Kottayam, a city located in Southern Kerala, is an important trading center and cultural capital. It was the first city in India to achieve 100% literacy, and is locally called the city of Alphabets, due to its high literacy and contribution to literature and local culture. Kerala's biggest print and media houses are located in the city.
The most important activity in Kottayam centres around the wholesale trade of spices and cash crops, especially rubber. The city also has numerous processing plants that sell latex and other rubber products. Kottayam is a popular retail and shopping destination in the area and sees a lot of tourist activity due to it being an access point to the world renowned Kumarakom area and its luxury hotels and spas. The city is also famous for being the Syrian Christian religious capital in India and gets a lot of religious tourists in honour of St. Alphonsa, the first woman to be canonized as a saint by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
Kottayam continues to be a laid back intellectual town that produces multitudes of writers and journalists.