The Malayali are people who inhabit the South Indian state of Kerala and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and haveMalayalam language as their mother tongue. They share a common ancestry, culture, and history. A significant Malayali population, who migrated recently, also exist in other parts of India, the Middle East, North America, and Europe. According to the Indian census of 2011, there are approximately 33 million Malayalis in Kerala, making up 96.7% of the total population of the state. Hence the word Keralite is often used synonymously with Malayali, though a proper definition is ambiguous
Malayalam, the native language of Malayalis, has its origin from the words mala meaning mountain and alam meaning land or locality. Hence the term Malayali refers to the people from the mountains who lived beyond the Western Ghats, and Malayalam the language that was spoken there.