the operation of the nationalized, commercial and co-operative banks. The branches of these banks located in the remote areas of the district have a busy time during the marketing time of cash crops.
“Nobody ever choked through swallowing pride.”