Kochi, formerly known as Cochin, is a city in the Indian state of Kerala. The city is one of the principal seaports of the country and is located in the district of Ernakulam, about 220 kilometres (137 mi) north of the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. It has an estimated population of 600,000, with an extended metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, making it the largest urban agglomeration and the second largest city in Kerala after the capital.
Since 1102 CE, Kochi was the seat of the Kingdom of Cochin, a princely state which traces its lineage to the Kulasekhara empire. Heralded as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi was an important spice trading centre on the Arabian Sea coast from the 14th century onwards. Ancient travellers and tradesmen referred to Kochi in their writings, variously alluding to it as Cocym, Cochym, Cochin, and Cochi. Occupied by the Portuguese in 1503, Kochi was the site of the first European colonial settlement in India. It remained the capital of Portuguese India until 1530, when Goa became the capital. The city was later occupied by the Dutch, the Mysore and the British. Kochi was the first princely state to willingly join the Indian Union, when India gained independence in 1947.
Kochi experienced decades of economic stagnation from independence until 2003, when it entered a period of economic growth, leading to a spurt in the city's development. A growing centre of information technology, tourism and international trade, Kochi is the commercial hub of Kerala, and one of the fastest growing second-tier metros in India. Like other large cities in the developing world, Kochi continues to struggle with urbanisation problems such as traffic congestion and environmental degradation.
Successive waves of migration over the course of several millennia have made Kochi a cultural melting pot. Despite the risk of overdevelopment, the city retains its distinct colonial heritage and a blend of tradition and modernity.