Think you're familiar with India's sunshine state? Here are 10 interesting facts about Goa, a state in India, that you might not have known...
1. Over a third of Goa is covered by forest
When people think of Goa, they're probably thinking about long sandy beaches, but much of the state is also covered by forest. Goa is India's tropical paradise.
Around 20% of the land in Goa falls into the beautiful Western Ghats of India, a vast mountain range and a treasure house of biodiversity.
The forests here are teeming with exotic wildlife, including Indian giant squirrels, mongoose, Slender Loris, Indian macaques and sloth bears.
Indian macaque in Mollem National Park
2. There are almost 7,000 bars to choose from
Goa is widely known as India's party district, and is visited by thousands of sun-seeking tourists each year.
The state has fulfilled popular demand, with close to 7,000 bars across the state to choose from – and plenty of cheap alcohol. North Goa is generally more lively, although the South has its fair share of beach parties too.
3. Goa is India's smallest state
Covering an area of 1,429 square miles, it's only slightly bigger than Devon but has a coastline that stretches for 99 miles.
That's not to say that the state has a small number of attractions and things to do; in fact, it's quite the opposite!
Mobor beach, outside The Leela
4. Goa has the highest per capita income in India
Goa is one of India's wealthiest states, largely thanks to its booming tourist industry.
This beautiful state has also been ranked as the best place in terms of infrastructure and living standards.
5. It's home to India's only legitimate two-wheeler taxis
This is the only place in India where you can pay a motorcyclist for a lift, without worrying about riding off with a complete stranger!
Goa is full of motorcycle taxis and riders, known as pilots, and they're known as the state's most cost-effective form of transport.
6. Portugal ruled Goa for almost 450 years
In 1524, the Portuguese captain Vasco da Gama landed in Goa. More Portuguese arrived in 1510, looking to gain control of the spice root from the East, and two years later Goa became a Portuguese colony.
Goa's colonial history is apparent wherever you go, from the state capital of Panjim & Fontanhas to the churches, museums and colourful houses dotted across the state.
Even the food in Goa showcases the state's Portuguese influence! Feijoada is a must-try – a Portuguese bean stew with either curried pork or beef.
Panjim's old Portuguese quarter
7. Goa celebrates two independence days
India became an independent country, free from British rule, on 15th August 1947, but the Portuguese refused to release control of Goa.
Goa’s struggle for independence was fought both from within Goa as well as outside, and on 17th December 1961, the Indian Army, air force and naval forces invaded Goa and overpowered the under-prepared Portuguese army.
On 18th December, the Portuguese governor officially surrendered, and the next day, Goa officially became a part of India! Goa celebrates this second independence day on 19th December every year.
8. Over 400 species of birds have made Goa their home
There are currently six conservation areas where you can head to explore the birdlife, including the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in South Goa, and the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Central Goa.
If you're lucky you'll spot some very rare birds, including the Long-billed Vulture, Darter, Great Pied Hornbill, Indian Skimmer and the Asian Fairy Bluebird.
Asian Fairy Bluebird
9. Goa has one of India's largest waterfalls
The Dudhsagar Waterfalls can be found in the far east of the state, and is recognised as the second-highest waterfall in the whole of India, measuring an impressive 603 metres tall.
Surrounded by dense jungle, and cascading down a mountainside behind a railway line, it's a sight to behold. Witness its beauty with your own eyes, and even take a dip.
10. Some of India's oldest rocks are found here
Geologists claim that evidence of human inhabitants in Goa can be traced back to the Stone Age.
Some of the oldest rocks in India are found in Goa between Molem and Anmod. Classified as Trondjemeitic Gneiss, these rocks are over 3,600 million years old!