Diu - Encyclopedia

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DIU, an island and town of India, belonging to Portugal, and situated at the southern extremity of the peninsula of Kathiawar. Area of district, 20 sq. m. Pop. (1900) 14,614. The anchorage is fairly protected from the sea, but the depth of water is only 3 to 4 fathoms. The channel between the island on Diu and the mainland is navigable only by fishing boats and small craft. The town is well fortified on the old system, being surrounded by a wall with towers at regular intervals. Many of the inhabitants are the well-known Banyan merchants of the east coast of Africa and Arabia. Native spirits are distilled from the palm, salt is made and fish caught. The trade of the town, however, is decayed. There are remains of several fine ancient buildings. The cathedral or Se Matriz, dating from 1601, was formerly a Jesuit college. The mint, the arsenal and several convents (now ruined or converted to other uses) are also noteworthy. The Portuguese, under treaty with Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, built a fort here in 1 535, but soon quarrelled with the natives and were besieged in 1538 and 1545. The second siege is one of the most famous in Indo-Portuguese history, and is the subject of an epic by Jeronymo Corte Real.

See R. S. Whiteway, Rise of the Portuguese Power in India (1898).

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