Kochi (Cochin) is a breathtakingly scenic and vibrant city situated on the south-west coast of 'God's Own Country'. Its strategic importance over the centuries is underlined by the moniker 'Queen of the Arabian Sea'. The city extends over the backwaters, encompassing the northern end of the peninsula, several islands and a mainland. The origin of the name "Kochi" is from the Malayalam word Kochu Azhi, meaning 'Small Lagoon'.
Kochi was an important spice trading centre on the west coast of India from the 14th century onwards, and maintained a trade network with Arab merchants from the pre-Islamic era. Occupied by the Portuguese in 1503, Kochi was the first of the European colonies and remained the main seat of Portuguese India until 1530. The city was later occupied by the Dutch and the British, with the Kingdom of Cochin becoming a princely state. The Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese have left indelible marks on the history and development of Kochi.