Karnataka is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamil Nadu to the southeast, and Kerala to the southwest. The state covers an area of 74,122 sq mi (191,976 km²), or 5.83% of the total geographical area of India. It is the eighth largest Indian state by area, the ninth largest by population and comprises 29 districts. Kannada is the official and most wThough several etymologies have been suggested for the name Karnataka, the generally accepted one is that Karnataka is derived from the Kannada words karu and nādu, meaning elevated land. Karu nadu may also be read as Karu (black) and nadu (region), as a reference to the black cotton soil found in the Bayaluseeme region of Karnataka. The British used the word Carnatic (sometimes Karnatak) to describe both sides of peninsular India, south of the Krishna River.
With an antiquity that dates to the paleolithic, Karnataka has also been home to some of the most powerful empires of ancient and medieval India. The philosophers and musical bards patronized by these empires launched socio-religious and literary movements which have endured to the present day. Karnataka has contributed significantly to both forms of Indian classical music, the Carnatic (Karnataka Music) and Hindustani traditions. Writers in the Kannada language have received the most number of Jnanpith awards in India. Bangalore is the capital city of the state and is at the forefront of the rapid economic and technological development that India is experiencing.
The state has three principal geographical zones: the coastal region of Karavali, the hilly Malnad 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 Chikkamagaluru district which has an altitude of 1,929 metres (6,329 ft). Some of the important rivers in Karnataka are the Kaveri, the Tungabhadra, the Krishna and the Sharavathi.