Goa, situated between the borders of Maharashtra and Karnataka, is one of the major destinations for tourists to India. The history of Goa dates back to the 3rd century BC, when it formed part of the Mauryan Empire. The Portuguese ruled Goa for over 450 years until 1961. In 1987, Goa attained statehood, with
Panaji as its capital.
Goa has 44 towns and 360 villages. The state spans 3,702 sq km, and has an approximate population of 1.3 million. Goans have a distinct style of living, a unique blend of Indian and Portuguese. In addition to Konkani, the official language, Marathi, Portugese and English are spoken.
Monuments, forts, bays and tiny picturesque villages dotted with paddy fields, and shady coconut, cashew and mango groves distinguish Goa from other states of India. Beaches, green hills, silvery waterways, waterfalls and lakes make it a unique spot with vast tourist potentialities. Calangute, Colva, Dona Paula, Miramar, Anjuna,
Vagator and Agonda are famous beaches in Goa. During the winter months between October and the end of February, tourists can experience a beachnik lifestyle. With its multitude of temples, churches and mosques, Goa retains an ambience of communal harmony. The Basilica of Bom Jesus, which contains the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier and the Church of St Francis of Assisi have religious overtones. Mapusa, Panaji, Ponda,
Mormugao Harbour, Vasco-da-Gama and
Margao are other places of interest. Tourism is so prominent that the number of tourists almost equals the state population.