Kannur District is one of the 14 districts in the state of Kerala, India. The town of Kannur is the district headquarters and gives the district its name. The old name Cannanore is the anglicised form of the Malayalam name Kannur. Kannur district is bounded by Kasaragod District to the north, Kozhikode district to the south and Wayanad District to the southeast. To the east the district is bounded by the Western Ghats, which forms the border with the state of Karnataka (Kodagu district). The Arabian Sea lies to the west. The district was established in 1957.

Kannur is the sixth most urbanized district in Kerala, with more than 50% of its residents living in urban areas. Kannur has an urban population of 1,212,898, which is the second largest in Kerala after Ernakulam district.

Kannur District is known as the land of looms and lores, because of the loom industries and ritualistic festivals held here in temples. The district is a major centre of Theyyam, a ritual dance of northern Kerala. Small shrines known as kavus associated with the Theyyam dot the district.

The proposed Kannur International Airport will be the fourth international airport in Kerala and is situated 26-km away from Kannur.

There are many myths and legends associated with the name Kannur. It is said to be a portmanteau derived from two Malayalam words, ‘Kannan’ (Krishna, a Hindu deity), and ‘Ur’ (place), making it the place of Lord Krishna. One theory supporting this theory is that the deity of the Kadalayi Srikrishna Temple was originally installed in a shrine at Kadalayi Kotta in the southeastern part of the present Kannur town. During the British Raj, the city was known as Cannanore, the Portuguese version of its ancient name, ‘Kannanore’.

One more major legend is that ‘Cannanore’ is derived from the Arabic words of ‘Qanan al Noor’ (Ruling ‘area under the light of Quran’).It was the capital of the one and only Muslim kingdom, Arakkal Sulthanate, in the state of Kerala.

Kannur was an important trading center in the 12th century with active business connections with Persia and Arabia. It served as the British military headquarters on India’s west coast until 1887. In conjunction with her sister city, Tellicherry, it was the third largest city on the western coast of British India in the 18th century after Bombay and Karachi. St. Angelo Fort was built in 1505 by Dom Francisco de Almeida, the first Portuguese Viceroy of India. The British conquered it in 1790 and used it as one of their major military stations on the Malabar Coast. During the 17th century, Kannur was the capital city of the only Muslim Sultanate in India, known as Arakkal.During the British Raj, Kannur was part of the Madras province in the North Malabar District.

The guerrilla war by Pazhassi Raja, the ruler of Kottayam province, against the British had a huge impact in the history of Kannur. Changes in the socio-economic and political sectors in Kerala during the initial decades of 20th century created conditions congenial for the growth of the Communist Party. Extension of English education initiated by Christian missionaries in 1906 and later carried forward by government, rebellion for wearing a cloth to cover upper parts of body, installing an idol at Aruvippuram in 1888, Malayali Memorial in 1891, establishment of SNDP Yogam in 1903, activities, struggles etc. became factors helpful to accelerate changes in Kerala society during a short time. Movements for liberation from the colonial rule of British imperialism and struggles launched by these movements grew with them.

Very soon, ideas about socialism and Soviet Revolution reached Kerala. Such ideas got propagated in Kerala through the works of Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, Sahodaran Ayyappan, P. Kesavadev and others.By the beginning of the 1930s some other useful developments were taking place. Important among them was Nivarthana Agitation in Travancore. That was the demand of people suppressed so far as untouchables and weaker sections for participation in government. This brought to the forefront struggles like proportional representation in government and reservation of jobs. This imparted a new enthusiasm among oppressed masses.

A majority of the population of the district is dependent directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihood. The main crops grown in the district are paddy, coconut, pepper, cashew, tapioca, arecanut and plantation crops like rubber. Asia’s largest cinnamon estate producing cinnamon spice established by Lord Brown of British East India company in the year CE 1767 is located at Anjarakandy in Kannur district.

Paddy occupies the largest area among annual crops. Under the high yielding variety programme, substantial increase in paddy production has been achieved, even though the percentage of area sown under paddy is decreasing year after year, due to conversion of paddy fields to other purposes. The average yield of paddy is recorded as 2146 kg. per hectare. Next to paddy, coconut is the most important crop in the district. Coconut is extensively grown throughout the district. An important cash crop grown in the district is cashewnut. The district plays a unique role in its cultivation and production. The vast stretches of suitable waste lands with low fertility status extends scope for expansion of cashew cultivation and its allied industries.

Among spices, pepper occupies an important place. Pepper is mostly grown as an intercrop with coconut, arecanut and fruit trees. In the hilly areas of the district, the inter-cultivation is done with rubber and cashew. Rubber is the most important industrial cash crop among the plantation crops.

About 55% of the rubber cultivation of Kannur district is in Iritty taluk, followed by Thaliparamba, Thalassery and Kannur taluks. The yield of rubber per hectare varies from 2000 kg to 4000 kg.

Kannur city is easily accessible from any part of India by rail, road and through water. An international airport is currently under construction and is expected to be operational by 2017.

The West Coast road from Mahe to Talapady is the backbone of the road system in Kannur district. This is part of the National Highway NH-66 (formerly NH-17). Kannur–Mattannur–Iritty Road, Pappinisseri–Pilathara Road, Taliparamba–Sreekandapuram Road,Thalassery-Nedumpoil-Mananthavady Road, Payyannur–Peringome (Kozhichal) Road, Thalassery–Kodagu road and the Thalassery–Mysore road are the other important roads. The airports at Mangalore in Karnataka and Kozhikode are about 125 kilometres away from Kannur. Kannur Airport is coming up at Mattannur and expected to be completed by the 2017.

Thalassery (Tellicherry), Kannur and Azhikkal are the minor ports in the district. Kannur is an ancient port. The nearest all-weather sea port is Mangalore, presently in Karnataka State. The inland water transport system connecting Perumba and Taliparamba was constructed in 1766 by the Ali Raja of Kannur. This the 3.8 km long Sultan’s Canal. The west flowing rivers are used for navigation. The Kuppam river has 244 km of navigable length; Valappattanam, 55 km and Anjarakandi, 23 km.

According to the 2011 census Kannur district has a population of 2,525,637, roughly equal to the nation of Kuwait or the US state of Nevada.This gives it a ranking of 170th in India (out of a total of 640).The district has a population density of 852 inhabitants per square kilometre (2,210/sq mi).Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 4.84%.Kannur has a sex ratio of 1133 females for every 1000 males, the highest among any district in India, and a literacy rate of 95.41%.