Goa is situated on India’s western coastline and is the smallest state in India in terms of the area it covers. Its capital city is Panaji and it is surrounded by Maharashtra, Karnataka and the Arabian Sea. Goa is popular amongst tourists for its beautiful white sandy beaches with their tall palm trees and pristine waters, as well as for its architecture, temples and mosques. Goa has a distinctly Portuguese influence due to its being inhabited by explorers from this part of Europe in the 1500’s for about 450 years before India annexed it.

Goa was under the Mauryan rulership in the third century BCE (Before our Common Era). The Emperor at this time was a strict Buddhist and, together with the monks, established this religion in Goa. From that time on, Goa came under the governing of many different empires. It was only in the early 16th century that this state came to be under Portuguese rule. With the Portuguese settlers came Christianity and many of the Goans converted as a result. However, when the Portuguese continued warring with local sultanates and inflicting strict religious rules, many of the Goans moved to surrounding areas. Although the rest of India gained independence in 1947, Portugal did not want to cooperate regarding their rulership. It was only in 1961 that Goa was declared part of Indian territory. Goa was made a state in May of 1987.

Goa benefits from extensive coastline with beautiful beaches that stretch for over 100 kilometres. In fact, most of its physical area is coastal, while the mountain range of Western Ghats separates it from the Deccan Plateau. One of its
Image of Maruti temple in Panjim, Goa. Province in India.
Maruti temple in Panjim, Goa. Province in India.
many rivers is home to the Mormugao; a world-renowned natural harbour. Its many water channels have been used for centuries as transport routes, tanks and even medicinal springs. Goa experiences a tropical climate; i.e. hot and humid. Even winter days reach highs of almost 30 degrees Celsius. May is the hottest and most uncomfortable of months to visit this area.

While the humidity can be very uncomfortable for travellers, it has ensured that Goa is lush, fertile and undeniably gorgeous. The eastern interior is home to stunning equatorial forests, while the Western Ghats are recognised as having one of the highest numbers of different plant- and animal species in the world.

The productivity of the land also places it within the ideal segment for agriculture. The main crop grown in Goa is rice, a staple amongst Indian locals. Other major crops include pulses, coconuts (grown everywhere in Goa except on the mountains), cashew nuts, mangoes, blackberries, pineapples, sugar cane, areca nuts, ragi and bananas. Interestingly, the equatorial forests are the ideal places for medicinal plants to flourish, making for a unique range of such flora. Animals include parrots, mynas, foxes, wild boars, kingfishers and a wide array of snakes.

While approximately two-thirds of the Goan population subscribe to the Hindu faith, a large percentage is Christian and about 7% are Islamic.

Although being one of India’s smaller states, Goa is very wealthy. Its main industry is tourism, as visitors from all over the subcontinent and the rest of the world flock to this area to enjoy the tropical beaches and the abundance of fauna and flora. Further inland, the mining of various minerals and metals is the secondary industry. This yields iron, silica, manganese, clay and limestone.

Tourist attractions include:
• The Goa Carnival
• The Bom Jesus Basilica (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
• The Basilica (another UNESCO World Heritage Site)
• Various Indo-Portuguese mansions (e.g. Fontainhas in Panaji)
• The Mangueshi Temple
• The Mahalasa Temple
• Goa State Museum
• The Naval Aviation Museum

For more information, please view: http://www.goa-tourism.com/

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