Goencar, Goeses or गोंयकार
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(Some notable Goans) Some notable Goans (including those of ancestral descent)
Regions with significant populations
Rest of India
Outside Republic of India
Konkani, Portuguese (Historical)
English, Marathi, Urdu
Global Predominance:
Christian cross.svg Christianity (Roman Catholicism)*
Global Minority:
Om.svg Hinduism*, Star and Crescent.svg Islam and others
Related ethnic groups
Other Konkani people,
East Indians, Mangalorean Catholics, Luso-Indian People

*Due to mass emigration of people (mainly Goan Catholics) from Goa, as well as mass immigration from mainland India, since 1961, the Ethnic, Religious and Cultural Demographics of Goa State have been severely altered. This exchange of population has made the natives a virtual minority in their homeland.[1]
  • Note: This article is for information on the ethnic Goan people (many in diaspora), and not residents living within the Indian State of Goa

Goans (Konkani: गोंयकार, Romi lipi: Goencar, Portuguese: Goeses) is the demonym used to describe the people native to Goa, India, who form an ethno-linguistic group resulting from the assimilation of Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Indo-Portuguese and Austro-Asiatic ethnic and/or linguistic ancestries.[2][3] They speak different dialects of Konkani natively. Goanese is an incorrect usage for Goans.[4]


Konkani is the native language of the Konkan Coast, and is the official and primary language of Goa
Geographic Distribution of Native Konkani Speakers within India

Goans are multilingual, but mainly speak the Konkani language, a Prakrit based language belonging to the Southern group of Indo-Aryan Languages. Various dialects of Konkani spoken by the Goans which include Bardezkari, Saxtti, Pednekari and Antruz. The Konkani spoken by the Catholics is notably different from those of the Hindus, since it has a lot of Portuguese influence in its vocabulary.[5] Konkani was suppressed for official documentation use only not for unofficial use under the Portuguese governance, playing a minor part in education of the past generations. All Goans were educated in Portuguese in the past when Goa was an overseas province of Portugal. A small minority of Goans are descendants of the Portuguese, speak Portuguese and are of Luso-Indian ethnicity,[6] however a number of native Christians also used Portuguese as their first language prior to 1961.

Goans use Devanagari (official) and Latin script (liturgical and historical) for education as well as communication (personal, formal and religious). However the entire liturgy of the Catholic church is solely in the Latin script. In the past Goykanadi, Modi, Kannada and Persian scripts were also used which later fell into disuse owing to many social, political and religious reasons.[7][8]

Portuguese is still spoken as a first language by a number of Goans, though it is mainly restricted to upper-class Catholic families and the older generation. However, the annual number of Goans learning Portuguese as a second language has been continuously increasing in the 21st century.[9]

The Marathi language has played a significant role for Hindus near the northern borders of Goa close to Maharashtra and parts of Novas Conquistas. This is due to the influx of ethnic Marathi people since the 20th century.[10]


Ethnic Goans are predominantly Christians followed by Hindus and a small Muslim community. As per the 1909 statistics, the Catholic population was 293,628 out of a total population 365,291 (80.33%).[11] Within Goa, there has been a steady decline of Christianity due to Goan emigration, and a steady rise of Hinduism and Islam, due to non-Goan immigration. Conversion seems to play little role in the demographic change. According to the 2011 census, in a population of 1,458,545 people, 66.1% were Hindu, 25.1% were Christian, and 8.3% were Muslim.[12]


The Catholics display Portuguese influence, due to over 451 years of direct rule by, and interaction with, the Portuguese people as an overseas province. Portuguese names are common among the Christians. The caste system is still followed, but to a lesser degree as compared to other Indians. There are some distinct Bamonn, Chardó, Gauddo and Sudir communities in Goa that are mainly endogamous. Most Catholic families also share Portuguese ancestry, and some openly count themselves as 'mestiço' or mixed-race. This has resulted in an ethnicity that is unique and culturally different from the people around them.


Goan Hindus refer to themselves as Konkane (Devanagari Konkani: कोंकणे), meaning the residents of an area broadly identified as Konkan.[13] Hindus in Goa are divided into many different castes and sub-castes, known as Jatis. They use their village names to identify their clans, some of them use titles. Some are known by the occupation their ancestors have been practising; Nayak, Borkar, Raikar, Keni, Prabhu, Kamat, Lotlikar, Chodankar, Mandrekar, Naik, Bhat, Tari, Gaude are examples.


Only a small number of native Muslims remain and are known as Moir, the word is derived from the Portuguese Mouro, which means Moor. Muçulmano was the word later used in Portuguese to identify them.[14]


There are minuscule numbers of the Goan diaspora now converted to Sikhism and Buddhism, as well as a few atheists.[citation needed]

Geographical distribution[edit]

Goans have been migrating all along the Konkan Coast and across the world for the last six centuries because of socio-religious and economic reasons. The Indian diaspora have been assimilated with other Konkani people of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. Many Goans have settled in the Gulf, the U.K. and the Greater Angloshpere as well as the former Portuguese territories, including Portugal itself. Goans across the globe refer to the publication, Goan Voice for news about members from their community.

Migrations prior to 1550[edit]

There are no definitive records of Goan migration prior to the Portuguese conquests in the region of Goa. One reason being that the Goan people were not a distinct ethnic group as yet.

Migrations from 1550-1700s (First Phase)[edit]

The first recorded instances of significant emigrations of Goans could be traced back to the arrival of the Portuguese in Goa. Sizable numbers of Goan Hindus in 17th-18th centuries fled to Mangalore and Canara, in order to flee from the conversion efforts. They were soon followed by the newly converted Goan Catholics, who fled the Goa Inquisition. [15] There were flights from Goa to escape taxation as well as epidemics during the same time period.[16] It was also during the latter part this period, when Goans (mainly Catholics) started traveling overseas. Though miniscule, there were migrations of Goans to other parts of the global Portuguese Empire, such as Lisbon, Ormuz, Muscat, Timor, Brasil, Malaca, Pegu, and Colombo. 48 Goan Catholics permanently migrated to Portugal in 18th Century.[17] There was a self-imposed ban on Goan Hindus on overseas travel, imposed by the Dharamasastras, due to the belief that crossing salt water would corrupt oneself.[18]

Migrations from 1800s-1950s (Second Phase)[edit]

During the Napoleonic Wars Goa was occupied by the British Raj, and many of their vessels were anchored in the Morumugão harbour.[19] These ships were serviced by native Goans, who then left for British India once the ships had moved on.[18] The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1878 played an important role in speeding the emigration of Goans in the latter half of the 19th Century, since it gave the British the authority to construct the West of India Portuguese Railway, which connected the Velhas Conquistas to the Bombay Presidency. They primarily moved to the cities of Bombay (now Mumbai), Poona (now Pune), Calcutta (now Kolkata)[20] and Karachi.[21] The Goans who moved to mainland India were of both, Christian as well as Hindu, origin.[22]

A small number of Goans moved to Burma, to join the already established community in Pegu (now Bago). Another destination for mainly the Catholic community, was Africa. Most of the emigrants hailed from the province of Bardes, due to their high literacy rate, and the Velhas Conquistas region in general.[20] Immigration into Africa came to end after the Decolonisation of Africa, during the 1950-60s.

In 1880, there 29,216 Goans who left Goa.[23] By 1954, this number rose to 180,000.

Migration from 1960s-Present (Current Phase)[edit]

After the Annexation of Goa in 1961 by the Republic of India, there has been a steep rise in the number of emigrants of Goan origin. Many had applied and were granted Portuguese passports in order to obtain a European residence. The educated class found it difficult to get jobs within Goa due to the high influx of non-Goans into Goa, and this encouraged many of them to move to the Gulf states.[15]

Until the early 1970s there were substantial populations of Goans in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. There have also, historically, been Goans in former British colonies of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, and Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola. The end of colonial rule brought a subsequent process of Africanisation and a wave of expulsion of South Asians from Uganda (1972) and Malawi (1974) forced the community to migrate elsewhere.[22]

Currently it is estimated that there are around 600,000 Goans living outside India.[24]


Since the Second Phase of migrations, the Goans have had a variety of professions. In British India they were personal butlers or physicians to the English and Parsi elite in India. On the Ships and Cruise liners they were sailors, stewards, chefs, musicians and dancers.Many have also been working on oil rigs.Many Goan doctors worked in African colonies of Portugal. Goan doctors were also active in British India.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rajesh Ghadge (2015), The story of Goan Migration.
  2. ^ Pereira, José (2000). Song of Goa: mandos of yearning. Aryan Books International. pp. 234 pages. ISBN 9788173051661.
  3. ^ Cabral e Sá, Mário (1997). Wind of fire: the music and musicians of Goa. Promilla & Co. pp. 373 pages(see page 62). ISBN 9788185002194.
  4. ^ Pinto, Cecil (2003-11-07). "Goanese & non-Goans". Goa Today magazine. Goa Publications. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  5. ^ Anvita Abbi; R. S. Gupta; Ayesha Kidwai (2001). Linguistic structure and language dynamics in South Asia: papers from the proceedings of SALA XVIII Roundtable. Motilal Banarsidass, 2001 – Language Arts & Disciplines -. pp. 409 pages (Chapter 4 Portuguese influence on Konkani syntax). ISBN 9788120817654.
  6. ^ "Publications". COSPAR Information Bulletin. 2003 (156): 106. April 2003. Bibcode:2003CIBu..156..106.. doi:10.1016/s0045-8732(03)90031-3. ISSN 0045-8732.
  7. ^ National Archives of India. 34. National Archives of India. p. 1985.
  8. ^ Kamat, Krishnanand Kamat. "The origin and development of Konkani language". www.kamat.com. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  9. ^ "1.500 pessoas estudam português em Goa". Revista MACAU. 2 June 2014.
  10. ^ Malkarnekar, Gauree (14 August 2019). "After Karnataka & Maha, UP gives Goa the most migrants". Times of India.
  11. ^ Hull, Ernest (1909). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.
  12. ^ "India's religions by numbers". The Hindu (published 26 August 2015). 29 March 2016. Archived from the original on 10 January 2016. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  13. ^ Kulakarṇī, Indian Council of Historical Research, A. Rā (2006). Explorations in the Deccan history Volume 9 of Monograph series. Pragati Publications in association with Indian Council of Historical Research. pp. 217 pages(see page 129). ISBN 9788173071089.
  14. ^ Śiroḍakara, Mandal, Pra. Pā,H. K. ,Anthropological Survey of India (1993). People of India: Goa Volume 21 of People of India, Kumar Suresh Singh Volume 21 of State Series, Kumar Suresh Singh. Anthropological Survey of India. pp. 283 pages. ISBN 9788171547609.
  15. ^ a b F, da Silva (1997). "F da Silva GRACIAS, The Impact of Portuguese Culture on Goa – A Myth or a Reality?". Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi.
  16. ^ de Souza, Teotónio (1979). Teotónio de Souza (1979), Medieval Goa. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. p. 116.
  17. ^ Disney, Anthony (1996). Anthony Disney (1996), The Gulf Route from India to Portugal in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Actas do XII Seminário Internacional de História Indo-Portuguesa. p. 532.
  18. ^ a b da Silva GRACIAS, Fatima (2000). Fatima da Silva GRACIAS (2000) Goans Away From Goa : Migration to the Middle East. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. p. 432.
  19. ^ Fernandes, Paul (2017). "Dona Paula's forgotten British cemetery gets a new lease of life". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  20. ^ a b Pinto, J. B. (1962). J. B. Pinto (1962), Goan Emigration. Panjim.
  21. ^ Khan, Haward R. (1980). Haward, R. Khan, 1980, 'An Urban Minority: The Goan Christian Community in Karachi'. London: University of London.
  22. ^ a b De Souza, Teotonio R. (1989). Essays in Goan history. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 219 pages(see pages 187–190). ISBN 9788170222637.
  23. ^ Paco Patriarcal (Patriarchal Archives), Rois de Cristandade : Rois de Ilhas, 1870-1889. Rois de Ilhas. 1870–1889.
  24. ^ Pereira, José (2000). Song of Goa: mandos of yearning. Aryan Books International. pp. 234 pages. ISBN 9788173051661.
  25. ^ Fatima da Silva Gracias (1994). Health and Hygiene in Colonial Goa, 1510-1961. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 199, 225–226. ISBN 978-81-7022-506-5.