As of 2001, it is one of 10 Indian states with a population greater than 50 million. 90% of India's gold production comes from Karnataka.
The state has three principal physical zones;
There are several suggested etymologies for the name Karnataka. The most reasonable one is that it comes from "karu" + "nadu" meaning "elevated land". It is interesting to note that Karnataka has one of the highest average elevations of Indian states at 1500 feet.
see article Districts of Karnataka
Due to the linguistic basis for the formation of the Indian states, language is a very important part of a state's identity. The predominant language of this area is Kannada, which is its official language. Other languages include Kodava Takk, Tulu and Konkani, as well as the languages of the surrounding states: Marathi, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam.
The history of Karnataka dates back to the period of epics. The capital of Vali and Sugriva, 'Vanara Sena' of the Ramayana, is said to have been Hampi in the present day Bellary district. Hidimbasura of Mahabharatha, a cruel and fierce demon, is said to have lived in present day Chitradurga district of Karnataka, who was then exterminated by Bhima who came there along with the other Pandavas and their monther Kunti during the Vanavaasa. Stone transcriptions from the period of Ashoka are the oldest available archaelogical evidence.
In the 4th century BC, a local dynasty called Satavahana came to power, and its rule lasted nearly 300 years. With the disintegration of the Satavahana dynasty, the Kadambas came to power in the north, and the Gangas in the south of the state. The gigantic monolithic statue of Gomateswara is considered to be the monument of the Ganga period. The Chalukyas of Badami (500 to 735 AD) ruled over a wider area, from the Narmada to the Kaveri from the days of Pulikeshi II (609 to 642 AD) who had even defeated Harshvardhana of Kannauj. This dynasty created fine monuments at Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal, both structural and rock-cut. Aihole has been one of the cradles of temple architecture in the country. The Rastrakatas (753-973 AD) of Malkhed who succeeded them levied tribute on the rulers of Kannauj successively in the so-called Age of 'Imperial Kannauj'. Kannada literature developed in this period. Outstanding Jain scholars of India lived in their court. The Chalukyas of Kalyana (973 to 1183 AD) and their feudatories, the Hoysalas of Halebidu built fine temples, encouraged literature and fine arts. Noted jurist Vijnaneshwara (work-Mitakshara) lived at Kalyana. The great religious leader Basaveshwara was a minister at Kalyana. Vijaynagar empire (1136 to 1646 AD) fostered indigenous traditions and encouraged arts religion and literature in Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil. Overseas trade flourished. The Bahamani Sultans (Capital-Gulbarga, later Bidar and Bijapur) Adilshahis raised fine Indo-Saranic buildings and encouraged Urdu and Persian literature. After the fall of Peshwa (1818 AD) and Tipu Sultan (1799 AD) Karnataka came under the British.
After Indian independence, the Wodeyar Maharaja acceded to India. In 1950, Mysore became an Indian state, and the former Maharaja became its rajpramukh, or governor. After accession to India, the Woyedar family was given a pension by the Indian state until 1975, and members of the family still reside in part of their ancestral palace in Mysore.
On November 1, 1956 or Rajyotsava Day (Formation Day), Mysore State was enlarged to its present boundaries, incorporating the state of Coorg and the Kannada-speaking portions of neighboring Madras, Hyderabad, and Bombay states, with an elected Chief Minister and state assembly. On November 1 1973 the name of the state was changed to Karnataka.
Karnataka is home to several national parks, including Bandipur National Park in Mysore District, Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore District, Nagarhole National Park in Mysore and Kodagu districts, Kudremukh National Park in Dakshina Kannada and Chickmagalur districts, and Anshi National Park in Uttara Kannada District.
There are also a number of wildlife sanctuaries and nature preserves.