Goa is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its western coast. Goa is India's richest state with a GDP per capita two and a half times that of the country as a whole. It was ranked the best placed state by the Eleventh Finance Commission for its infrastructure and ranked on top for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission on Population based on the 12 Indicators.
Panaji is the state's capital, while Vasco da Gama is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of the Portuguese, who first landed in the early 16th century as merchants and conquered it soon thereafter. Goa is a former Portuguese colony, the Portuguese overseas territory of Portuguese India existed for about 450 years until it was annexed by India in 1961.
Renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture, Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot.
The state of Goa covers an area of 3,702 sq. km.
A brief summary of the 2001 census: Goa's population is 13,47,668 with 6,87,248 Males and 6,60,420 Females. The growth of 14.8 per cent, during 1991 to 2000, is lower than the 16.08 per cent recorded during 1981 to 1990.
The sex-ratio (number of females per thousand males) in Goa is 961 in 2001 compared to 967 in 1991 and the national ratio of 933.
The density of population per sq km in Goa is 364 in 2001 as compared to 316 in 1991. North Goa has a much higher density (437) as compared to South Goa (300). The national figure is 324.
The literacy rate of 82 per cent is far higher than the national rate pf 65.38 per cent. 88.4 per cent of the male and 75.4 per cent of the female population is literate.
64.68 per cent of the population is Hindu, 29.86 per cent is Christian and Muslims are a minority of 5.25 per cent.
Around 0.15 to 0.2 million of the total population of 13,43,998 are immigrants from around India who have settled down in Goa.
At present, Marathi and Konkani are two major languages of Goa. Hindi, the national language of India, is well understood in Goa. In major towns, English is widely used in writing and conversation.
On the other hand, Portuguese, the language of the colonial rulers and the official language till 1961 before liberation, notwithstanding the official patronage and a compulsory medium of study, failed to make a dent in the mind of the majority of Goans.
It remained only the language of the elite but alienated the masses. Thus just after the departure of the Portuguese, Portuguese lost all its favour and usage. However, very few - particularly the older or pre-liberation generation - still use Portuguese. Thus Goa is a multi-lingual state, thanks to its diverse history of thousands of years, which has seen people of various regions, ethnic races and religions from India and abroad coming over to and settling in Goa, while influencing the local language.
The major rivers flowing through the state are Mandovi, Zuari, Terekhol, Chapora and Betul. The other major rivers include the Tiracol, Chapora, Sal and the Talpona.
The state has a total forest cover of more than 1,424 sq. km covering almost one-third of the total area. Forests provide important products namely bamboo, Maratha barks, chillar barks and bhirand. These are of great economic value for rural mass. Coconut trees are present in almost the whole of Goa except in the upper regions. Goas vegetation also includes cashew, mango, jackfruits and pineapples.
Goa is rich in mineral resources. Major minerals include iron ore, manganese, ferro-manganese, bauxite and silica sand. Iron and manganese mining industries are the backbone of Goas economy.