As of 2001[update] India census, Kanhangad had a population of 65,499. Males constitute 48% of the population and females 52%. Kanhangad has an average literacy rate of 78%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 83%, and female literacy is 74%. In Kanhangad, 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.Official and the local language is Malayalam. Other prominent languages spoken by communities living here include Konkani,Beary and Kannada. A large GSB Brahmin community (who speaks Konkani) lives here. The Gowda Saraswat Brahmin temple and Lakshmi Venkatesh temple (LV temple) are also situated in Kanhangad. There is also a small PalghatIyer Brahmin community which speaks a mix of Malayalam and Tamil. Kannada speaking Hegde Community too resides in Kanhangad and they have their Bhajana mandir - Sri Krishna Temple walkable distance from Kanhangad Railway station & Bus Stand. Other important temples are Mariyamman Temple, Poonkavam Siva Temple, Ganesh Mandir (next to Sri Krishna Temple), Rakteshwari temple and Atiyambur Sri Subramanya Temple.
Bekal Fort, another tourist attraction, is situated 8 km from Kanhangad (60 km from Mangalore airport). Coins and other artefacts excavated at Bekal Fort demonstrate that the Mysore Sultans had a strong presence in the area. The death of the Tipu Sultan in Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799 saw the end of Mysorean control; subsequently the fort came under the control of the British East India Company.
Agriculture and fishing are the primary sources of income for residents of the region. The soil and topography allow for a diverse selection of crops to be grown. Rubber, pepper, cashew and ginger are the important crops that are grown in the eastern part of the region, which comprises the forested and hilly areas. In the coastal areas, coconut, rice and tobacco are cultivated.
Since the oil boom of the 1980s, young people have migrated to the oil producing Gulf countries in pursuit of lucrative job opportunities. This has considerably changed the economic situation and life style of the residents. Many families depend on money sent by family members working in the Gulf and other regions.
P. Kunhiraman Nair (1906-1972), the famous poet of Kerala, hailed from Bellikoth near Kanhangad. He worked as Malayalam Teacher and wrote many poems about nature. He won the Kendra Sahitya Academy Award for his work Thamarathoni.
Sri. Vidwan P.Kelu Nair, (1899-1929), a famous National Movement Leader. Born at Nileshwar, he established a Sanskrit school named Vignana Dayini at Bellikkoth. He protested against British imperialism. He was very famous as a poet, dramatist, actor and director, and wrote many inspiring songs and poems on India's struggle for freedom.
Krishnan Kakkanath (1940-2011) ... He was the state Vice-President & Kasargod District President of Kerala Vyapari Vyavasai Ekopana Samithi (KVVES) , the largest Traders & Merchents organisation in Kerala for 18 years. He was also the Secretary & Trustee for Chinmaya Mission, State President Yadava Sabha, District president OISCA International & Airforce Assosiation and Vice President kanhangad vikasana Vedi.
He made tremendous contribution to the Socio-Economic upliftment of the region through various social organisations.
The southwest monsoon starts towards the end of May or the beginning of June, heralded by thunderstorms; it prevails until September when the rain fades out. October brings the northeast monsoon. Dry weather sets in by the end of December. January and February are the coolest months of the year. March, April and May are very hot.