Mormugao is located at 15.25°N 73.98°E / 15.25; 73.98. It has an average elevation of 2 metres (7 feet).
As of 2001 India census, Mormugão had a population of 97,085. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Mormugão has an average literacy rate of 75%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 80%, and female literacy is 70%. In Mormugão, 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.
When the Portuguese colonised part of Goa in the sixteenth century, they based their operations in the central district of Tiswadi, notably in the international emporium 'City of Goa', now Old Goa. As threats to their maritime supremacy increased, they built forts on various hillocks, especially along the coast. In 1624, they began to build their fortified town on the headland overlooking Mormugão harbour.
The sultans of Bijapur, who had colonised Goa before the Portuguese, did not give up easily. There were several invasions. From the sea came the Dutch, who eventually took over from the Portuguese most of the coastal settlements: the Moluccas, Batticaloa, Trincomali, Galle, Malacca, Manar, Jaffna, Quilon, Cochin and Cannanore. From 1640 to 1643, the Dutch tried their best to capture Mormugão but were finally driven away.
In 1683, the Portuguese in Goa were in grave danger from the Marathas. Almost certain defeat was averted when Sambhaji suddenly lifted siege and rushed to defend his own kingdom from the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The narrow escape, no less than the decline of the City of Goa, convinced the Portuguese viceroy, Dom Francisco de Távora, that he should shift the capital of the Portuguese holdings in India to Mormugão’s formidable fortress.
In 1685, the new city’s principal edifices were under construction, with the Jesuit priest Father Teotónio Rebelo in charge. The Jesuit architects made a consistent effort to avoid the ornate style of the time. The austere viceregal palace still stands, having been used, after its short stint as a palace, in various capacities, including as the hotel which housed the British agents who in 1943 destroyed German ships anchored in Mormugão’s neutral waters. Viceroys after Távora found Mormugão too secluded for their liking. The administrative headquarters were moved to the new city of Panjim, which is till today Goa’s chief city.
Ever since it was accorded the status of a Major Port in 1963, the Mormugão port has contributed immensely to growth of maritime trade in India. It is the leading iron ore exporting port of India with an annual throughput of around 27.33 million tonnes of iron ore traffic.
Epidemics devastated Mormugão during the eighteenth century, but after that its fortunes turned. As the importance of one of India’s best natural harbours grew more apparent, Mormugão, which the British called Marmagoa, became a key trading point. It was chosen for the terminus of the new metre gauge railway linking the Portuguese colony to British India. For a fabulous price, the Western India Portuguese Guaranteed Railways Company, a British enterprise, modernised the port and built the railway. Both were opened to the public in July 1886.
Mormugão’s city of Vasco da Gama was planned and built in the early years of the twentieth century. A colourful city of officials, traders and migrant labourers, it had its Portuguese academies and British club life for several decades. Now rather scarred, Mormugão district continues to be unique in Goa.
With Goa’s airport at Dabolim, the railway terminus at Vasco da Gama, and the busy port, Mormugão is many visitors’ first experience of Goa.
The area is part of the South Goa (Lok Sabha constituency) (also known as Mormugão (Lok Sabha constituency) ). The Congress candidate Francisco Sardinha won the 2007 Lok Sabha bypoll elections, defeating his close rival Dr. Wilfred Mesquita of the Bharatiya Janata Party by a margin of over 40,000 votes.
In the 2014 General elections, Adv. Narendra Keshav Sawaikar of the Bharatiya Janata Party won by a margin of over 32,330 votes defeating the closest rival from Congress party.
Mormugão taluka also elects an MLA to the Goa State Assembly. The current MLA is Milind Naik of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Mormugão has many schools of repute which provides quality education to the residents in and around Vasco-da-Gama. Murgaon Education Society was established in 1971 with the noble goal of providing educational facilities at Vasco-da-Gama and in other parts of Murgaon Taluka. Mormugao Educational Society's College of Arts and Commerce locally known as MES College is a famous institution situated in Zuarinagar, which provides higher education in Arts and Commerce along with Birla Institute of Science and Technology (BITS) that caters to university level of education in the fields of engineering and medicine.