Goa is India’s smallest state in terms of area and the fourth smallest in terms of 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 (also referred to as Panjim) is the state’s capital. Vasco da Gama (sometimes shortened to Vasco) is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the influence of Portuguese culture. Portuguese merchants first landed in Goa in the early 16th century, and annexed it soon after. The Portuguese colony existed for about 450 years (one of the longest held colonial possessions in the world), until it was taken over by India in 1961.
Renowned for its beaches, temples and world heritage architecture, Goa is visited by hundreds of thousands of international and domestic tourists each year.
Goa encompasses an area of 3,702 km² (1,430 sq mile). 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 meters (3,827 feet). Goa has a coastline of 101 km (63 miles).
Goa’s main rivers are the Mandovi, the Zuari, the Terekhol, Chapora River and the Betul. The Mormugao harbor on the mouth of the river Zuari is one of the best natural harbors in South Asia. The Zuari and the Mandovi are the lifelines of Goa, with their tributaries draining 69% of its geographic area. Goa has more than forty estuarine, eight marine and about ninety riverine islands. The total navigable length of Goa’s rivers is 253 km (157 miles). Goa has more than three hundred ancient tanks built during the rule of the Kadamba dynasty and over a hundred medicinal springs.
Most of Goa’s soil cover is made up of laterites which are rich in ferric aluminium oxides and reddish in color. Further inland and along the river banks, the soil is mostly alluvial and loamy. The soil is rich in minerals and humus, thus conducive to plantation. Some of the oldest rocks in the Indian subcontinent are found in Goa between Molem and Anmod on Goa’s border with Karnataka. The rocks are classified as Trondjemeitic Gneiss estimated to be 3,600 million years old, dated by the Rubidium isotope dating method. A specimen of the rock is exhibited in the Goa University.
The state is divided into two districts: North Goa and South Goa. Panaji is the headquarters of the north Goa district and Margao of the south district. Each district is governed by a district collector, an administrator appointed by the Indian government.
The districts are further divided into eleven talukas – Talukas of North Goa are Bardez, Bicholim, Pernem, Ponda, Satari and Tiswadi, the talukas of South Goa are Canacona, Mormugao, Quepem, Salcete and Sanguem. Headquarters of the respective talukas are Mapusa, Bicholim, Pernem, Ponda, Valpoi, Panjim, Chaudi, Vasco, Quepem, Margao and Sanguem.
Goa is well known for its iron and manganese ores. Bauxite and laterite are the other minerals produced in the state. Iron and manganese ore belts extend from south-east to north-west of the state. Important iron ore deposits are located in Bicholim, Sanguem and Satari talukas. Manganese ores are associated with iron ores and occur as pockets of various sizes in the form of concretionary pebbles in shales. Important manganese ore deposits are confined to the southern and south-eastern parts of Sanguem taluka. Bauxite occurs in South-eastern parts of Goa.