Goa is India’s smallest state and it is located in the region known as Konkan in the western part of India. It is bounded by the State of Maharashtra to the north, Karnataka to the east and south, and the Arabian Sea to the west.
In ancient literature, Goa was known as Gomanta, Gomanchala, Gopakapattam, Gopakapuri and Gomantak. In the Indian epic Mahabharata, the area was referred to as Goparashtra which means a nation of cowherds.
In the 3rd century BC, Goa was a part of the Maurya Empire and was ruled by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka of Magadha, and later on by the Abhiras of Western Maharashtra and Bhojas of the Yadav clans of Gujarat. Subsequently, it was ruled by the Kadambas as the feudatories of the Chalukyas. They patronised Jainism in Goa. In 1312, Goa came under the Delhi Sultanate, and subsequently under the Vijaynagar empire until 1469, and then under Bahmani Sultans, and Adil Salis of Bijapur. In 1510, the Portuguese defeated the ruling Bijapur Sultan and set up a permanent settlement in Velha Goa or Old Goa. This was the beginning of Portuguese rule in Goa and lasted for four and a half centuries until 1961. After Independence of India, on 19 December 1961, the Indian Army began military operation resulting in the annexation of Goa, Daman and Diu into the Indian Union, having the status of Union Territory. However, on 30 May 1987, the Union Territory was split, and Goa was made India’s twenty-fifth state, with Daman and Diu remaining a Union Territory.
Goa encompasses an area of 3,702 km², covering most part of the coastal region known as Konkan which rises up to the Western Ghats range separating it from the Deccan Plateau. Most of Goa’s soil is made up of laterites, though inland and along the riverbanks, the soil is mostly alluvial and loamy. The soil is rich in minerals and humus, thus conducive to the plantation. Most of the forests in the State are located in the interior eastern regions of the State. Goa, being in the tropical zone and near the Arabian Sea, has a hot and humid climate for most of the year. The month of May is the hottest, and the monsoon rains arrive by early June and last until late September.
The total population of Goa is 1,457,723 as per 2011 census and density of population is 390/km?. The sex ratio is 960 females to 1,000 males. The literacy rate of Goa is over 87%, As for religion, 65.7% are Hindus, 26% Christians, 6.8% Muslims, 0.07%, Sikhs, 0.05% Buddhists, 0.06% Jains and 0.26% belong to other religious communities. There is a Hindu-Christianity Unity Memorial at Miramar Beach.
The State of Goa is divided into two districts—North Goa and South Goa. Panaji is the capital of the State. Like all other States of India, Goa now has a system of representative democracy. It has a unicameral Legislative Assembly of 40 members with the Chief Minister as the executive head. It also contributes 2 members in the Lok Sabha in Indian Parliamentary constituency.
According to the Goa, Daman and Diu Official Language Act, 1987, Konkani in the Devanagri script is the sole official language of Goa, but Marathi may also be used “for all or any of the official purposes.” Most of the people who are Goans speak in Konkani and other linguistic minorities in the state speak Marathi, Kannad, Mindi and Urdu.
As for Goanese culture, the festival of music and dance—Shigmo Mel or the Holi or Spring celebrations—signify unity in diversity. Other prominent local festivals are Diwali, Christmas, Easter, Dasara, etc. The Goan Carnival and New Year celebration are also widely observed in the State. The Goan Hindus are very fond of bhajan and kirtan. Many famous Indian classical singers hail from Goa, including Pandit Prabhakar Karekar, Konkani films have earned a notable place in the Indian film industry. The architecture of Goa is a combination of Indian, Islamic, and Portuguese styles. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of the Portuguese who first landed in the early 16th century as merchants and conquered it soon thereafter.
Goa is India’s richest state with a GDP per capita two and a half times that of the country as a whole. It ranked the best-placed State by the Eleventh Finance Commission for its infrastructure and ranked as a top for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission of Population, based on its 12 indicators. In the agricultural field, rice is the main food crop with pulses, ragi and other food crops. The land away from the coast is rich in minerals and ores, and mining forms a large industry which includes iron, bauxite, manganese, clay, limestone and silica. Medium-scale industries include the manufacturing of pesticides, fertilizers, tyres, tubes, footwear, chemicals, fruits and fish canning.
The transport system of Goa is appreciable for its four wings—rail, road, air, and sea. Most of Goa is well-connected by roads. The State has two rail lines-one run by the South Western Railway and the other by the Konkan Railway. Goa has International air services. The Mormagao harbour near the city of Vasco handles mineral ore, petroleum, coal and international containers.
Goa is a hot spot for tourism as it presents a somewhat different picture to the visitors for its Portuguese influence for over 450 years. The Se Cathedral at Old Goa is an example of Portuguese influence. It is famous for its excellent beaches, churches and temples. Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries boast of more than, 1512 documented species of plants, over 275 species of birds, over 48 kinds of animals, and over 60 genera of reptiles. Hence Goa attracts a lot of visitors—both domestic and foreign—and earns a huge sum of money from tourism.