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Map of India showing location of Goa
Country India

— Administrative
— Judicial1




— Latitude
— Longitude


— 15° N
— 73° E

Governor SC Jamir
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar
State language Konkani
Liberation Day December 19, 1961
Statehood Day May 30, 1987
Population 1.4 million
Area 37.02 km²

Goa (गोवा) is India's smallest state in terms of area and the second smallest in terms of population. Goa is internationally renowned for its fabled tropical beaches and world heritage architecture. A former colony of Portugal, parts of it were ruled by the Portuguese for about 450 years, from 1510 until December 1961.


Origin of name

The Indian epic Mahabharata refers to Goa by the appellation Goparashtra — a nation of cowherds. The southern Konkan region was called Govarashtra. In ancient Indian texts in Sanskrit, Goa was also known as Gopakapuri or Gapakapattana. These names were also mentioned in the sacred Hindu texts such as the Harivansa and the Skanda. Goa is also known as Gomanchala in the latter. In the Puranas and certain inscriptions, the name of the place appears as Gove, Govapuri, Gopakpattan, and Gomant. Ptolemy referred to Goa as Gouba around 200 CE. It has also been known as Aprant. The medieval Arabian geographers knew the port city of Chandor (or Chandrapur) as Sindabur, or Sandabur. The place that the Portuguese named Goa is a small ancient port town of what today is known as Goa-Velha. The term Goa was later applied to the whole territory that the Portuguese came to occupy (Velhas Conquistas as well as the Novas Conquistas).

Legend has it that Goa along with the Konkan region of India (stretching from southern Gujarat to Kerala) was formed by Lord Parashurama, who had conquered and donated the known world and had to find a new place to meditate and do a yagnya . He is said to have stood at the tip of the land at that time and fired 7 arrows (bana in Sanskrit)into the see, telling the lord of the seas to withdraw till the place where the arrows land. Thus, there are several places in Goa bearing names like banavali, banastari. There is also a mountain of ash-like material at the north edge of Goa at harmal beach, which is supposed to be the place of the yagnya of Parashurama.


Main article: History of Goa

Goa has a long history stretching back to the 3rd century CE, when it formed part of the Mauryan empire. It was later ruled by the Satavahans of Kolhapur at the beginning of the Common Era and eventually passed to the Chalukyans of Badami, who controlled it from 580 CE to 750 CE. Over the next few centuries it was ruled successively by the Silharas, the Kadambas and the Chalukyans of Kalyani.

Goa fell under the Delhi Sultanate for the first time in 1312, but they were forced to evacuate it in 1370 by Harihara I of the Vijayanagar. The Vijayanagar monarchs controlled Goa for nearly 100 years. In 1469, however, Goa was re-appropriated, this time by the Bahmani Sultans of Gulbarga. When this dynasty broke up, the area passed to Adil Shahis of Bijapur, who made Goa Velha their second capital.

In 1498, Vasco da Gama became the first European to set foot in India via a sea route. His successful mission led to other European powers seeking an alternate route to India as the traditional land routes were closed by the Turks. In 1510, the ruling Moghul Bijapur kings were defeated by the Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque, on request of a Hindu king, Timayya (Timoja). The Portuguese set up a base in Goa in their quest to control the spice trade. By mid-16th century, the area under occupation had expanded to most of present day limits.

On December 19, 1961, the Indian Army moved its troops into Goa taking it over by force. Goa, and the exclaves of Daman and Diu, were annexed to India via the 12th amendment to India's constitution, making them a Union territory of India. Portugal recognized the annexation after its revolution in 1974. On May 30, 1987, the Union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu was split with Goa being elevated to India's 25th state.


The state of Goa encompasses an area of 3,702 sq km. It lies between the latitudes 14° 53' 54" N — 15° 48'00" N and longitudes 73° 40' 33" E — 74° 20' 13" E. The Arabian Sea forms the west coast of state. Goa borders the state of Maharashtra in the north and Karnataka in the south and east. Being a coastal state, most of western Goa is at sea level with a coastline of 101 km (63 miles). Towards the east of the state rises the Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats. Sonsogor is the highest peak in Goa with an altitude of 1167 metres (3827 feet) above sea level.

The state is divided into two districts — North Goa and South Goa. The districts are further divided into eleven talukas — Ilhas, Bardez, Salcette, Satari, Canacona, Ponda, Marmagoa, Bicholim, Pernem, Quepem and Sanguem.


Warm throughout the year, Goa never gets very cold. Summers in May are blisteringly hot, with highs of 39° C and lows of 30° C, coupled with extreme humidity. Monsoons provide some relief from June to September, bathing the landscape in a lush and verdant green hue. The cooler months of December and January are the best times to visit, with a high of 30° C and a low of 20° C. Further inland, the temperature drops significantly at night, sometimes to a low of 12° C.


Tourism is Goa's primary industry. Tourists from all over the world come to enjoy the sunny beaches of the state. Domestic tourists also visit the beaches during summer vacation to escape the heat in interior India. Tourism is particularly important along Goa's coastal stretch, but its impact is more limited in the interior parts of the state. Goa is also famed for its cheap liquor, as the state has a very low excise duty on alcohol. Other industries include mining, canning, fertilisers, shipping, fisheries and alcohol distilleries.

Mining in Goa focuses on ores of iron, bauxite, manganese, clays, limestone and silica. Rice is the main agricultural crop (rice fields are called paddy fields), followed by ragi, cashew and coconut. Agriculture, while of shrinking importance to the economy over the past four decades, offers part-time employment to a sizable portion of the populace. The large bureaucracy and Goa's decades-old out-migration also keeps the wheels of the economy moving. The fishing industry provides an employment for 40,000, though recent official figures indicate a decline of the importance of this sector and also a fall in catch. Traditional fishing has given way to mechanised trawling.

Government and Law

The state capital is Panaji (often referred to—in its Portuguese version—as Panjim by foreigners, or Ponnje in the local Konkani language) on the banks of the river Mandovi . Panjim is the legislative and administrative capital of Goa. However, Goa comes under the Bombay High Court, making Bombay the judicial capital of the state despite being 600 km north. The court has a local Panaji bench, which adjudicates legal matters. Goa is India's only state to have a Uniform Civil Code governing its citizens. Other states have civil laws framed differently for each religion.

A 40-member Legislative Assembly, headed by a Chief Minister, forms the legislative wing of the government. The ruling government consists of the party or coalition garnering the most seats. A governor, appointed by the union government fills the ceremonial role of being the first citizen of the state.


A native of Goa is called a Goan. Goa has a population of 1.344 million residents consisting of 685,000 males and 658,000 females. It has a growth rate of 14.9%. 363 people reside per sq. km of the land. 49.77% of the population reside in urban areas. The sex ratio is 960 females to 1000 males. Goa's literacy rate is 82.32%, broken down into: males 88.88% and females 75.51%. The main towns are Margão, Vasco da Gama, Panjim and Mapuça (Mapusa ). Hinduism, Catholicism and Islam are the three main religions in Goa.

People and culture

Fort Aguada
Fort Aguada

Goans prefer an easy lifestyle. Most noticeable is the laid back lifestyle and slow pace of life in Goa. The government machinery moves at a snail's pace and office hours are shorter than most other places in India. The siesta is an integral part of most Goan daily life.

The most popular celebrations in Goa are Christmas, Ganesh Chaturthi, New Year's Day, Shigmo festival, Zatra's of various temples and the Carnival. Since the 1960s, the celebration of the Shigmo and Carnival have shifted to the urban centres, and in recent times these festivals are seen more as a means of attracting tourists. Celebrations for all festivals go on for days, non-stop. Dances and balls are organised in every major town where a nominal entry fee will allow any couple a good few hours of live music, dancing and social togetherness. English songs are very popular in Goa. Traditional Konkani folk songs too have a sizable following.

Goa is famously known for its rich variety of fish dishes. Being a coastal state, fish is one of Goa's most well known food delights with varieties of fish cooked with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil is widely used in Goan cooking along with chilli spices and vinegar giving the food an inimitable flavour. Pork dishes such as Xacuti and Sorpotel are cooked for major occasions among the Catholics. A rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known as bebinca is a hot favourite at Christmas.

Flora and Fauna

Golden sands of Goa
Golden sands of Goa

Ubiquitous coconut trees are the most visible arbour in Goa, often seen in picture postcards. Besides these, in the forests of eastern Goa, a large number of deciduous vegetation consisting of teak, cashew and mango trees are present. Jackfruits, mangos, pineapples and blackberries are some of the popular fruits available in the summer months.

Goa is notorious for having a high serpent population, revered for keeping the rodent population at bay. Foxes, Wild boars and migratory birds are found in the jungles of Goa.



  • Air — The Dabolim airport is Goa's sole domestic airport, linked to all major cities in India. Goa does not have an international terminal, but chartered planes do make direct flights to Goa. A new airport is planned, but still some years away, at Mopa, in North Goa.
  • Road — Goa is well connected to Bombay and Bangalore, two of India's largest cities. Daily luxury buses ply these routes, on an overnight journey of a distance of about 600 km.
  • Rail — Ever since the Konkan Railway was inaugurated, Goa has seen a rise in transportation as it directly links towns on India's western sea coast. Rail travel has become a preferred option for most domestic tourists in recent years.


  • Taxis — Un-metered taxis ferry many tourists in Goa around, though haggling is required beforehand to fix the fare.
  • Buses — public transportation by buses essentially is run by private owners. The operators have a penchant for cramming as many people in as possible including sometimes live chickens and fresh fish. The state owned Kadamba Transport Corporation plies slow local as well as fast non-stop buses on national highways between the major cities and also to neighbouring states.
  • Motorcycle taxis — Unique to Goa, this mode of transport ferries passengers on short journeys for a reasonable predetermined fare.
  • Ferry Boats — There are several internal rivers crossings which are still serviced by the ferry boats. These ferryboats are run by the river navigation departments. People and vehicles can both enter in these ferry boats. Ferry boats are named after each talukas like Tiswadi , Salcette, Bardez etc.


Pristine beaches are what most tourists come to Goa to enjoy. 4 lakh (400,000) foreign and 16 lakh (1.6 million) domestic tourists visit Goa annually. Domestic tourists arrive mostly in the summer, Diwali and Christmas holidays. World heritage architecture is another tourist attraction with many coming to see the Bom Jezu Basilica which houses the embalmed remains of St. Francis Xavier. Once every decade, thousands visit Goa during the Exposition of St Francis Xavier , when the body is taken down for veneration. The 'exposition' is currently in progress. In addition, many tourists also take in sights of famous temples such as the Mangueshi Temple . During the lean seasons of the monsoons, tourists also visit to take in the lush sylvan salubrious surroundings. Goa also has many famous National Parks, including the renowned Salim Ali bird sanctuary.

Goa has a number of excellent hotels and resorts. Friendly hotel staff take care of tourist needs. Restaurant cheffs are equally adept at western and Indian cuisine.

Goa is the permanent venue of International Film Festival of India since its 35th Festival.


Unlike the rest of India, where Cricket holds widespread popularity, Football is the most popular sport in Goa. Goans are ardent followers of local clubs. International football matches are also widely followed, with the Football World Cup and the European Football Championship, being the most popular events in this football crazy state. Goans also form a sizeable number of India's national hockey team.

Last updated: 02-08-2005 15:21:16
Last updated: 03-02-2005 12:46:15