Thursday, January 28, 2010
Goa is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located on the west coast of 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.
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. The Portuguese overseas territory 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 name Goa came to European languages from the Portuguese, but its precise origin is unclear. In ancient literature, Goa was known by many names such as Gomanta, Gomanchala, Gopakapattam, Gopakapuri, Govapuri, Govem, and Gomantak. The Indian epic Mahabharata refers to the area now known as Goa, as Goparashtra or Govarashtra which means a nation of cowherds. Gopakapuri or Gopakapattanam were used in some ancient Sanskrit texts, and these names were also mentioned in other sacred Hindu texts such as the Harivansa and the Skanda Purana. In the latter, Goa is also known as Gomanchala. Parashurambhoomi is a name that the region is referred to in certain inscriptions and texts such as the Puranas. In the third century BCE, Goa was known as Aparantha, and is mentioned by the Greek geographer Ptolemy. The Greeks referred to Goa as Nelkinda in the 13th century. Some other historical names for Goa are Sindapur, Sandabur, and Mahassapatam.
Tourism is Goa's primary industry: it handles 12% of all foreign tourist arrivals in India. Goa has two main tourist seasons: winter and summer. In the winter time, tourists from abroad (mainly Europe) come to Goa to enjoy the splendid climate. In the summer time (which, in Goa, is the rainy season), tourists from across India come to spend the holidays. Tourism is generally focused on the coastal areas of Goa, with decreased tourist activity inland. In 2004, there were more than 2 million tourists reported to have visited Goa, 400,000 of which were from abroad.
The land away from the coast is rich in minerals and ores and mining forms the second largest industry. Mining in Goa focuses on ores of iron, Bauxite, manganese, clays, limestone and silica. The Marmagao Port handled 31.69 million tonnes of cargo last year, and accounts for over 39% of India's Iron Ore exports. The leaders in the Goan Iron Ore industry include Sesa Goa (now owned by Vedanta) and Dempo. Rampant mining in areas rich in Iron Ore and other minerals is now threatening the forest cover as well as posing a health hazard to the local population. Mining corporations are also indulging in illegal mining in some areas without proper permits.
Goa's sole airport, the Dabolim Airport, is both a military and civilian airport catering to domestic and international airlines that stop en route to other Indian destinations. The airport also handles a large number of chartered flights. Goa receives international flights from Dubai, Sharjah and Kuwait in the Middle East and from the United Kingdom, Germany and Russia during the charter flight tourist season. Dabolim airport is serviced by the following carriers – Air India, Indian Airlines, Kingfisher Airlines, Go Air, SpiceJet, Jet Airways besides Charter flights from the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany operated by Thomas Cook, Condor, Monarch Airlines etc.
Tourism is generally focused on the coastal areas of Goa, with decreased tourist activity inland. In 2004 there were more than two million tourists reported to have visited Goa, 400,000 of whom were from abroad.
Goa has two main tourist seasons: winter and summer. In the winter time, tourists from abroad (mainly Europe) come to Goa to enjoy the splendid climate. In the summertime (which, in Goa, is the rainy season), tourists from across India come to spend the holidays.
With the rule of the Portuguese for over 450 years and the consequential influence of Portuguese culture, Goa presents a somewhat different picture to the foreign visitor than other parts of the country. The state of Goa is famous for its excellent beaches, churches, and temples. The Bom Jesus cathedral, Fort Aguada and a new a wax museum on Indian history, culture and heritage in Old Goa are other tourism destinations.