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The region had been a prominent spice exporter since 3000 BCE.
The region's prominence in trade was noted in the works of Pliny as well as the Periplus around 100 CE.
The Cheras had trading links with China, West Asia, Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire.
contemporary Sangam literature describes Roman ships coming to Muziris in Kerala, laden with gold to exchange for pepper.
According to Hindu mythology, the lands of Kerala were recovered from the sea by the axe-wielding warrior sage Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu (hence, Kerala is also called Parasurama Kshetram ("The Land of Parasurama") The land which rose from sea was filled with salt and unsuitable for habitation; so Parasurama invoked the Snake King Vasuki, who spat holy poison and converted the soil into fertile lush green land.
The state's coastline extends for 595 kilometres (370 mi), and around 1.1 million people in the state are dependent on the fishery industry which contributes 3% to the state's income.
Arabs also had trade links with Kerala, starting before the 4th century BCE, as Herodotus (484–413 BCE) noted that goods brought by Arabs from Kerala were sold to the Israelis [Hebrew (Jews)] at Eden.
In the 4th century, some Christians also migrated from Persia and joined the early Syrian Christian community who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.
The legend was later expanded, and found literary expression in the 17th or 18th century with Keralolpathi, which traces the origin of aspects of early Kerala society, such as land tenure and administration, to the story of Parasurama.
Another much earlier Puranic character associated with Kerala is Mahabali, an Asura and a prototypical just king, who ruled the earth from Kerala.