Goa (Konkani: गोंय /ɡɔ̃j/) is India's smallest state in terms of area and the fourth smallest in terms of population. Located on the west coast of India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its western coast.
Panaji (also referred to as Panjim) is the state's capital. Vasco da Gama (sometimes shortened to Vasco) is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the influence of Portuguese culture. Portuguese first landed in Goa as merchants, in the early 16th century, and conquered it soon after. The Portuguese overseas territory existed for about 450 years, until it was annexed by India in 1961.
Renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture, Goa is visited by hundreds of thousands of international and domestic tourists each year. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot.
Goa's known history stretches back to the 3rd century BC, when it formed part of the Mauryan Empire. It was later ruled by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur, around 2000 years ago it was passed on to the Chalukya Dynasty, who controlled it between 580 to 750. Over the next few centuries Goa was successively ruled by the Silharas, the Kadambas and the Chalukyas of Kalyani, rulers of Deccan India.
In 1312, Goa came under the governance of the Delhi Sultanate. However, the kingdom's grip on the region was weak, and by 1370 they were forced to surrender it to Harihara I of the Vijayanagara empire. The Vijayanagara monarchs held on to the territory until 1469, when it was appropriated by the Bahmani sultans of Gulbarga. After that dynasty crumbled, the area fell to the hands of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur who made Velha Goa their auxiliary capital.
The Portugese encouraged the spread of Christianity , often with repressive measures leading to a significant population converting to Christianity. The repeated wars of the Portuguese with the Marathas and the Deccan sultanate, along with their repressive releigious policies led to large migrations of Goans to neighbouring areas.
In 1843 the capital was moved to Panjim from Velha Goa. By mid-18th century the area under occupation had expanded to most of Goa's present day state limits. Simultaneously the Portuguese lost other possesions in India until their borders stabilised and formed the Estado da India Portuguesa, of which Goa was the largest territory.
After India gained independence from the British in 1947, Portugal refused to negotiate with India on the transfer of sovereignity of their Indian enclaves. On 12 December 1961, the Indian army commenced with Operation Vijay resulting in the annexation of Goa, Damman and Diu into the Indian union. Goa, along with Daman and Diu was made into a centrally administered Union Territory of India. On 30 May 1987, the Union Territory was split, and Goa was elevated as India's twenty-fifth state, with Daman and Diu remaining Union Territories.
Goa encompasses an area of 3,702 km² (1,430 sq mile). It lies between the latitudes 14°53'54" N and 15°40'00" N and longitudes 73°40'33" E and 74°20'13" E. Most of Goa is a part of the coastal country known as the Konkan, which is an escarpment rising up to the Western Ghats range of mountains, which separate it from the Deccan Plateau. The highest point is the Sonsogor, with an altitude of 1,167 meters (3,827 feet). Goa has a coastline of 101 km (63 miles).
Goa's main rivers are the Mandovi, the Zuari, the Terekhol, Chapora River and the Sal. The Mormugao harbor on the mouth of the river Zuari is one of the best natural harbors in South Asia. The Zuari and the Mandovi are the lifelines of Goa, with their tributaries draining 69% of its geographic area. Goa has more than forty estuarine, eight marine and about ninety riverine islands. The total navigable length of Goa's rivers is 253 km (157 miles). Goa has more than three hundred ancient tanks built during the rule of the Kadamba dynasty and over a hundred medicinal springs.
Most of Goa's soil cover is made up of laterites which are rich in ferric aluminium oxides and reddish in color. Further inland and along the river banks, the soil is mostly alluvial and loamy. The soil is rich in minerals and humus, thus conducive to plantation. Some of the oldest rocks in the Indian subcontinent are found in Goa between Molem and Anmod on Goa's border with Karnataka. The rocks are classified as Trondjemeitic Gneiss estimated to be 3,600 million years old, dated by the Rubidium isotope dating method. A specimen of the rock is exhibited in the Goa University.
Goa, being in the tropical zone and near the Arabian Sea, has a warm and humid climate for most of the year. The month of May is the hottest, seeing day temperatures of over 35 °C (95 °F) coupled with high humidity. The monsoon rains arrive by early June and provide a much needed respite from the heat. Most of Goa's annual rainfall is received through the monsoons which last till late September.
Goa has a short cool season between mid-December and February. These months are marked by cool nights of around 20 °C (68 °F) and warm days of around 29 °C (84 °F) with moderate amounts of humidity. Further inland, due to altitudinal gradation, the nights are a few degrees cooler. During March 2008 Goa was lashed with heavy rain and strong winds. This was the first time in 29 years that Goa had seen rain during March.
The state is divided into two districts: North Goa and South Goa. Panaji is the headquarters of the north Goa district and Margao of the south district. Each district is governed by a district collector, an administrator appointed by the Indian government.
The districts are further divided into eleven talukas – Talukas of North Goa are Bardez, Bicholim, Pernem, Ponda, Sattari and Tiswadi, the talukas of South Goa are Canacona, Mormugao, Quepem, Salcete and Sanguem. Headquarters of the respective talukas are Mapusa, Bicholim, Pernem, Ponda, Valpoy, Panjim, Chaudi, Vasco, Quepem, Margao and Sanguem.
Forest cover in Goa stands at 1,424 km², most of which is owned by the government. Government owned forest is estimated at 1224.38 km² whilst private is given as 200 km². Most of the forests in the state are located in the interior eastern regions of the state. The Western Ghats, which form most of eastern Goa, have been internationally recognised as one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. In the February 1999 issue of National Geographic Magazine, Goa was compared with the Amazon and Congo basins for its rich tropical biodiversity.
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.
The important forests products are bamboo canes, Maratha barks, chillar barks and the bhirand. Coconut trees are ubiquitous and are present in almost all areas of Goa barring the elevated regions. A large number of deciduous vegetation consisting of teak, sal, cashew and mango trees are present. Fruits include jackfruits, mangos, pineapples and blackberries.
Foxes, wild boars and migratory birds are found in the jungles of Goa. The avifauna includes kingfishers, mynas and parrots. Numerous types of fish are also caught off the coast of Goa and in its rivers. Crabs, lobsters, shrimps, jellyfish, oysters and catfish form some of the piscine catch. Goa also has a high snake population, which keeps the rodent population in control. Goa has many famous National Parks, including the renowned Salim Ali bird sanctuary. Other wildlife sanctuaries include the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Molem Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Madei Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary located on the island of Chorao.
Goa has more than 33% of its geographic area under government forests (1224.38 km²) of which about 62% has been brought under Protected Areas (PA) of Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Park. Since there is a substantial area under private forests and a large tract under cashew, mango, coconut, etc. plantations, the total forest and tree cover constitutes 56.6% of the geographic area.
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As in some other parts of India, a market in medical tourism has arisen. For example, Victor M. Albuquerque of the Alcon Victor Group, which includes a 150-bed specialty hospital, has said that
Agriculture, while of shrinking importance to the economy over the past four decades, offers part-time employment to a sizable portion of the populace. Rice is the main agricultural crop, followed by areca, cashew and coconut. The fishing industry provides employment for about forty thousand people, though recent official figures indicate a decline of the importance of this sector and also a fall in catch, perhaps coupled with the fact that traditional fishing has given way to large-scale mechanised trawling.
Zuari Industries (2005 gross income Rs.36,302 million) and Sesa Goa (2005 gross income Rs.17,265 million) are two S&P CNX 500 conglomerates which have corporate offices in Goa. The Goa government has recently decided to not allow any more special economic zones (SEZs) in Goa. This is in stark contrast to policy followed by other states of India. SEZs are known to bring tax revenues for the government and employment option for local citizens since industries flock there for lower tax rates as compared to other areas. Currently there are 16 planned SEZs in Goa. This decision was taken by state government after strong opposition to SEZs by political parties and Goa catholic church.
Goa's public transport largely consists of privately operated buses linking the major towns to rural areas. Government-run buses, maintained the Kadamba Transport Corporation, links both major routes (like the Panjim–Margao route) and some remote parts of the state. In large towns such as Panjim and Margao, intra-city buses ply. However, public transport in Goa is less developed, and residents depend heavily on their own transport, usually motorised two-wheelers. Goa has two National Highways passing through it. NH-17 runs along India's west coast and links Goa to Bombay in the north and Mangalore to the south. NH-4A running across the state connects the capital Panjim to Belgaum in east, linking Goa to cities in the Deccan. The NH-17A connects NH-17 to Mormugao Harbour from Cortalim, and the new NH-17B, once complete will be a four lane highway connecting Mormugao Harbour to NH-17 at another location, Verna, via Dabolim airport. Goa has a total of of National highway, of state highway and 815 km of district highway.
Hired forms of transport include unmetered taxis, and, in urban areas, auto rickshaws. A unique form of transport in Goa is the Motorcycle taxi, operated by drivers who are locally called "pilots". These vehicles transport a single pillion rider, at fares that are usually negotiated prior or after the journey (it is always better to ask locals on the correct fare before you try any negotiations yourself). In some places in Goa, there are river crossings which are serviced by the ferry boats, operated by the river navigation departments. Goa has two rail lines — one run by the South Western Railway and the other by the Konkan Railway. The line run by the South Western Railway was built during the colonial era linking the port town of Vasco da Gama with Hubli in Karnataka via Margao. The Konkan Railway line, which was built during the 1990s, runs parallel to the coast connecting Mumbai to the Malabar Coast.
The Mormugao harbour near the city of Vasco handles mineral ore, petroleum, coal and international containers. Much of the shipments consist of minerals and ores from Goa's hinterland. Panjim, which is situated on the banks of the Mandovi, also has a minor port, which used to handle passenger steamers between Goa and Mumbai till the late 1980s.
Hinduism (65.8%), Christianity (26.7%) and Islam (6.8%) are the three main religions in Goa. Roman Catholicism reached Goa during the period of European colonisation, which began in 1498 when the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived on the Malabar coast. With the establishment of Goa Inquisition in 1560, a large sections of the population became Roman Catholic. These Roman Catholics who are native to Goa are known as Goan Catholics. A small community of Jews also live in Goa as well.
The most popular celebrations in Goa are Ganesh Chaturthi (Chavoth-Konkani), Diwali, Christmas, Easter, Samsar Padvo, Shigmo and the Carnival. Goa is also known for its New Year's celebrations. The Goan Carnival is known to attract a large number of tourists.
Goan Hindus are very fond of Natak, Bhajan and Kirtan. Many famous Indian Classical singers hail from Goa, such as Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Kishori Amonkar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Jitendra Abhisheki, Prabhakar Karekar.
Rice with fish curry (Xit kodi in Konkani) is the staple diet in Goa. Goan cuisine is renowned for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil is widely used in Goan cooking along with chili peppers, spices and vinegar giving the food a unique flavour. Pork dishes such as Vindaloo, Xacuti and Sorpotel are cooked for major occasions among the Catholics. An exotic Goan vegetable stew, known as Khatkhate, is a very popular dish during the celebrations of festivals, Hindu and Christian alike. Khatkhate contains at least five vegetables, fresh coconut, and special Goan spices that add to the aroma. A rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known as bebinca is a favourite at Christmas. The most popular alcoholic beverage in Goa is feni; Cashew feni is made from the fermentation of the fruit of the cashew tree, while coconut feni is made from the sap of toddy palms. Important festivals in Goa include the Goa Carnival and Shigmo.
Goa has two World Heritage Sites: the Bom Jesus Basilica and a few designated convents. The Basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, regarded by many Catholics as the patron saint of Goa (the patron of the Archdiocese of Goa is actually the Blessed Joseph Vaz). Once every twelve years, the body is taken down for veneration and for public viewing. The last such event was conducted in 2004. The Velhas Conquistas regions are also known for its Goa-Portuguese style architecture.
In many parts of Goa, mansions constructed in the Indo-Portuguese style architecture still stand, though in some villages, most of them are in a dilapidated condition. Fontainhas in Panaji has been declared a cultural quarter, showcasing the life, architecture and culture of Goa. Some influences from the Portuguese era are visible in some of Goa's temples, notably the Mangueshi Temple, although after 1961, many of these were demolished and reconstructed in the indigenous Indian style.
The architecture of Goa is a delightful combination of India, Mughal and Portuguese styles. Since the Portuguese ruled this place for four centuries, many churches and houses bear a striking element of the Portuguese style of architecture. Goa was also under the Mughal rule and thus one finds monuments built in the typical Mughal style complete with the domes. The typical Goan architecture is very simple and easy going and is visible in buildings like modern churches, houses, etc.
By the end of the 18th century, there was a change in the style of the buildings of Goa. Though the Portuguese essence remained, there was an overdose of colors and usage of tiles increased. Blue and red turned out to be favorite colors with many houses being painted in bright blues and the roofs being covered by red tiles. The houses are usually large and have spacious rooms with windows for ventilation. Each house also has a separate room or secluded space for keeping the idol or photographs of their Gods
The height of Goa's glory was mutually linked with the Portuguese, but the Goan grandeur predated the Portuguese. Chieftains, kings and a host of Indian dynasties had made this little jewel glitter with royal pomp. The Batpuras, the Bhujas, Ashoka, the Mauryas and the Satyavahanas have ruled over Goa. The inscription of around A.D.1000 (when Shashtadeva of the Goa Kadamba dynasty sat on the throne), describes the early splendor of the capital: 'Gardens on every side. White plastered houses, alleys, horse stables, flower gardens, markets, harlots' quarters, and tanks.' In his son's reign, Goa is reputed to have commanded a powerful fleet and traded with fourteen foreign lands. In essence, it was a coveted land with the most sought after port in India. And as the word spread, this advantage was to become a liability. The friendly harbours that had sent out sparkling blue ripples to the world were to backflow and become the road of conquest and colonization.
On July 4, 1497 when Vasco da Gama set sail from the River Tagus in Lisbon commanding the flagship São Gabriel, no one could have imagined the implications of his voyage. At that time the potentates of the East were wealthier than the financially embarrassed Western kings. Vasco da Gama never actually visited Goa, though now there is a coastal city, Vasco (biggest city of Goa) by his name to commemorate his link with Portugal. It was Afonso de Albuquerque who is credited with sowing the seeds of the Portuguese empire in India, first by destroying, then creating. Little did anyone know that Goa would change face. Now a stranger on the throne was to remould the past, reshape the present and go so far as to influence the future psyche of the people of Goa.
The Portuguese brought to Goa the magnificence of the West and the might of a nation at the height of its imperial power. Their vision was lofty and ambition sky high, but it blazed a short trail like a meteor. An art historian remarked, 'Portugal was a very small nation of a heroic people. However, at its peak, Goa was one of the wonders of the world, larger than Lisbon and even the London of its time! Some 300,000 people had made it their home. Goa resembled the 'meeting upon the burse in Antwerpe' wrote Linschoten, the Dutchman, and it was then that epithets like 'Rome of Asia' and 'Pearl of the Orient' were coined. 'Goa Dourada' or 'Golden Goa' sands was not an advertising slogan to beckon tourists, but more precisely the gilt-coated reredos and altars in the churches that displayed layers of the real gold Portugal had discovered in Africa.
Contemporary descriptions do not undertake this glitter. 'Quem viu Goa escusa de ver Lisboa', the word went round, 'Who has seen Goa needn't see Lisbon.' In 1606 Goa got Santa Monica, the first nunnery in the East. The imposing Basilica of Bom Jesus impressed Christians and non-Christians alike. Fantastic Italian architecture typically renaissance modelled on architectural details from the churches circled the city's skyline. There were compulsory orders to paint the mansions annually, after the monsoon had passed. The regulations insisted that although white may be used for picking out architectural details like quoins and cornices, and window edges and balustrades to contrast with the wall surfaces of yellow-ochre, Indian red or pale green, no buildings but churches might be white all over. In 1839, Caption Marryat in his novel The Phantom Ship de described Goa: 'The squares behind the palace and the wide streets were filled with living beings: elephants with gorgeous trappings; led or mounted horses with superb housings; palanquins carried by natives in splendid liveries; running footmen; syces; every variety of nation, from the proud Portuguese to the half-covered native; Musselmen, Arabs, Hindoos, Armenians; Officers and soldiers in their uniforms, all crowded and thronged together: all was bustle and motion. Such was the wealth, the splendor and luxury of the proud city of Goa - the Empress of the East.'
In recent decades, a growing influence of cricket is visible, in large part fuelled by the massive coverage this sport gets on national television, thus making an impact even in a part of South Asia which hardly had any contact with the British Empire. Goa now has its own cricket team. Field Hockey is the third most popular sport.
Goa has a unicameral legislature consisting of a forty member Legislative Assembly, headed by a Chief Minister who wields the executive power. The present Chief Minister of Goa is Mr. Digamber Kamat and the Leader of Opposition is Mr. Manohar Parrikar. The ruling government consists of the party or coalition garnering the most seats in the state elections and enjoying the support of a simple majority of the House. The governor is appointed by the President of India. The governor's role is largely ceremonial, but plays a crucial role when it comes to deciding who should form the next government or in suspending the legislature as has happened in the recent past. After having stable governance for nearly thirty years up to 1990, Goa is now notorious for its political instability having seen fourteen governments in the span of the fifteen years between 1990 and 2005. In March 2005 the assembly was dissolved by the governor and President's Rule was declared, which suspended the legislature. A by-election in June 2005 saw the Congress coming back to power after winning three of the five seats that went to polls. The Congress party and the BJP are the two largest parties in the state. In the assembly pole of 2007, Congress-led coalition won and started ruling the state. Other parties include the United Goans Democratic Party, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.
DTH (Direct To Home) TV services are available from Dish TV, Tata Sky & DD Direct Plus. The All India Radio is the only radio channel in the state, broadcasting in both FM and AM bands. Two AM channels are broadcast, the primary channel at 1287 kHz and the Vividh Bharati channel at 1539 kHz. AIR's FM channel is called FM Rainbow and is broadcast at 105.4 MHz. Private FM radio channels available are Big FM at 92.7 MHz, Radio Mirchi at 98.3 MHz, and Radio Indigo at 91.9 MHz. There is also an educational radio channel, Gyan Vani, run by IGNOU broadcast from Panaji at 107.8 MHz. In 2006, St Xavier's College, Mapusa, became the first college in the state to launch a campus community radio station 'Voice of Xavier's'.
Goa has also started an independent 24 hours satellite TV channel called STV Goa News which gives news from all the different parts of the state and is presently beamed from the satellite Thaicom 5 and is a Free to Air (FTA) channel.
Goa has number of local news channels registered under CABLE NEWS CHANNEL ASSOCIATION which are as follows. GOA365 (ENGLISH), GOAPLUS (ENGLISH & KONKANI), INGOA (MARATHI)< GOANEWSLINE (KONKANI) & PRUDENT MEDIA (ENGLISH, KONKANI & MARATHI)
Local newspaper publications include the English language The Herald (Goa's oldest, once a Portuguese language paper known as O Heraldo), the Gomantak Times and the Navhind Times. In addition to these, The Times of India and the Indian Express are also received from Bombay and Bangalore in the urban areas. The Times of India has recently started publication from Goa itself serving the local population news directly from the state capital. Among the list of officially-accredited newspapers are The Navhind Times, The Herald Times and The Gomantak Times (all in the English language) and Gomantak, Tarun Bharat, Navprabha, Pudhari, Goa Times, Sanatan Prabhat, Govadoot (all in Marathi), Sunaparant in Devanagiri-script Konkani. All are dailies. Other publications in the state include Goa Today (English-language, monthly), Goan Observer (English, weekly), Vavraddeancho Ixtt (Roman-script Konkani, weekly) Goa Messenger, Gulab (Konkani, monthly), Bimb (Devanagiri-script Konkani), Harbour Times, Digital Goa, and "J's House".
According to the 2001 census, Goa has a literacy rate of 82% with 89% of males and 76% of females being literate. Each taluka is made up of villages, each having a school run by the government. Due to the low levels of corruption and the quality of the government schools, private schools are less in demand, compared to the rest of the country. All schools come under the state SSC whose syllabus is prescribed by the state Education department. There are also a few schools run by the all-India ICSE board. Most students in Goa complete their high school using English as the medium of instruction. Primary schools, on the other hand are largely run in Konkani (in private, but government-aided schools). As is the case in most of India, enrollment for vernacular media has seen a fall in numbers in favour of English medium education.
After ten years of schooling, students join a Junior College which offers courses in popular streams such as Science, Arts, Law and Commerce. Additionally, many join three year diploma courses. Two years of college is followed by a professional degree. The Goa University is the sole university in the state located in Taleigao and all Goan colleges are affiliated to it. There are four engineering colleges and one medical college in the state. The Goa Engineering College and Goa Medical College are run by the state whereas the other three engineering colleges are run by private organisations.
Top colleges in Goa include St Xavier's College, Carmel College, Chowgule College, Dhempe College, Damodar College, MES College, etc.
The other private engineering colleges are, Shree Rayeshwar Institute of Engineering and Information Technology, Shiroda, and Padre Conceicao College of Engineering, Verna. There are also colleges offering pharmacy, architecture and dentistry along with numerous private colleges offering law, arts, commerce and science. There is also two National Oceanographic Science related centres, NCAOR and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in Vasco and Punjim.
Many residents, however, choose to take up courses in other states as the demand for a course in Goa is more than that available. Goa is also well-known in India for courses in marine engineering, fisheries, hotel management and cuisine. The State also hosts a business school - the Goa Institute of Management which is autonomous and was founded in 1993 by Romuald D'Souza. Portuguese is taught as a part of the school curriculum, often as a third language in some schools. The Goa University also offers Bachelors and Masters degrees in Portuguese.