Kottayam is a major trading center of natural rubber in India. Rubber trees are extensively cultivated in central Kerala, especially in vast areas of Kottayam District, in plantations, both large and small.
The Rubber Board, a body set up by the Government of India for the development of rubber industry is also located at Kottayam. A number of small and medium sized enterprises in and around the town are engaged
in the processing of rubber latex and manufacturing of rubber products. Besides rubber, Kottayam is a trading place of other commercial crops like spices cultivated widely in the surrounding areas. Plantation
Corporation of Kerala also has its headquarters in Kottayam.
Kottayam is also known as a business centre. The stretch of Kottayam-Kumily Road (KK road) that passes through the town is a major shopping centre. Baker Junction and Kanjikuzhy are also considered as the commercial
and residential hubs of the town.
Tourism has a major contribution to the economy of the place, as many tourism related businesses thrive in the town. Kumarakom, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Kerala, is only 14 km from the town
Kottayam has its place of honour in the cultural map of Kerala. The culture of Kottayam is influenced mainly by the large presence of the Syrian Christian community. The Syrian Christians of Kottayam are popularly known as Achayans.
The cuisine of Kottayam is Keralite Cuisine, characterised by the use of parboiled rice as the staple food and the presence of coconut and spices in abundance.
Margamkali and Arjuna Nritham are popular dance forms. Margamkali, which consists of group dance and martial arts like Parichamuttukali popular among the Syrian Christian community. It is performed by men and women separately. In the past,
it was performed during Syrian Christian weddings. Arjuna Nritham also known as Mayilpeeli Thookkam performed by men was also popular. Besides these, popular South India dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattom and Kuchipudi and the
classical Carnatic Music are also learned by a large number of young people, mainly as a hobby and extracurricular activity.
Cricket, Basketball and football are among the most popular sports in Kottayam. Kottayam is also famous for athletics, as the place has produced several athletes who represented India. The main stadium of Kottayam is the Nehru stadium at
the entrance of the town. And many tournaments happen in the town in the course of the year. A number of popular Basketball tournaments including Marian Trophy, Girideepam trophy,Lourdes trophy and Virginia Memorial tournament are conducted every year.
A Municipal park is located in Sastri road.There are several movie halls which screens Malayalam, English, Tamil and Hindi movies. There are also restaurants that cater to Kerala, Tamil and North Cuisines.
Kottayam is considered as the nerve center of Malayalam literature and publishing media. Unnuneeli Sandesam, a beautiful and famous poetry work, is supposed to have been written by one of the Vadakkumkur Rajas. In 1821, Benjamin Baily, a British missionary,
established C.M.S. Press, the first printing press in Kerala, in Kottayam. The town has been in the forefront of Newspaper and Book publishing in the state ever since.
The Old Seminary of the Malankara Orthodox Church was the first institution to start English education in Southern India. C.M.S High School, (now Church Missionary Society College High School), was founded by the British missionary, Benjamin Bailey of the
Church Mission Society of London. C.M.S College, the first college in Kerala was started in Kottayam in 1817 by the Church Missionary Society. The Baker Memorial Girls High School in Kottayam,founded by Amalia Dorothea Baker in 1820, is one of the oldest girls' schools in India.