About Goa

Goa lies on the west coast in the Konkan region between 14.53 and 15.48 degrees latitude North and 73.41 and 74.20 longitude East of Greenwich. The total land area of 3,611 square miles is in the shape of diamond. Bounded on the North by River Tiracol, on the East by the Western Ghats, on the South by the District of Kanara, and on the West by the Arabian Sea. Goa has a 105-km coastline.

Goa was liberated on December 19, 1961, from Portuguese rule and after 25 years of being a Union Territory (President's) rule, in 1987 was conferred Statehood. It is the 25th and the second youngest state in India.

The state has eleven (11) districts or Talukas. In the early 16th century Dom Alfonso d'Albuquerque conquered four (4) districts which are known as 'Velhas Conquistas' (Old Conquests). Later, seven (7) more districts were added and these are known as 'Novas Conquistas' (New Conquests). The eleven (11) districts/Talukas and their respective administrative capitals (in brackets) the first four are: Bardez (Mapuca), Ilhas (now known as Tiswadi) (Panaji). Marmagoa (Vasco da Gama) and Salcete (Margao), and last seven more were added from North, Pernem, (Pernem), Satari (Valpoi), Bicholim (Disholi), Ponda (Ponda), Sanguem (Sanguem), Quepem (Quepem), Canacona (Chauri).


The City of Panaji (Panjim) is state capital and is located on the south bank of the Mandovi River. Panaji's Portuguese history is displayed in the mansions along its narrow streets. Panjim effectively became the capital of Goa, when the Viceroy moved from Old Goa (Velha Goa) to reside in Yusuf Adil Shah's old palace in Panaji. In 1843 Panaji formerly became the capital of Goa. The newly built legislative assembly is across River Mandovi in Porvorim.


In ancient Hindu literatures, Goa was known as Gomanta, derived from River Gamati, the old name of River Mandovi, Govarashtra, Gopakapuri, Gavapuri, Gova or Gove. The Greek geographer Ptolemy (131 AD) alludes to the City of Kovba, said to be Goa. Some 2000 BC, Goa was known to the Sumeriams as Gubi. Originally Gova or Gove.(Goa being its Portuguese form)was the name of the Island of Tiswadi. After the Portuguese won it, the name Goa was extended to Velha Conquistas and later to Novas Conquistas.


The population is more than 1,200,000. The Hindus constitute 65 per cent, Christians 30 per cent, Muslims 3 per cent and others 2 per cent.
Goa has one of India's highest literacy rates (over 75%) and one of India's highest income levels.


Konkani (Kokni) is the official language. The other spoken languages are Marathi, English and Portuguese. Konkani is spoken by the majority of the people in Goa, and is one of the official languages of India.


Main Ports

Panaji: It is in the district of Tiswadi and lies at the mouth of River Mandovi between Fort Aguada and Cape Nivas. It is navigable from October to May and remains closed for the rest of the year because of Sandbars formed by the south-west monsoon. Mormugao: It's one of Asia's best natural harbors. It lies at the extreme western tip of the Marmagoa district at the mouth of River Zuari. Its depth is about 8 to 9 meters.

Minor Ports

Tiracol in Pernem, Chapora at the mouth of River Chapora in Bardez, Bethul at the end of River Sal in Salcete and in Canacona, Agonda at the mouth of River Agonda , south of Cape of Rama. Talpona on the left bank of River Talpona, and Galgibaga at the mouth of River Galgibaga.


A rail line from Vasco-da-Gama to Londa on Mangalore- Miraj line runs only in the south Goa that previously linked Goa to the rest of India. (Goa as a Portuguese enclave did not receive any part of what is considered Britain's great gift to India: the railroad). However, now after 36 years of liberation, the Indian Government has finally completed a new railroad for the Konkan Coast which makes it possible to travel by train directly from Mumbai to (through North/South Goa) Mangalore. This line runs between 3 to 4 kilometers along the coastline north to south parallel to highway 17. These two lines handle substantial traffic, both passenger and goods.


A local Highway 17 runs from Naibaga in the north through Pernem, Mapuca, Panaji, Cortalim, Verna, Margao, Cuncolim, Bally, Chauri, Mashen, Polem on the southern tip and on to Karwar in the state of Karnataka, while Highway 17A starts at Mormugao Harbor and joins Highway 17 at Cortalim. A new expressway has been built from Verna to Dabolim.


The Airport is located at Dabolim, 3 km from Vasco, and 29 km from Panaji. It serves domestic flights and international charters. The Indian Navy maintains and uses the airport for training navel personnel.


Goa is criss-crossed by nine main rivers, some long, some short. These rivers are navigable for considerable length. The Portuguese conqueror Alfonso de Albuquerque sailed the river Mandovi right up to Old Goa in 1510 and won the battle against the local ruler Adil Khan. River Tiracol (23 km) forms the north boundary of Goa. River Colvale (30 km) separates Bicholim and Bardez districts from Pernem. River Baga (1km), a riverlet formed by the waters of Indian Ocean, runs in Bardez. River Sinquerim (5 km) also formed by the Indian Ocean runs into Bardez. River Mandovi (63 km) has its source in the Ghats of Bingod and enters Goa through Parvor and continues its course along with its tributaries Volta and Madel, forming a number of islands as it meanders between Bardez and Tiswadi. River Zuari (65km) is the longest river that divides the State North and South. It originates in the Ghats of Dighi and its course runs between Salcete and Ponda till Marcaim, and then it runs again separating Salcete from Tiswadi. River Sal (25 km) starts from the hills of Verna , crosses Margao and Asolna until Betul. River Talpona (11 km) passes through Canacona. River Galgibaga (8 km) rises in the hills of Canacona and runs between Loiliem and Ponquinim. All the rivers flow into the Indian Ocean.


Along the coastline there are beautiful, silvery sand beaches beginning from Harmal Beach in Pernem District in the north down to Vagator, Baga, Calangute, Candolim in Bardez District, Dona Paula, Bambolim, Sridao, Miramar in Tiswadi, Baina, Bogmalo, Velsao in Marmagoa District, Colva, Marjorda, Benaulim in Salcete District, Betul in Quepem, Palaulem in Canacona District.


Hotels are located on most of the beaches. They range from Five Star expensive hotels; The Leela, Mobor, Cavelossim in the South, Fort Aguada Beach Resort in Sinquerim to moderately expensive hotels such as Majorda Beach Resort, Majorda Park Plaza Beach Resort, Bogmalo, Holiday Resort, Cavelossim all in the south, to Hotel Mandovi and Fildalgo, both in Panjim, Baia do Sol, Baga and quite a few low cost hotels and rooming houses all along the Goa coastline.


Goan cuisine shows Portuguese influence. Rice is the staple diet, and co-diet is fish. Seafood is available, from fish such as king fish, mackerel to prawns of all sizes, and crabs. The Hindus as well as Catholic cuisine are rich and varied. In the Catholic cuisine, the most favoured Portuguese dish is sorpatel made of pigmeat. Chicken and mutton xacutti are other favourites. Fish with rechado (a spicy filling made with Goa vinegar, which is derived from palm sap) is a favourite. The bebinca, a multi-layered cake, is a specialty among the sweets such as doce de grao, cocada, bolo de coco, to mention a few.

The potent Goan liquor, 'FENI', comes from the palm toddy tree or from the cashew apple.


Music is the soul of Goans. After the advent of the Portuguese, popular songs among the Christians came to be known as 'MANDOS' which has many varieties – romantic, political and satirical. The mandos are usually followed by dulpods, a short verse sung in racy style. The corrindinho, a Portuguese folk dance, was once a popular dance among the Catholics. The dekhni is a song of the temple dancers. Some of the dances are dhalos, geoff, fuggdi. The Hindus normally use musical instruments such as the shenai, the tabla, the sitar, the flute and gumott. The Catholics normally use western instruments such the guitar, the violin and the piano.

-- Roque M. Barreto