Kottayam is an important commercial centre of Kerala, India, thanks to its strength as a producer of cash crops. Most of India's natural rubber originates from the acres of well-kept plantations of Kottayam, also home to the Rubber Board, One of the country's primary commodities board. Kottayam, among the state's more mountainous districts, provides some of Kerala's finest natural scenes sandwiched as it is between serene palm-fringed backwaters on the west and the Western ghats on the east.
Kottayam came into limelight when it was declared the first fully literate municipal town of India, an event that triggered a mass movement to make Kerala the country’s only state to achieve total literacy. Kottayam is also the birthplace of the state’s publishing industry, and is home to a number of globally renowned newspapers and magazines including Malayala Manorama (India’s largest circulated daily), The Week, Mathrubhumi, and Deepika
K R Narayanan, the former President of India hails from Kottayam district. Currently Kottayam is represented in the Lok Sabha by Suresh Kurup of CPI M.
Kottayam has a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake, part of the interconnected Kerala Backwaters that run virtually the length of the state. Vembanad Lake is 83.72 km in length and 14.48 km in width. Traditional cargo boats called Kettuvallams are modified into cruise boats and house boats. These boats gracefully move around the back waters, providing facilities to tourist to enjoy the beauty of the Vembanad Lake in a relaxed pace. In the Vembanad Lake there is a small beautiful island called Pathiramanal (the midnight sands). This island is accessible only by boat.