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, the ancient geographer 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 name that the Portuguese as knew 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).
Main article: History of Goa
Goa has a long history stretching back to the 3rd century BC, when it formed part of the Mauryan empire. It was later ruled by the Satavahans of Kolhapur at the beginning of the Christian 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 held on to 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. 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 too cold. Summers in May are blistering hot, with highs of 39° C and lows of 30° C, coupled with extreme humidity. The monsoons provide some relief from June to September, bathing the landscape in a lush and verdant green hue straight out of a watercolour painting. The cooler months of December and January are the best times to visit with a warm 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 mainstay industry. Tourists from all over the world come to enjoy the sun-n-sands of the state. Domestic tourists also visit the beaches during the summer vacations, to escape the searing 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 includes the ores of iron ore, bauxite, manganese ore, clays, limestone and silica. Paddy is the main agricultural crop 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 sizeble 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 too has given way to mechanised trawling.
Government and Law
The state capital is Panaji (often referred to also as Panjim by English-language speakers, 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 however, 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
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 Chaturti, New Year's Day and the Carnival. Since the 1960s, the celebration of the Carnival has however shifted to the urban centres, and in recent times this festival is seen more as a means of attracting tourists. Celebrations 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 known for its rich food especially the meats. Pork dishes such as Xacuti and Sorpotel are cooked for almost every major occasion. 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. To top it all, a rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known as bebinca is sometimes served after meals.
Flora and Fauna
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 large number of serpent population, although they are revered for keeping the rodent population at bay. Foxes, Wild boars and migratory birds are found in the jungles of Goa.
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 next 'exposition' is in late 2004. 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.
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, being the most popular event in this football crazy state. Goans also form a sizeable number of India's national hockey team. Cricket is the third most popular sport in the state.
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