Tamil Nadu is one of the 29 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai (formerly known as Madras). Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hills, and Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, and by the Indian Ocean on the south. The state shares a maritime border with the nation of Sri Lanka.
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- In many ways, South India is to North India as Ireland is to England. South India has been dominated politically and culturally by North India for many centuries. Tamils in particular, the most populous of South Indian ethnic groups (defined by the language they speak) take pride in their identity and more than once in this century have attempted to establish a separate Tamil nation. Also like the Irish, Tamils believe in strong sentiment: rage, grief, compassion, affection, desire, laughter, and ecstasy are openly and frequently displayed in the streets and courtyards of Tamil Nadu. And like the Irish, Tamils value the gift of gab: fabulous conversationalists, storytellers, singers, and poets abound among them.