The district has the same name as its headquarters city, Thiruvananthapuram.
The city gets its name from the word "Thiru-anantha-puram", meaning the "Abode of Lord Anantha." The name derives from the deity of the Hindu temple at the center of the Thiruvananthapuram city. Anantha is the serpent Shesha on whom Padmanabhan or Vishnu reclines. The district was officially referred to as Trivandrum in English until 1991, when the government decided to reinstate the city's original name, Thiruvananthapuram, in all languages.
Thiruvananthapuram city and several other places in the district loom large in ancient tradition, folklore and literature.
In 1684, during the regency of Umayamma Rani, the English East India Company obtained a sandy spit of land at Anchuthengu near Varkala on the sea coast about 32 kilometres (20 mi) north of Thiruvananthapuram city, with a view to erecting a factory and fortifying it. The place had earlier been frequented by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch. It was from here that the English gradually extended their domain to other parts of Travancore.
Modern history begins with Marthanda Varma, 1729 CE–1758 CE, who is generally regarded as the Father of modern Travancore. Thiruvananthapuram was known as a great center of intellectual and artistic activities in those days.
The temple of Vishnu reclining on Anantha, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, which dates back to the 16th century, is the most-recognizable iconic landmark of the city as well as the district. Along with the presiding deity of Padmanabha, this temple has temples inside it, dedicated to Lord Krishna, Lord Narasimha, Lord Ganesha, and Lord Ayyappa. The temple was built by King Marthanda Varma of the Travancore royal family when, in 1745, he shifted the Travancore capital from Padmanabhapuram, which is now in Tamil Nadu. King Marthanda Varma started reigning as 'Sree Padmanabhadasa', the Slave of Sree Padmanabha. The vast temple complex, with its tall Gopuram decorated with detailed carvings reflected in the huge temple tank, is today a center of attraction for the pious, the tourist, and the merely curious.
The city was the capital of the Travancore state before India's independence. Consequent to the recommendations of the state Reorganization Commission, the Vilavancode taluk from Thiruvananthapuram was merged with Tamil Nadu, along with three other southern taluks of Thovala, Agastheewaram and Kalkulam from Travancore which eventually formed the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. The state of Kerala came into being on 1 November 1956.
The district is situated between North latitudes at 8.17°–8.54° and East longitudes 76.41°–77.17°. The southern-most extremity, Parassala, is just 54 kilometres (34 mi) away from the southern peninsular tip of India, Cape Comorin (Kanya Kumari). The district stretches 78 kilometres (48 mi) along the shores of the Arabian Sea on the west, Kollam district lies on the north with Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu on the east and south respectively.
The climate of Thiruvananthapuram district is generally hot tropical. The large forest reserves favourably affect the climate and induce rains. Cold weather is experienced in the mountain ranges, whereas lower down, the weather is bracing and is generally hot in the coastal regions. The mean maximum temperature is 95 °F (35 °C) and the mean minimum temperature is 69 °F (20 °C). As the district stretches from north to south with the Arabian Sea in the west side, the relative humidity is generally high. It rises up to about 95% during the South-West monsoon.
The total annual average rainfall in the district is about 1,500 mm (59 in) per annum. The southwest monsoon, from June to September is the principal rainy season. The district receives most of its annual rainfall in this season. The second rainy season is the Northeast monsoon. It is from October to November.
The district also gets thunderstorm rains in the pre-monsoon months of April and May.
December to February are the coolest months. The average temperature goes down to 69 °F (20 °C) in these months. It is generally considered as the winter season. The summer season starts in February and continues until May. The average temperature goes up to 95 °F (35 °C) in these months.
The economy of Thiruvananthapuram district mostly consists of tourism and leisure, information technology, agriculture and education. The modern economy of Thiruvananthapuram is dependent on the media and IT sector. India's first animation park, The Kinfra Animation Park, is in the district.
In Thiruvananthapuram district there are 2 central-sector, 14 state-sector, 1 co-operative-sector, 4 joint-sector and 60 private-sector medium- and large-scale industries. The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) units employ 9262 people, with an investment of Rs. 3439.4 million (as of 31 March 2003). In 2002 there were 901 registered working factories. They include oil mills, cashew factories, cotton textiles, saw mills, printing units, rubber industrial units, chemical units, match factories, general engineering units and automobile workshops. The S.M.S.M. Institute in Thiruvananthapuram is a major institution through which the products of the handicraft industries are marketed.
The Neyyar Irrigation Project, commissioned in 1959, irrigates an area of 116.65 km2 (45.0 sq mi). Neyyar is the source of water for the reservoir. The length of the dam is 294.13 metres (965.0 ft) and the height is 50.6 m (166.0 ft). The catchment draining into the reservoir, covering an area of 140 km2 (54 sq mi) of forest land, receives an annual average rainfall of about 2,260 mm (90 in) 2260 mm from two monsoons. The total length of the main canal and its branches is 266 km (165 mi).
The headquarters of the district administration is at Vanchiyoor, Thiruvananthapuram. The district administration is headed by the District collector. He is assisted by five deputy collectors holding charges of general matters, land acquisition, revenue recovery, land reforms and election.
There are six taluks: Neyyattinkara,Thiruvananthapuram, Nedumangad, Chirayinkeezhu, Varkala and Kattakkada, each headed by a Tahsildar. There are two parliamentary constituencies in the district. They are Attingal with constituency number 19, and Thiruvananthapuram, with constituency number 20.
The National Highway 66 (earlier known as National Highway 47) stretches from Kaliyikkavila at the southern extremity to Navaikulam near Parippally in the north, covering a distance of 80 km (50 mi) within the district. The MC Road covers a distance of 55 km (34 mi) and passes through Kesavadaspuram, Vembayam, Venjaramoodu, Kilimanoor and Nilamel in the north. PWD maintains about 1,552 km (964 mi) of road in the district. Local bodies maintain 9,500 km (5,900 mi) of road. There are 116 bridges in Thiruvananthapuram District.
The rail transport in the district is operated by Southern Railway zone of Indian Railways. Thiruvananthapuram is connected to the rest of the country by broad gauge railway line. eighty-two km (51 mi) of railway line passes through the district. There are currently 20 railway stations are in the district, including the Thiruvananthapuram Central station. Services are being operated by domestic and international airlines from the Trivandrum International Airport. Trivandrum International Airport has direct flights to many international cities like Kuwait, Dubai, Dammam, Singapore, Malé, Colombo, Sharjah, Muscat, Bahrain, Doha, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi. It is linked with Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkatta by domestic flights.
According to the 2011 census Thiruvananthapuram district has a population of 3,307,284, roughly equal to the nation of Uruguay or the US state of Connecticut. This gives it a ranking of 103rd in India (out of a total of 640 districts). The district has a population density of 1,509 inhabitants per square kilometre (3,910/sq mi). Its population growth rate over the decade 2001–2011 was 2.25%. Thiruvananthapuram has a sex ratio of 1088 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 92.66%.
Malayalam is the mother tongue. Thiruvananthapuram city is more cosmopolitan, with people speaking languages like Malayalam, English, Tamil, Hindi, Tulu, and a minor percentage speak Gujarati.
Hindus (68.09%) constitute the majority of the population, followed by Christians (18.41%) and Muslims (12.52%). The Hindu community lies grouped on the basis of castes and sub-castes as elsewhere in the state. The Brahmins, Nadars, Ezhavas, Nairs, Viswakarma, scheduled castes and 11 tribes form the majority of the Hindu community. Christians belong mainly to the Latin Catholic Church, the Church of South India and the Syriac Orthodox Church. The Muslim community also forms a major division of the total population.
Economic, social and other ties bind the members of religious groups at the local level. People live in peace and amity, influencing and being influenced by the culture of one another.
More than 50% of the total population depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Agricultural labourers constitute 42% of the total labour class. Most of the people are engaged in low-remunerative pursuits which require very little capital. Political and social consciousness, coupled with the efforts of the social, religious and cultural leaders, have helped to pull down the age-old feudal order. Economic changes have also affected the social life and attitude of the people.
Thiruvananthapuram witnessed a cultural renaissance in the twentieth century. Kerala Varma Valiakoi Thampuran (1845–1914), who spent a major part of his life in Thiruvananthapuram, translated Kalidasa's Abhijñānaśākuntalam into Malayalam which won him the title of Kerala Kalidasa. He is regarded as the father of modern Malayalam prose.
A strong film culture prevails in the district. The city is home to animation companies, including Toonz India Ltd and Tata Elxsi Ltd. The Kinfra Film and Video Park is near Technopark and is an advanced film and animation production facility. The Malayalam film industry was earlier based in Chennai (Madras). It slowly started moving to get rooted in Thiruvananthapuram towards the end of the 1970s. Other major events include the annual flower show in Thiruvananthapuram city, the Attukal Pongala, Varkala Sivagiri pilgrimage in December, the Kaalioottu in Sarkara Devi Temple, near Chirayinkeezh, the Navarathri festival at the Poojamandapam near Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the Aaraat of Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the Beemapally Uroos, Vettucaud Perunaal etc.
The district has a rich variety of plants ranging from rare orchids, medicinal plants and spices to hedge plants, tuber crops, plants yielding edible fruits and fibre. Aromatic plants and spices such as pepper and ginger are cultivated on a large scale on the hilly tracts. Nedumangad taluka is one of the biggest centres of cultivation and trade of pepper and other hill produce. A major portion of the district comes under the middle plain and the region is under the cultivation of coconut, rice, tapioca, tuber crops, plantains and vegetabless.
The forests of the district abound in a variety of animals and birds and are excellent wildlife habitats. Elephants, bison, monkeys and rare species of reptiles have the place of prominence in them. The Neyyar reservoir and nearby areas abound in wild life. Nestled in the lap of the Western Ghats, a wildlife sanctuary is quickly growing over an area of nearly 777 square kilometres (300 sq mi) around this reservoir. The forest under the Kulathupuzha range is the habitat of rare species of snakes and lizards. Mammals are well represented in the district. Nilgiri langur, the lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri brown mongoose and the Malabar civet are characteristic to this region. Carnivores include: tiger, wild cat, jackal, leopard and wild dog. Sloth bear, gaur, a few species of deer and elephants are also seen. Reptiles include snakes, lizards, crocodiles and tortoises. There are about 75–80 species of snakes in this area. Some of them are very poisonous.
Tourism has contributed heavily to the economy of Thiruvananthapuram. The entire tourism package such as hill stations, back waters, beaches, lagoons, and wildlife sanctuaries are present in the district.
Foreign tourists flock to Thiruvananthapuram, a major destination for chartered flights to India for medical tourism, as there are more than fifty recognised Ayurveda centres in and around the city. This is primarily due to Ayurveda's immense popularity in the West. Medical tourism is further promoted by world-class modern medicine hospitals in the city. Recuperation facilities are available at five-star beach resorts and hill stations nearby.
Thiruvananthapuram district is a major academic hub. The University of Kerala is in Thiruvananthapuram city. There are 20 arts and sciences colleges in the district, and the strength of students is estimated to be 15,926. The University of Kerala has its research and higher-education centres at Kariavattom.
Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, the premier health institute of the state is one of the finest in the country. It is being upgraded to the status of an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram and Government Engineering College, Bartonhill are the two main engineering colleges in Thiruvananthapuram.
The schools in the district are classified as Government, Aided, or Unaided schools. There are 1,129 schools in the district.The government schools are run directly by the state government and follow the syllabus prescribed by the state government.The aided schools follow the state syllabus. In addition to this, there are four Kendriya Vidyalayas run directly by the Central government, which follow the CBSE syllabus.Private schools run by education trusts or boards follow CBSE and/or ICSE syllabus and/or NIOS and/or state syllabi. The first international school in Kerala, the Trivandrum International School, was started in August 2003.
Thiruvananthapuram has long been a center of media in India. Kerala Chandrika, the first newspaper of the state, was published from Thiruvananthapuram in 1789. Now, more than 30 newspapers have been published from the district, including The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Deccan Chronicle , The Times of India, Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhoomi, Kerala Kaumudi, Desabhimani, Deepika, Madhyamam, Chandrika, Thejas, Siraj, Janmabhoomi and Metro Vaartha.
Weeklies, fortnightlies, monthlies, bi-monthlies and quarterlies are published from parts of the district. The Kerala Information and Public Relations Department is the main agency of the government to disseminate information to the public and to provide feedback.
Most Malayalam TV channels are based in Thiruvananthapuram. The government-owned Doordarshan began broadcasting from here in 1981. Asianet, the first private Malayalam channel, began its telecasts in 1991 from Thiruvananthapuram.
There are many radio stations in the district. Most of them broadcast from Thiruvananthapuram city. All India Radio has an AM (1161 MHz), an FM (Ananthapuri FM; 101.9 MHz) and a SW ( various frequencies ) station in the city. FM radio channels broadcast from Thiruvananthapuram are [[All India Radio#South regional service|Gyanvani 105.6 MHz,IGNOUAnanthapuri FM]] (AIR) 101.9 MHz, Big FM 92.7 MHz, Club FM 94.3 MHz, Radio Mirchi 98.3 MHz, Red FM 93.5 MHz and Radio DC 90.4 MHz. The Radio DC broadcasts at low-power CRS. The channel is only available at a 15-kilometre (9 mi) radius around the broadcasting station.
The wireline telephone services are provided by BSNL, Reliance and Tata Indicom. The main GSM networks operating in the district are BSNL CellOne, Airtel, Tata Docomo, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, Reliance, and Virgin Mobile. The main CDMA providers are Reliance, MTS and Tata Indicom. Major broadband internet services are provided by BSNL DataOne, Asianet Dataline and Siti Cable.
The most popular games in the district are football and cricket. Basketball, badminton and volleyball are also popular, mostly in schools.
The Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) is headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram City. The Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium, in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram, is a prominent football stadium and has hosted both national and international-level matches. The University Stadium has hosted two international cricket matches. This stadium is under the University of Kerala and is equipped with synthetic tracks for athletics games. The Central Stadium has facilities for athletics, football, basketball, volleyball and cricket practice nets. The Jimmy George Sports Complex, is another major sports establishment in the district.The Kariavattom Outdoor Stadium, is one of the largest international stadium which can use for both cricket & football.
There are 12 development blocks in the district: Parassala, Perumkadavila, Athiyanoor, Nemom, Thiruvananthapuram Rural, Kazhakuttom, Vellanad, Nedumangad, Vamanapuram, Kilimanoor, Chirayinkeezhu and Varkala. The District Rural Development Agency co-ordinates the work in these blocks. Several welfare schemes are carried out in the blocks, such as Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY), Total Sanitation Scheme (TSS), Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), Prime Minister's Grama Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Indira Awaaz Yojana (IAY), etc.
There are a number of villages in the district, including Kaduvakuzhy, 16 km from the state capital.