Karnatakan pre-history goes back to a paleolithic hand-axe culture evidenced by discoveries of, among other things, hand axes and cleavers in the region. Evidence of neolithic and megalithic cultures have also been found in the state. Gold discovered in Harappa was found to be imported from mines in Karnataka, prompting scholars to hypothesize about contacts between ancient Karnataka and the Indus Valley Civilization ca. 3000 BCE.
The various dynasties and kings are ruled the State of Karnataka, from the Kadambas, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara empire, Bahmani Sultans, Bijapur Sultans, Mysore Kingdom, to the Tippu Sultan.
As the “doctrine of lapse” gave way to dissent and resistance from princely states across the country, Kittur Chennamma, Sangolli Rayanna and others spearheaded rebellions in Karnataka in 1830, nearly three decades before the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Other uprisings followed, such as the ones at Supa, Bagalkot, Shorapur, Nargund and Dandeli. These rebellions – which coincided with the 1857 war of independence – were led by Mundargi Bhimarao, Bhaskar Rao Bhave, the Halagali Bedas, Raja Venkatappa Nayaka and others. By the late 19th century, the freedom movement had gained momentum; Karnad Sadashiva Rao, Aluru Venkata Raya, S. Nijalingappa, Kengal Hanumanthaiah, Nittoor Srinivasa Rau and others carried on the struggle into the early 20th century.
In the early 1900s through the post-independence era, industrial visionaries such as Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya born in Muddenahalli, near Kanivenarayanapura, Chikballapur District played an important role in the development of Karnataka’s strong manufacturing and industrial base.
The state has three principal geographical zones: the coastal region of Karavali, the hilly Malenadu region comprising the Western Ghats and the Bayaluseeme region comprising the plains of the Deccan plateau. The bulk of the state is in the Bayaluseeme region, the northern part of which is the second largest arid region in India. The highest point in Karnataka is the Mullayanagiri hills in Chickmagalur district which has an altitude of 1,929 metres (6,329 ft). Some of the important rivers in Karnataka are Kaveri, Tungabhadra, Krishna, Malaprabha and the Sharavathi.
Karnataka experiences four seasons. The winter in January and February is followed by summer between March and May, the monsoon season between June and September and the post-monsoon season from October till December. Meteorologically, Karnataka is divided into three zones — coastal, north interior and south interior. Of these, the coastal zone receives the heaviest rainfall with an average rainfall of about 3,638.5 mm (143 in) per annum, far in excess of the state average of 1,139 mm (45 in). Agumbe in the Shivamogga district receives the second highest annual rainfall in India. The highest recorded temperature was 45.6 °C (114 °F) at Raichur and the lowest recorded temperature was 2.8 °C (37 °F) at Bidar.
About 38,724 km2 (14,951 sq mi) of Karnataka is covered by forests. The forests are classified as reserved, protected, unclosed, village and private forests. The percentage of forested area is slightly less than the all-India average of about 23%, and significantly less than the 33% prescribed in the National Forest Policy.
According to the 2001 census of India, the total population of Karnataka is 52,850,562, of which 26,898,918 (50.9%) are male and 25,951,644 (49.1%) are female, or 1000 males for every 964 females. This represents a 17.3% increase over the population in 1991. The population density is 275.6 per km and 34.0% of the people live in urban areas. The literacy rate is 66.6% with 76.1% of males and 56.9% of females being literate. 83% of the population are Hindu, 11% are Muslim, 4% are Christian, 0.8% are Jains, 0.7% are Buddhist, and with the remainder belonging to other religions.
Kannada is the official language of Karnataka and spoken as a native language by about 64.8% of the people. Other linguistic minorities in the state as of 1991 are Urdu (9.7%), Telugu (8.3%), Tamil (3.8%), Marathi (4.0%), Tulu (3.4%), Hindi (1.9%), Konkani (1.8%), Malayalam (1.7%) and Kodava Takk (0.3%). The state has a birth rate of 2.2%, a death rate of 0.7%, an infant mortality rate of 5.5% and a maternal mortality rate of 0.2%. The total fertility rate is 2.2.
In the field of super-specialty health care, Karnataka’s private sector competes with the best in the world. Karnataka has also established a modicum of public health services having a better record of health care and child care than most other states of India. In spite of these advances, some parts of the state still leave much to be desired when it comes to primary health care.