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Goa Tourism : Goa Travel Guide : People and Population of Goa

People and Population of Goa

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Despite over four centuries of Portuguese dominance, earlier characteristics of goa’s population are still obvious. While during the Inquisition the Portuguese made systematic efforts to wipe out all social traces of the earlier Hindu and Muslim cultures, many of their features were simply modified to conform to external Catholic demands.

The visitor’s first impression of the religion of Goa’s people is likely to be highly misleading. To the appearances the drive from the airport to Panaji or south to any of the coastal resorts might appear to

People and Population of Goa

confirm that the state is predominantly Christian. Brilliant white painted churches dominate the centre of nearly every village. Yet while in the area of the Old Conquest tens of thousands of people were indeed converted to Christianity, the Zuari River represents a great divide between Christian and predominantly Hindu Goa. Today about 70% of the state’s population is Hindu, and there is also a small but significant Muslim minority.

In the past poverty caused large number of Goans to emigrate. Many are famous in Mumbai, Mozambique, Natal and elsewhere. Most are of part Portuguese descent and bear Portuguese names like de Silva and Fernandes, a result of Portugal’s policy of encouraging inter-marriage (to maintain settler populations in climates that exacted a high toll on Europeans). This intermingling has spread to the church – the complexions
of the saints and madonnas are those of South Asia.

Goa’s population has grown hugely since Independence. In 1961 the population was 5,90,000, at the last national census (2001) it had burgeoned to around 1.34 million. The spiraling figures reflect more than anything else, the huge influx of Indians from elsewhere in the country.

CarnivalThe state’s huge migrant population is predominantly made up of extremely poor workers who arrive in Goa during the dry season in search of employment, mostly as labourers. There is another influx of visitors from as far afield as Nepal and Kashmir who come to sell goods to tourists. Whole families of women and children from Karnataka, Kerala and even Rajasthan travel to Goa to peddle handicrafts and fruit on the beaches.

Goa has a unique mix of people. Just under 30% of the population are Christian, most of whom are based in the central talukas that made up the area of the Old Conquests – Tiswadi, Mormugao, Bardez and Salcete. Approximately 65% of Goans are Hindus who tend to predominate in the areas of the outlying talukas that formed the New Conquests (Novas Conquistas) – Pernem, Bicholim, Satari, Ponda, Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona. Another 5% of the state’s population are Muslims and less than 1% belongs to other religions. Of particular note are the members of three dwindling minorities – the Dhangars, Velips and Kunbis – who live in the forested areas of the east and southeast of Goa. Only 2% of Goa’s population is made up of the Scheduled Castes (the official term for Dalits or Untouchables) and 0.03% belongs to Scheduled Tribes.


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