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Goa is actually squeezed between the seas and the lush forested hills. It has beautiful beach strips fringed with coconut palms and ultra fresh seafood. It was a Portuguese colony until 1961. Sometimes known as "Rome of the East", "Tourist Paradise" and "Pearl of the Orient”, the state of Goa is located on the western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan. Panaji (Panjim) is the state capital located on the banks of the Mondovi river and Vasco, Margao, Mapusa and Ponda are the other major towns. The magnificent scenic and serene beauty and the architectural splendors of its temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favorite with travelers around the world. The best time to visit Goa is the winter season, when the whole city is decorated with lights and balloons and the people are in festive mood. Goa has a blend of western and the Indian culture. Goa has a multi-hued and distinctive lifestyle quite different from the rest of India. Goa offers tourism like beach, wildlife and monument tourism. Goa was liberated by the Indian Army from Portuguese colonization on December 19, 1961 and became a Union Territory along with the enclaves of Daman and Diu. On May 30, 1987 Goa was conferred statehood and became the 25th state of the Indian Republic. The warm and tolerant nature of the Goan people allows them to celebrate and enjoy the festivals of various religions such as Ganesh Chaturthi,Diwali, Christmas, Easter and Eid with equal enthusiasm. The tourist season in Goa begins in late September and carries on through early March. The weather in these months is usually dry and pleasantly cool. Besides the natural beauty, the fabulous beaches and sunshine, travelers to Goa love the laid-back, peaceful, warm and friendly nature of the Goan people. Goa offers different types of tourism ranging from beach to wildlife. The staple food of Goa is rice and Fish. Most commonly used languages are Konkani, Marathi and English. Goa is serviced by an international/national airport located at Dabolim near Vasco. It is well connected by rail and road too.