The name 'Salem' appears to have been derived from Sela or Shayla by which the term refers to the country around the hills, as in the inscriptions. Local tradition claims Salem as the birth place of Tamil poetess Avvaiyar.
The town is surrounded by an amphitheater of hills, the Nagarmalai in the north, the Jeragamalai in the south, the Kanjanamalai on the west and Godumalai on the east. The Thirumanimuthar in the main division divides it.
Salem is the fifth largest city in Tamil Nadu. Gorgeous silks and gossamer cottons from the hand looms of Salem are well known to the ladies, The High Court dhotties are to assuage the men folk. Recently our weavers have entered the Textiles Export Market in a highway and the Government of India has selected Salem City to be notified as a Textile Export Zone.
Salem is synonymous with mangoes. Can any one ever forget the ecstasy of the Malgova or the Kudhaud, not to speak of other nectar like varieties. Salem is the National Center for sago and starch products.
Salem is a great market town for agricultural produce of the linter lands with the famous “LEIGH BAZAAR” established in 1840 and the great Dalal Street of Salem, “THE SHEVAPET” the commercial heart of the city dealing in anything and every thing from Gold, Silver, Food grains, Oils, Yarn and Textiles to Minerals etc. Even though the dream of a full fledged Steel Plant is yet to be realized, the existing Steel Rolling Mills have spread the name of “SALEM STEEL” brand name of SAIL’S International quality stainless steel sheets far and wide.
Apart from its history, it has important locations such as Mettur dam, Yercaud, hills, Sankari fort, Tharamangalam Kailasanathar temple & several beautiful & historic sites & above all it is located centrally & is easily accessible from Bangalore, Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai & Chennai. Though agriculture is the main base, Salem is also an important textile center & has rich magnesite, bauxite & mineral reserves & 90% of sago supplies to the country through Salem. It also has rich industrial base with the Salem steel plant, SISCOL, MALCO, CHEMPLAST, & with regard to power generation also, the Thermal & Hydel power plant at Mettur contribute towards power supply to the state.