Goa is a state within the western Konkan region of India, which lies along the southwestern coast. It is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west, Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south. It is the smallest state by area but has the largest per capita GDP. Panaji is the capital, while Vasco da Gama is the largest city. Goa is one of India’s most popular tourist destinations due to white sand beaches, world heritage architecture, fascinating Indo-Portuguese culture, and numerous places of worship.
Unique among Indian states, Goa was a Portuguese colony throughout most of its modern history. The Portuguese first landed in the early 1500s, wresting control from the ruling Bijapur Sultans and effectively controlling the territory for the next 450 years until 1961. Panaji was named the capital in 1843, by which point the Portuguese territory of Goa was roughly contiguous with the current state borders. While the rest of India gained its independence in 1947, the Portuguese refused to relinquish their territory, forcing New Delhi to commence Operation Vijay in 1961 resulting in the bloodless annexation of Goa.
Goa has a relatively small population of approximately 1.5 million people. The state has the highest urbanization of any Indian state, with over 62% of the population residing in urbanized enclaves. Konkani is the majority language (61%), with Marathi second (23%), and Kannada, Hindi, and Urdu third with approximately 5% each. There is still substantial Portuguese spoken among the elderly population, though it has largely died out among anyone born after Goa’s Indian annexation. While 66% of the population is Hindu, Goa is the center of the Indian Christian population who constitute 25% of the state’s residents. Islam is a distant third with approximately 8%.
Goa has more than 2 million visitors in a typical year, especially in its coastal towns and resorts and is known both in India and abroad for its vivacious nightlife. Goa is known for its rich Indo-Portuguese fusion culture, which has influenced the cuisine, architecture, and society. The state is famous for its beaches, temples, churches, and architecture. Both Christian and local celebrations are popular and Christmas, Easter, Carnival, Diwali, and Dasara are all celebrated with equal gusto.