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 province; the Portuguese overseas territory of Portuguese India existed for about 450 years until it was annexed by India in 1961. Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year for its beaches, places of worship and World heritage architecture. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot.
Goa's history goes back 20,000–30,000 years. The rock art engravings exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India :p.254Upper Paleolithic or Mesolithic rock art engravings have been found on the bank of the river Kushavati at Usgalimal. Petroglyphs, cones, stone-axe, and choppers dating to 10,000 years ago have been found in many places in Goa, such as Kazur, Mauxim, and the Mandovi-Zuari basin. Evidence of Palaeolithic life is seen at Dabolim, Adkon, Shigao, Fatorpa, Arli, Maulinguinim, Diwar, Sanguem, Pilerne, and Aquem-Margaon etc. Difficulty in carbon dating the laterite rock compounds poses a problem for determining the exact time period.
Early Goan society underwent radical changes when Indo-Aryan and Dravidian migrants amalgamated with the aboriginal locals, forming the base of early Goan culture. In the 3rd century BC, Goa was part of the Maurya Empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor, Ashoka of Magadha. Buddhist monks laid the foundation of Buddhism in Goa. Between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD, Goa was ruled by the Bhojas of Goa.
Chutus of Karwar also ruled some parts as feudatories of the Satavahanas of Kolhapur (2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD), Western Kshatrapas (around 150 AD), the Abhiras of Western Maharashtra, Bhojas of the Yadav clans of Gujarat, and the Konkan Mauryas as feudatories of the Kalachuris. The rule later passed to the Chalukyas of Badami, who controlled it between 578 to 753, and later the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed from 753 to 963. From 765 to 1015, the Southern Silharas of Konkan ruled Goa as the feudatories of the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas. Over the next few centuries, Goa was successively ruled by the Kadambas as the feudatories of the Chalukyas of Kalyani. They patronised Jainism in Goa.
Geography and climate
Goa encompasses an area of 3,702 km sq (1,429 sq mi). It lies between the latitudes 14°53′54″ N and 15°40′00″ N and longitudes 73°40′33″ E and 74°20′13″ E. Most of Goa is a part of the coastal country known as the Konkan, which is an escarpment rising up to the Western Ghats range of mountains, which separate it from the Deccan Plateau. The highest point is the Sonsogor, with an altitude of 1,167 metres (3,829 ft). Goa has a coastline of 101 km (63 mi).
Tourism is generally focused on the coastal areas of Goa, with decreased tourist activity inland. In 2010, there were more than two million tourists reported to have visited Goa, about 1.2 million of whom were from abroad. As of 2013 Goa was the destination of choice for Indian and foreign tourists, particularly Britons, with limited means who wanted to party. The state was hopeful that changes could be made which would attract a more upscale demographic.
Over 450 years of Portuguese rule and the influence of the Portuguese culture presents to visitors to Goa a different environment than what is to be found elsewhere in India. The state of Goa is famous for its excellent beaches, churches, and temples. The Bom Jesus Cathedral, Fort Aguada and a new wax museum on Indian history, culture and heritage in Old Goa are other tourism destinations.
People and culture
The tableau of Goa showcases religious harmony by focusing on the Deepastambha, the Cross, Ghode Modni followed by a chariot. Western royal attire of kings and regional dances being performed depict the unique blend of different religions and cultures of the State. The festival of music and dance, Shigmo Mel or the Holi and Spring celebrations, signify unity in diversity. Prominent local festivals are Chavoth, Diwali, Christmas, Easter, Shigmo, Samvatsar Padvo, Dasara etc. The Goan Carnival and new year celebration is known to attract a large number of tourists. Gomant Vibhushan is the highest civilian honour of the State of Goa. It is given annually by Government of Goa since 2010