Hawaii: Map


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Location of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean
Hawaii ( or in English; Hawaiian: Moku āina o Hawai i) is the newest of the 50 U.S. states, and is the only state made up entirely of islands. It is located on an archipelago in the central Pacific Oceanmarker, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japanmarker, and northeast of Australia. The state was admitted to the Union on August 21, 1959. Its capital is Honolulumarker on the island of Oahu. The most recent census estimate puts the state's population at 1,283,388.

The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian Island chain, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight "main islands" are (from the northwest to southeast) Niihaumarker, Kauaimarker, Oahumarker, Molokaimarker, Lanaimarker, Kahoolawemarker, Mauimarker, and Hawaiimarker. The last is by far the largest, and is often called the "Big Island" or "Big Isle" to avoid confusion with the state as a whole. This archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.

In standard American English, Hawaii is generally . In the Hawaiian language, it is generally or . Hawaii has produced one U.S. President, Barack Obama.


The Hawaiian language word Hawai i derives from Proto-Polynesian *Sawaiki, with the reconstructed meaning "homeland"; cognate words are found in other Polynesian languages, including Māori (Hawaiki), Rarotongan (ʻAvaiki), and Samoan (Savai i). (See also Hawaiki).

According to Pukui and Elbert, "Elsewhere in Polynesia, Hawai i or a cognate is the name of the underworld or of the ancestral home, but in Hawai i the name has no meaning."

Geography and environment

The main Hawaiian Islands are:


Pāhoehoe and Aā lava flows side by side at the Big Island of Hawaii in September, 2007
An archipelago situated some southwest of the North American mainland, Hawaii is the southernmost state of the United States and the second westernmost state after Alaska. Only Hawaii and Alaska are outside the contiguous United States and do not share a border with any other U.S. state.

Hawaii is the only state of the United States that:
  • is not geographically located in North America
  • grows coffee
  • is completely surrounded by water
  • is entirely an archipelago
  • has a royal palace
  • does not have a straight line in its state boundary

Map of Hawaii
Nā Pali coast, Kaua i

Hawaii's tallest mountain, Mauna Keamarker stands at but is taller than Mount Everestmarker if followed to the base of the mountain—from the floor of the Pacific Ocean, rising about .


All of the Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes erupting from the sea floor from a magma source described in geological theory as a hotspot. As the tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean moves in a northwesterly direction, the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. This explains why only volcanoes on the southern half of the Big Island, and the Lō ihi Seamountmarker deep below the waters off its southern coast, are presently active, with Lō ihi being the newest volcano to form.

The last volcanic eruption outside the Big Island occurred at Haleakalāmarker on Maui before the late 18th century, though Haleakalā's most recent eruptive activity could be hundreds of years earlier. In 1790, Kīlauea exploded in the deadliest eruption known to have occurred in what is now the United States. As many as 5,405 warriors and their families marching on Kīlaueamarker were killed in an eruption in 1790marker.

Volcanic activity and subsequent erosion created impressive geological features. The Big Island is the world's second highest island.

Slope instability of the volcanoes has generated damaging earthquakes with related tsunamis, particularly in 1868marker and 1975.

Flora and Fauna

Because of the islands' volcanic formation, native life before human activity is said to have arrived by the "3 W's": wind (carried through the air), waves (brought by ocean currents), and wings (birds, insects, and whatever they brought with them). The isolation of the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of the Pacific Oceanmarker, and the wide range of environments on high islands in and near the tropic, has resulted in a vast array of endemic flora and fauna (see Endemism in the Hawaiian Islands). Hawaii has more endangered species and has lost a higher percentage of its endemic species than anywhere in the United States.

File:Niihau sep 2007.jpg|Niihau markerFile:Kauai from space oriented.jpg|Kauai markerFile:Island of Oahu - Landsat mosaic.jpg|Oahu markerFile:Maui Landsat Photo.jpg|Maui markerFile:Molokaifromsatellite.jpg|Molokai markerFile:LanaiLandsat.jpg|Lānai markerFile:KahoolaweLandsat.jpg|Kahoolawe markerFile:Island of Hawai'i - Landsat mosaic.jpg|Hawaii marker

Protected areas

There are several areas in Hawaii under the protection of the National Park Service. Two areas are designated as national parks: Haleakala National Parkmarker near Kula, Maui, includes Haleakalāmarker, the dormant volcano that formed east Maui; and Hawaii Volcanoes National Parkmarker in the southeast region of the island of Hawaii, which includes the active volcano Kīlaueamarker and its various rift zones.

There are three national historical parks: Kalaupapa National Historical Parkmarker in Kalaupapa, Molokai, the site of a former colony for Hansen's disease patients; Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Parkmarker in Kailua-Konamarker on the island of Hawaii; and Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Parkmarker in Hōnaunau on the island of Hawaii, the site of an ancient Hawaiian place of refuge. Other areas under the control of the National Park Service include Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on the island of Hawaii and the USS Arizona Memorialmarker at Pearl Harbormarker on Oahu.

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monumentmarker was proclaimed by President George W. Bush on June 15, 2006. The monument covers roughly 140,000 square miles (360,000 km²) of reefs, atolls and shallow and deep sea (out to offshore) in the Pacific Ocean, larger than all of America's National Parks combined.


The climate of Hawaii is typical for a tropical area, although temperatures and humidity tend to be a bit less extreme due to constant trade winds from the east. Summer highs are usually in the upper 80s °F, (around 31°C) during the day and mid 70s, (around 24 °C) at night. Winter day temperatures are usually in the low to mid 80s, (around 28 °C) and (at low elevation) seldom dipping below the mid 60s (18 °C) at night. Snow, not usually associated with tropics, falls at on Mauna Keamarker and Mauna Loamarker on the Big Island in some winter months. Snow rarely falls on Maui's Haleakala. Mount Waialealemarker, on the island of Kauai, has the second highest average annual rainfall on Earth, about . Most of Hawaii has only two seasons: the dry season from May to October, and the wet season from October to April.

Local climates vary considerably on each island, grossly divisible into windward (Koolau) and leeward (Kona) areas based upon location relative to the higher mountains. Windward sides face cloud cover. The tourist industry therefore concentrates resorts on sunny leeward coasts.

Monthly normal low and high temperatures for various Hawaiian cities
City Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Hilomarker 64°F 64°F 65°F 66°F 67°F 68°F 69°F 69°F 69°F 68°F 67°F 65°F
79°F 79°F 79°F 79°F 81°F 82°F 82°F 83°F 83°F 83°F 81°F 80°F
Honolulumarker 66°F 65°F 67°F 68°F 70°F 72°F 74°F 75°F 74°F 73°F 71°F 68°F
80°F 81°F 82°F 83°F 85°F 87°F 88°F 89°F 89°F 87°F 84°F 82°F
Kahuluimarker 63°F 63°F 65°F 66°F 67°F 69°F 71°F 71°F 70°F 69°F 68°F 65°F
80°F 81°F 82°F 82°F 84°F 86°F 87°F 88°F 88°F 87°F 84°F 82°F
Lihuemarker 65°F 66°F 67°F 69°F 70°F 73°F 74°F 74°F 74°F 73°F 71°F 68°F
78°F 78°F 78°F 79°F 81°F 83°F 84°F 85°F 85°F 84°F 81°F 79°F


Hawaii is one of four U.S. states that were independent prior to becoming part of the United States, along with the Vermont Republic (1791), the Republic of Texas (1845), and the California Republicmarker (1846), and one of two (Texas was the other) with formal diplomatic recognition internationally. The Kingdom of Hawaii existed from 1810 until 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown by resident American (and some European) businessmen. It was an independent republic from 1894 until 1898, when it was annexed by the United States as a territory, until becoming a state in 1959.

Hawaii's greatest historic significance is as the target of surprise attack on Pearl Harbormarker by Imperial Japanmarker on December 7, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbormarker and other military and naval installations on O ahumarker, carried out by aircraft and by midget submarine brought the United States into World War II.

Pre-European contact — Ancient Hawaii (800-1778)

The earliest habitation supported by archaeological evidence dates to as early as 300 BCE, probably by Polynesian settlers from the Marquesasmarker, followed by a second wave of migration from Raiatea and Bora Boramarker in the 11th century. The first recorded European contact with the islands was in 1778 by British explorer James Cook.

Polynesians from the Marquesas and possibly the Society Islands may have first populated the Hawaiian Islands between 300 and 500 CE. There is a great deal of debate regarding these dates.

Some archaeologists and historians believe that there had been an early settlement from the Marquesas and a later wave of immigrants from Tahitimarker, circa 1000, who were said to have introduced a new line of high chiefs, the Kapu system, the practice of human sacrifice and the building of heiaus. This later immigration is detailed in folk tales about Pa ao. Other authors have argued that there is no archaeological or linguistic evidence for a later influx of Tahitian settlers, and that Pa ao must be regarded as a myth. However, this seems very unlikely due to the fact that the Kapu system and the practice of human sacrifice were only common in Tahitian culture.
Regardless of the question of Pa ao and the history of the Royal Hawaiian lineage, historians agree that the history of the islands was marked by a slow but steady growth in population and the size of the Kapu chiefdoms, which grew to encompass whole islands. Local chiefs, called ali i, ruled their settlements and fought to extend their sway and defend their communities from predatory rivals. This was conducted in a system of allies of various ranks similar to the tribal systems before Feudalism.

James Cook — European arrival and the Kingdom of Hawaii (1778-1893)

The 1778 arrival of British explorer James Cook is usually taken to be Hawaii's first contact with European explorers. Cook named the islands the Sandwich Islands in honor of one of his sponsors, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. He published the geographical coordinates of the islands and reported the native name as Owyhee. This erroneous translation lives on in Owyhee County, Idahomarker, which was named after three Hawaiian members of a trapping party who were killed in that area.

Cook visited the Hawaiian islands twice. During his second visit in 1779, he attempted to abduct a Hawaiian chief and hold him as ransom for return of a ship's boat that was stolen by a different minor chief; the chief's supporters fought back, and Cook was killed.

After Cook's visit and the publication of several books relating his voyages, the Hawaiian islands received many European visitors: explorers, traders, and eventually whalers who found the islands a convenient harbor and source of fresh food. Early British influence can still be seen from the design of the local Flag of Hawaii which has the British Union Flag in the corner.

Visitors introduced diseases to the formerly isolated islands, and the Hawaiian population plunged precipitously. Native Hawaiians did not have resistance to influenza, smallpox, and measles, among others. During the 1850s, measles killed a fifth of Hawaii's people.

During the 1780s and 1790s the chiefs were constantly fighting for power. After a series of battles that ended in 1795 and forced cession of the island of Kaua i in 1810, all of the inhabited islands were subjugated under a single ruler who would become known as King Kamehameha the Great. He established the House of Kamehameha, a dynasty that ruled over the kingdom until 1872.

Christian missionaries began to arrive in the early 1800s eventually converted many of the population to Christianity. Their influence led Kamehameha II to end the human sacrifice and the Kapu system, and Kamehameha III was the first Christian king.

The most famous and beloved of the missionaries was Father Damien, a Catholic priest who helped bring order and hope to the colony of lepers which had been raised on an isolated part of the island of Molokaimarker. Other well-remembered missionaries who served in the Kingdom of Hawaii included Protestant Hiram Bingham I and Joseph F. Smith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Other missionaries, however, are not remembered as fondly. A number who came to Hawaii during this period took a more earthly view of the islands and their people, and over the years began to exert influence on politics and society. A number abandoned their callings to seek commercial fortune, and to this day, when a person of any race who was born in Hawaii calls someone a "missionary," it is considered an insult. It is said that "The Protestants came to the islands to do good, and they did right well" (a colloquialism meaning that they had prospered).

The death of the bachelor King Kamehameha V — who did not name an heir — resulted in the popular election of Lunalilo over Kalākaua. Lunalilo died after only one year and 25 days in office, without naming an heir. Though it was known that he favored Emma, widow of Kamehameha IV, it is believed that "the People's King" desired the people to choose his successor as they had chosen him. In a hotly contested and allegedly fraudulent election by the legislature in 1874 between Kalākaua and Emma, which led to riots and the landing of U.S. and British troops to keep the peace, governance was passed on to the House of Kalākaua.

In 1887, under the influence of Walter M. Gibson, a group of kingdom subjects, members of the Hawaiian government, American and European businessmen forced Kalākaua under threat of arms to sign the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii which stripped the king of administrative authority, eliminated voting rights for Asians and set minimum income and property requirements for American, European and native Hawaiian voters, essentially limiting the electorate to elite Americans, Europeans and those few native Hawaiians who had amassed wealth. Because the 1887 Constitution was signed under threat of violence, it is commonly known as the "Bayonet Constitution". King Kalākaua, though nearly powerless, reigned until his death in 1891. His sister, Lili uokalani, succeeded him to the throne and ruled until her overthrow in 1893. Today Kalākaua is remembered as "the Merrie Monarch," inspiration for the premier hula festival which is held every year.

In 1893, Queen Lili uokalani announced plans to establish a new constitution that would have replaced the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii. On January 14, 1893, a group of mostly Euro-American business leaders and residents who opposed the Queen's plans formed a Committee of Safety to overthrow the Queen and seek annexation by the United States. United States Government Minister John L. Stevens, responding to a request from the Committee of Safety, summoned a company of uniformed U.S. Marines to come ashore. As one historian noted, the presence of these troops effectively made it impossible for the monarchy to protect itself.

Revolution of 1893 — the Republic of Hawaii (1893-1898)

In January 1893, Queen Lili uokalani was replaced by a Provisional Government composed of members of the Committee of Safety. There was much controversy in the following years as the queen tried to re-establish her throne. The administration of President Grover Cleveland commissioned the Blount Report, which concluded that the removal of Lili uokalani was illegal. The U.S. Government first demanded that Queen Lili uokalani be reinstated, but the Provisional Government refused. Congress responded to Cleveland's referral with another investigation, and submitted the Morgan Report by the U.S. Senate on February 26, 1894, which found all parties (including Minister Stevens) with the exception of the queen "not guilty" from any responsibility for the overthrow. The accuracy and impartiality of both the Blount and Morgan reports has been questioned by partisans on both sides of the historical debate over the events of 1893.

In 1993, a joint Apology Resolution regarding the overthrow was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton, apologizing for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It is the first time in American history that the United States government has apologized for overthrowing the legitimate government of a sovereign nation.

The Provisional Government of Hawaii ended on July 4, 1894, replaced by the Republic of Hawaiimarker.

Annexation — the Territory of Hawaii (1898-1959)

After William McKinley won the presidential election in 1896, Hawaii's annexation to the U.S. was again discussed. The previous president, Grover Cleveland, was a friend of Queen Lili uokalani. He remained opposed to annexation, but McKinley was open to persuasion by U.S. expansionists and by annexationists from Hawaii. He met with a committee of annexationists from Hawaii, Lorrin Thurston, Francis Hatch and William Kinney. After negotiations, in June 1897, McKinley agreed to a treaty of annexation with these representatives of the Republic of Hawaii. The president then submitted the treaty to the U.S. Senate for approval.

The Newlands Resolution in Congress annexed the Republic to the United States and it became the Territory of Hawaii .Despite some opposition in the islands, the Newlands Resolution was passed by the House June 15, 1898, by a vote of 209 to 91, and by the Senate on July 6, 1898, by a vote of 42 to 21. Its legality continues to be questioned because it was a United States Government resolution, not a treaty of cession or conquest as is required by international law. Both houses of the American Congress carried the measure with two-thirds majorities.

In 1900, Hawaii was granted self-governance and retained Iolani Palacemarker as the territorial capitol building. Despite several attempts at statehood, Hawaii remained a territory for sixty years. Plantation owners and key capitalists, who maintained control through financial institutions, or "factors," known as the Big Five, found territorial status convenient, enabling them to continue importing cheap foreign labor; such immigration was prohibited in various states.

Revolution of 1954 — the State of Hawaii (1959-present)

All representative districts voted at least 93% in favor of Admission acts.
Ballot (inset) and referendum results for the Admission Act of 1959.

In the 1950s the power of the plantation owners was finally broken in a non-violent revolution by descendants of immigrant laborers. Because they were born in a U.S. territory, they were legal U.S. citizens. The Hawaii Republican Party, which was strongly supported by the plantation owners, was voted out of office. The Democratic Party of Hawaii dominated state politics for 40 years. Expecting to gain full voting rights, Hawaii's residents actively campaigned for statehood.

In March 1959, both houses of Congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law. (The act excluded Palmyra Atollmarker, part of the Kingdom and Territory of Hawaii, from the new state.) On June 27 of that year, a referendum was held asking residents of Hawaii to vote on accepting the statehood bill. Hawaii voted 17 to 1 to accept. There has been criticism, however, of the Statehood plebiscite, because the only choices were to accept the Act or to remain a territory, without the option of independence or addressing the legality surrounding the overthrow. Despite the criticism, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization later removed Hawaii from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

After statehood, Hawaii quickly modernized with a construction boom and rapidly growing economy. Later, state programs promoted Hawaiian culture. The Hawaii State Constitutional Convention of 1978 incorporated as state constitutional law programs such as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to promote the indigenous Hawaiian language and culture.

Cities and towns

The movement of the Hawaiian royal family from the island of Hawaii to Maui, and subsequently to O ahu, explains why certain population centers exist where they do today. The largest city, Honolulumarker, was the one chosen by Kamehameha III as the capital of his kingdom because of the natural harbor there, the present-day Honolulu Harbor.

Now the state capital, Honolulu is located along the southeast coast of O ahu. The previous capital was Lahainamarker, Maui. Some major towns are Hilomarker, Kāne ohemarker, Kailuamarker, Pearl Citymarker, Waipahumarker, Kahuluimarker, Kailua-Konamarker, Kīheimarker, and Līhuʻemarker.



As of 2005, Hawaii has an estimated population of 1,275,194, which is an increase of 13,070, or 1.0%, from the prior year and an increase of 63,657, or 5.3%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 48,111 people (that is 96,028 births minus 47,917 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 16,956 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 30,068 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 13,112 people. The center of population of Hawaii is located directly between the two islands of O ahu and Moloka i.

Hawaii has a de facto population of over 1.3 million due to military presence and tourists. O ahu, which is nicknamed "The Gathering Place", is the most populous island (and the one with the highest population density), with a resident population of just under one million in , about 1,650 people per square mile (for comparison, New Jersey, which has 8,717,925 people in is the most-densely populated state with 1,134 people per square mile.) Hawaii's 1,275,194 people, spread over 6,423 square miles (including many unpopulated islands) results in an average population density of 188.6 persons per square mile, which makes Hawaii less densely populated than states like Ohio and Illinois.

The average projected lifespan of those born in Hawaii in the year 2000 is 79.8 years (77.1 years if male, 82.5 if female), longer than the residents of any other state.

U.S. military personnel make up approximately 1.3% of the total population in the islands.

Race and ethnicity

According to the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 27.1% of Hawaii's population; of which 24.8% were non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 2.4% of Hawaii's population; of which 2.3% were non-Hispanic blacks. American Indian made up 0.2% of the state's population; of which 0.1% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 38.5% of the state's population; of which 37.6% were non-Hispanic. Pacific Islander Americans made up 9.0% of the state's population; of which 8.6% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from some other race made up 1.4% of the population; of which 0.1% were non-Hispanic. Multiracial Americans made up 21.4% of the population; of which 17.8% were non-Hispanic. In addition, Hispanics and Latinos made up 8.7% of Hawaii's population.

Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asian Americans, mainly 175,000 Filipino Americans and 161,000 Japanese Americans. In addition, there are roughly 53,000 Chinese Americans and 40,000 Korean Americans. Indigenous Hawaiians number at 70,000 (or 5.5%). Over 110,000 Hispanic and Latino Americans make Hawaii their home. Mexicans are the largest group numbering at 37,000; Puerto Ricans number at 35,000. Also, Hawaii has the highest percentage of multiracial individuals, roughly 21% of Hawaii's population. Eurasian Americans are a prominent mixed-race group; there are roughly 61,000 Eurasian Americans in Hawaii.

The five largest European ancestries in Hawaii are German (7.4%), Irish (5.2%), English (4.6%), Portuguese (4.3%), and Italian (2.7%).In terms of nativity, 82.2% of Hawaii's residents were born in the United States while 17.8% were foreign-born. Roughly 75.0% of the foreign-born residents hail from Asia.

Hawaii is a majority-minority state in which non-Hispanic whites do not form a majority. Hawaii was the second majority-minority state. Both Hawaii and New Mexicomarker have been majority-minority since the early 20th century, but New Mexico became a state before Hawaii.

Ancestry groups

The largest ancestry groups in Hawaii as of 2008 are:
Population Of Hawaii
Ancestry Percentage Main article:
Japanesemarker (12.6%) See Japanese American
Polynesian (9.0%) See Native Hawaiians
Filipinomarker (13.6%) See Filipino American
Germanmarker (7.4%) See German American
Chinesemarker (4.1%) See Chinese American
Irishmarker (5.2%) See Irish American
Englishmarker (4.6%) See English American
Portuguesemarker (4.3%) See Portuguese American
Puerto Rican (2.8%) See Puerto Rican
Koreanmarker (3.1%) See Korean American
African (2.4%) See African American
Italianmarker (2.7%) See Italian American
Mexicanmarker (2.9%) See Mexican American
Frenchmarker (1.7%) See French American
Scottishmarker (1.2%) See Scottish American

Hawaii population density map

The third group of foreigners to arrive upon Hawaii's shores, after the Polynesians and Europeans, were the Chinese. Chinese employees serving on Western trading ships disembarked and settled starting in 1789. In 1820 the first American missionaries arrived in Hawaii to preach Christianity and teach the Hawaiians what the missionaries considered modern ways. They were instrumental in convincing Chiefs to end the practice of human sacrifice. A large proportion of Hawaii's population has become a people of Asian ancestry (especially Chinese, Japanese and Filipino) many of whom are descendants from those waves of early foreign immigrants brought to the islands in the nineteenth century, beginning in the 1850s, to work on the sugar plantations. The first 153 Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii on June 19, 1868. They were not "legally" approved by the Japanese government established after the Meiji Restoration because the contract was between a broker and the Tokugawa shogunate, by then terminated. The first Japanese government-approved immigrants arrived in Hawaii on February 9, 1885 after Kalākaua's petition to Emperor Meiji when Kalākaua visited Japan in 1881.

Almost 13,000 Portuguese had come to Hawaii by 1899. They worked on the sugar plantations, as many had done previously. By October 17, 1901, 5,000 Puerto Ricans had made their new homes on the four islands. Currently, there are over 30,000 Puerto Ricans or Hawaiian-Puerto Ricans and roughly 55,000 Hawaiian-Portuguese living in Hawaii.


The State of Hawaii has two official languages recognized in its constitution adopted at the 1978 constitutional convention: English and Hawaiian. Article XV, Section 4, specifies that "Hawaiian shall be required for public acts and transactions only as provided by law" [italic added]. Hawaii Creole English (locally referred to as 'Pidgin') is the native dialect of many born-and-raised residents and is a second dialect for many other residents.


According to the 2008 American Community Survey, 74.6% of Hawaii's residents over the age of five speak only English at home. In addition, 2.6% of the state's residents speak Spanish; 1.6% speak other Indo-European languages; 21.0% speak an Asian language; and 0.2% speak a different language at home.

Minority languages

After English, the second-, third- and fourth-most spoken individual languages are Tagalog (most are bilingual in Filipino language), Japanese, and Ilokano respectively. Significant European immigrants and descendants also speak their native languages; the most numerous are Spanish, German, Portuguese and French.

As of the 2000 Census, 73.44% of Hawaii residents age 5 and older speak only English at home. Tagalog speakers make up 5.37% (which includes non-native speakers of Filipino language, the national co-official Tagalog-based language), followed by Japanese at 4.96%, Ilokano at 4.05%, Chinese at 1.92%, Hawaiian at 1.68%, Spanish at 1.66%, Korean at 1.61%, and Samoan at 1.01%.


Hawaiian is a member of the Polynesian branch of the Austronesian family. It began to develop around 1000 A.D., when Marquesans or Tahitians of that era colonized Hawaii. Those Polynesians remained in the islands, thereby becoming the Hawaiian people. Consequently, their language developed into the Hawaiian language. Before the arrival of Captain James Cook, the Hawaiian language was never written. The written form of Hawaiian was developed mainly by American Protestant missionaries during 1820–1826. They assigned letters from the Latin alphabet that corresponded to the Hawaiian sounds.

Interest in the Hawaiian language increased significantly in the late 20th century. With the help of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, created by the 1978 constitutional convention, specially designated Hawaiian language immersion schools were established where students would be taught in all subjects using Hawaiian. Also, the University of Hawaii developed a Hawaiian language graduate studies program. Municipal codes were altered in favor of Hawaiian place and street names for new civic developments.

Hawaiian distinguishes between long and short vowels. In modern written Hawaiian, vowel length can be indicated with a macron (kahakō). Also, Hawaiian has the glottal stop as a consonant. In writing, it can be indicated with the apostrophe, with the opening single quote, or with the ( okina).

In Hawaiian-language newspapers published from 1834–1948, the spelling Hawaii was used. However, in texts written mainly for Hawaiian-language pedagogy, especially since 1950, the modern Hawaiian-language spelling used is Hawai i, with an okina written between the final two vowels. The modern spelling is pushed mainly by teachers of Hawaiian language at the University of Hawaii. However, traditional native speakers of Hawaiian generally never use okinas nor kahakos in their own writing. For this reason, some teachers of Hawaiian language, such as NeSmith , are advocating greater appreciation for the traditional native spellings with no okinas nor kahakos.

Hawaiian Pidgin

Some locals speak Hawaii Creole English (HCE), often called "pidgin". The lexicon of HCE derives mainly from English but also has words from Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Ilocano and Tagalog from the Philippinesmarker and Portuguese. During the 19th century, there was a great increase in immigration from foreign countries (mainly China, Japan, Portugal — especially from the Azores archipelago — and Spain), and a pidgin English developed which by the early 20th century became a creole English, as pidgin speakers had children who acquired the pidgin as their own native language. HCE speakers can use some Hawaiian words without those words being considered archaic. Most place names are retained from Hawaiian, as are some names for plants or animals. For example, tuna fish are often called "ahi". HCE speakers have modified the meanings of certain English words. For example, the terms "aunty" and "uncle" can be used to refer to any adult who is a friend, or a friend to the family. It is also used as a sign of respect for elders. Throughout the surfing boom in Hawaii, HCE has influenced surfer slang. Some HCE expressions, such as brah and da kine, have found their way to other places.

Certain words can be dropped if their meaning is implicit. For example, instead of saying "It is hot today, isn't it?", an HCE speaker is likely to say simply "stay hot, eh?" When a word does not come to mind quickly, the slang term is "Da Kine" which refers to any word you can't think of.

Spelling of state name

A somewhat divisive political issue that has arisen since the constitution of the State of Hawaii added Hawaiian as a second official state language is the exact spelling of the state's name in official documents. As prescribed in the Hawaii Admission Act that granted Hawaiian statehood, the federal government recognizes Hawaii to be the official state name. Official government publications, as well as department and office titles, use the traditional Hawaiian spelling, that is, with no symbols for glottal stops or vowel length. In contrast, some private entities, including a local newspaper, are using such symbols.

The title of the state constitution is "The Constitution of the State of Hawaii". In Article XV therein, Section 1 uses "The State of Hawaii", Section 2 "the island of Oahu", Section 3 "The Hawaiian flag", and Section 5 specifies the state motto as "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono". Since these documents predate the modern use of the okina and the kahakō in Hawaiian orthography, the disputed spelling conventions were not used in these cases.

The nuances in the Hawaiian language debate are often not obvious or well-appreciated among English speakers outside Hawaii . The issue has often been a source of friction in situations where correct naming conventions are mandated , as people frequently disagree over which spelling is correct or incorrect, and where it is correctly or incorrectly applied.


Religion was distributed among the Hawaiian population in 2000 as follows:

"Other" includes Bahá'í Faith, Confucianism, Daoism, the Hawaiian religion, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Shintoism, Scientology, Wicca, Zoroastrianism, and other religions.This data was provided by religious establishments, so “Unaffiliated” includes agnostics, atheists, humanists, those who are Irreligious, and those who have a religion but are not religiously active.

A 2009 Gallup poll found religion was distributed this way, excluding those of other non-Christian religions and those who had "no opinion":

A special case is Ho oponopono, an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness, combined with prayer. It is both philosophy and way of life. Traditionally ho oponopono is practiced by healing priests or kahuna lapa au among family members of a person who is physically ill.


The history of Hawaii can be traced through a succession of dominating industries: sandalwood, whaling, sugarcane (see Sugar plantations in Hawaii), pineapple, military, tourism, and education. Since statehood in 1959, tourism has been the largest industry in Hawaii, contributing 24.3% of the Gross State Product (GSP) in 1997, despite efforts to diversify. The gross output for the state in 2003 was US$47 billion; per capita income for Hawaii residents was US$30,441.

Exports from Hawaii include food and apparel. These industries play a small role in the Hawaii economy, however, due to the considerable shipping distance to the ports of the West Coast of the United States. Food exports include coffee (see coffee production in Hawaii), macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, and sugarcane. Agricultural sales for 2002, according to the Hawaii Agricultural Statistics Service, were US$370.9 million from diversified agriculture, US$100.6 million from pineapple, and US$64.3 million from sugarcane.

Hawaii has a relatively high state tax burden. In 2003, Hawaii residents had the highest state tax per capita at US$2,838. This is partly because education, health care and social services are all rendered at the state level, as opposed to the municipal level in all other states.

Millions of tourists contribute to the collection figure by paying the general excise tax and hotel room tax; thus not all the taxes collected come directly from residents. Business leaders, however, consider the state's tax burden too high, contributing to both higher prices and the perception of an unfriendly business climate. See the list of businesses in Hawaii for more on commerce in the state.

Hawaii was one of the few states to control gasoline prices through a Gas Cap Law. Since oil company profits in Hawaii compared to the mainland U.S. were under scrutiny, the law tied local gasoline prices to those of the mainland. It took effect in September 2005 amid price fluctuations caused by Hurricane Katrina, but was suspended in April 2006.


The aboriginal culture of Hawaii is Polynesian. Hawaii represents the northernmost extension of the vast Polynesian triangle of the south and central Pacific Oceanmarker. While traditional Hawaiian culture remains only as vestiges influencing modern Hawaiian society, there are reenactments of the ceremonies and traditions throughout the islands. Some of these cultural influences are strong enough to have affected the culture of the United States at large, including the popularity (in greatly modified form) of luaus and hula.

Hawaii is home to numerous cultural events. The annual Merrie Monarch Festival is an international Hula competition. The state is also home to the Hawaii International Film Festival, the premier film festival for pacific rim cinema. Honolulumarker is also home to the state's long running GLBT film festival, the Rainbow Film Festival.


Hawaii's health care system insures over 95% of residents. Under the state's plan, businesses are required to provide employees who work more than twenty hours per week with health care. Heavy regulation of insurance companies helps keep the cost to employers down. Due in part to the system's emphasis on preventive care, Hawaiians require hospital treatment less frequently than the rest of the United States, while total health care expenses (measured as a percentage of state GDP) are substantially lower. Given these achievements, proponents of universal health care elsewhere in the U.S. sometimes use Hawaii as a model for proposed federal and state health care plans. Critics, however, claim that Hawaii's success is due at least in part to its mild climate and to its status as a chain of islands whose economy is heavily based on tourism: features that make it more difficult for businesses unhappy with paying the plan's premiums to relocate elsewhere.


Public schools

Hawaii has the only U.S. state with a unified school system. Policy decisions are made by the fourteen-member state Board of Education. The Board sets statewide educational policy and hires the state superintendent of schools, who oversees the state Department of Education. The Department of Education is divided into seven districts, four on O ahu and one for each of the other counties.

The main rationale for centralization is leveling out inequalities that would exist between highly populated O ahu and the more rural Neighbor Islands, and between lower-income and more affluent areas of the state. In most of the United States schools are funded from local property taxes. Republican Governor Linda Lingle proposed replacing the statewide board with seven elected district boards. The Democratic-controlled state legislature opposed her proposal, favoring expansion of decision-making power to the schools and giving them discretion over budgeting.

Educators struggle with large populations of children of non-native English-speaking immigrants, whose cultures are often different from that of the mainland (from which most of the course materials come, and where most standards for schools are set).

Public elementary, middle, and high school scores in Hawaii tend to be below average on national tests mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act. Some of this can be attributed to the Hawaii State Board of Education requiring all eligible students to take these tests and reporting all student test scores unlike, for example, Texas and Michigan. Results reported in August 2005 indicate that two-thirds of Hawaii's schools failed to reach federal minimum performance standards in math and reading (of 282 schools across the state, 185 failed).

On the other hand, the ACT college placement tests show that Hawaii 2005 seniors scored slightly above the national average (21.9 compared with 20.9). In the more widely accepted SAT examinations, Hawaii's college-bound seniors tend to score below the national average in all categories except mathematics.

Other Schools

Hawaii educates more students in independent institutions of secondary education than any other state in the United States. It has four of the largest independent schools: Iolani Schoolmarker, Kamehameha Schoolsmarker, Mid-Pacific Institute, and Punahou Schoolmarker. The second Buddhist high school in the United States, and first Buddhist high school in Hawaii, Pacific Buddhist Academy, was founded in 2003. The first native designed and controlled public charter school in Hawaii was the Kanu O Ka Aina New Century Charter School.

Independent and charter schools can select their students, while the regular public schools must take all students in their district. The Kamehameha Schools are especially notable for being the only schools in the United States that openly grant admission to students based on ancestry and the wealthiest schools in the United States, if not the world, having over nine billion US dollars in estate assets.

Colleges and universities

Graduates of institutions of secondary learning in Hawaii often either enter directly into the work force or attend colleges and universities. While many choose to attend colleges and universities on the mainland or elsewhere, most choose to attend one of many institutions of higher learning in Hawaii. The largest of these institutions is the University of Hawai i System. It consists of: (1) the flagship research university at Mānoamarker; (2) two comprehensive campuses Hilomarker and West O ahu; and (7) seven Community Colleges. Students choosing private education attend Brigham Young University–Hawaiimarker, Chaminade University of Honolulumarker, Hawaii Pacific Universitymarker, or University of the Nations. The Saint Stephen Diocesan Center is a seminary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.

Law and government

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2008 26.58% 120,446 71.85% 325,588
2004 45.26% 194,191 54.01% 231,708
2000 37.46% 137,845 55.79% 205,286
1996 31.64% 113,943 56.93% 205,012
1992 36.70% 136,822 48.09% 179,310
1988 44.75% 158,625 54.27% 192,364
1984 55.10% 185,050 43.82% 147,154
1980 42.90% 130,112 44.80% 135,879
1976 48.06% 140,003 50.59% 147,375
1972 62.48% 168,865 37.52% 101,409
1968 38.70% 91,425 59.83% 141,324
1964 21.24% 44,022 78.76% 163,249
1960 49.97% 92,295 50.03% 92,410

The state government of Hawaii is modeled after the federal government with adaptations originating from the kingdom era of Hawaiian history. As codified in the Constitution of Hawaii, there are three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.

The executive branch is led by the Governor of Hawaii and assisted by the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, both elected on the same ticket. The governor, in residence at the grounds of Washington Placemarker, is the only public official elected for the state government in a statewide race; all other administrators and judges are appointed by the governor. The lieutenant governor is concurrently the Secretary of State of Hawaii. Both the governor and lieutenant governor administer their duties from the State Capitolmarker. The governor and lieutenant governor oversee twenty agencies and departments.

The legislative branch consists of the Hawaii State Legislature — twenty-five members of the Hawaii Senate led by the President of the Senate and fifty-one members of the Hawaii House of Representatives led by the Speaker of the House. They also govern from the State Capitol. The judicial branch is led by the highest state court, the Hawaii State Supreme Courtmarker, which uses Aliiolani Halemarker as its chambers. Lower courts are organized as the Hawaii State Judiciary.

The state is represented in the United States Congress by a delegation of four members. They are the senior and junior United States Senators, the representative of Hawaii's 1st congressional district and the representative of Hawaii's 2nd congressional district. Many Hawaii residents have been appointed to administer other agencies and departments of the federal government by the President of the United States. All federal officers of Hawaii administer their duties from the Prince Kuhio Federal Building near the Aloha Towermarker and Honolulu Harbor.

Hawaii has supported Democrats in 10 of its 12 presidential elections with the exception of 1972 and 1984. In 2004, John Kerry won the state's 4 electoral votes by a margin of 9 percentage points with 54% of the vote. Every county in the state supported the Democratic candidate. In 1964, favorite son candidate, Senator Hiram Fong of Hawaii sought the Republican presidential nomination while Patsy Mink ran in the Oregon primary in 1972.

Honolulumarker native Barack Obama, serving as United States Senator from Illinoismarker, was elected President of the United States on November 4, 2008. Obama had won the Hawaiian Democratic Caucus on February 19, 2008 with 76% of the vote. Obama was the third Hawaii-born candidate to seek the nomination of a major party and the first presidential nominee from Hawaii.

The Prince Kuhio Federal Building also houses agencies of the federal government such as the Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker, Internal Revenue Service and the United States Secret Service. The building is the site of the federal courts and the offices of the United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, principal police officer of the Department of Justicemarker in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.

Unique to Hawaii is the way it has organized its municipal governments. There are no incorporated cities in Hawaii. All local governments are administered at the county level. Honolulu Countymarker governs the entire island of Oahumarker. County executives are the Mayor of Hawaii, Mayor of Honolulu, Mayor of Kauai and Mayor of Maui, all elected in nonpartisan races.


A system of state highways encircles each main island. Only O ahu has federal highways. Travel can be slow due to narrow winding roads, and congested in cities. Each major island has a public bus system.

Commercial airlines provide most mainland and inter-island travel. Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, and go! use jets between the larger airports in Honolulu, Līhu e, Kahului, Kona, and Hilo, while Island Air and Pacific Wings serve smaller airports. These airlines also provide air freight service between the islands.

Norwegian Cruise Lines provides passenger cruise service between the islands. The Hawaii Superferry planned to operate between O ahu and other major islands. Legal issues over environmental impact statements and protests temporarily delayed it. Service to Maui started in December 2007, but shut down in March 2009.

See also


  1. Pollex—a reconstruction of the Proto-Polynesian lexicon, Biggs and Clark, 1994. The asterisk preceding the word signifies that it is a reconstructed word form.
  2. Pukui and Elbert 1986, p. 62.
  3. See also: Pukui, Elbert, and Mookini 1974.
  4. Mauna Kea Volcano, Hawaii.
  5. Living on Active Volcanoes—The Island of Hawaii, U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 074-97.
  6. Human Footprints in Relation to the 1790 Eruption of Kīlauea, Swanson, D. A.; Rausch, J., American Geophysical Union.
  7. Climate of Hawaii.
  8. Hawaii Weather|Hawaii Weather Forecast|Hawaii Climate.
  9. US CODE: Title 20,7512. Findings.
  10. Hawaii State Government.
  11. Kuykendall, "The Hawaiian Kingdom Volume I: Foundation and Transformation", p18 "Cook's plan was to get the king on board the Resolution and keep him there until the stolen boat was returned — a plan that had been effective under similar circumstances in the south Pacific".
  12. Hawaii (state, United States). Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  13. Migration and Disease. Digital History.
  14. U.S. Navy History site.
  15. Kuykendall, R.S. (1967) The Hawaiian Kingdom, 1874-1893. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. 648.
  16. Hawaii Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand by Bruce Fein.
  17. 1897 Hawaii Annexation Treaty.
  18. Human Rights differs from Equal Rights.
  19. Support For The Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council.
  20. Hawaii Reporter: Hawaii Reporter.
  21. New Jersey Quickfacts.
  22. Hawaii Quickfacts.
  23. Top 12 states in population density.
  24. Average life expectancy at birth by state.
  25. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-context=adp&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_DP5&-ds_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_&-tree_id=308&-redoLog=true&-_caller=geoselect&-geo_id=04000US15&-format=&-_lang=en
  26. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=04000US15&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_DP2&-context=adp&-ds_name=&-tree_id=308&-_lang=en&-redoLog=true&-format=
  27. Language Map Data Center.
  28. State of Hawaii Data Book 2000, Section 1 Population, Table 1.47.
  29. Glenmary Research Center.
  30. Honolulu Advertiser.
  31. Gallup Poll Daily tracking.
  32. Hawaii sandalwood trade.
  33. Whaling in Hawaii.
  34. Honolulu Star-Bulletin Hawaii News.
  35. http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/current/il/merriemonarch05
  36. http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009902200326
  37. http://www.hnlnow.com/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=10075&year=2008&month=5
  38. http://archives.starbulletin.com/2001/05/29/features/index.html
  39. Two-Thirds Of Hawaii Schools Do Not Meet Requirements - Education News Story - KITV Honolulu
  40. Honolulu Advertiser, August 17, 2005, p. B1

Further reading

  • The Constitution of the State of Hawaii. Article XV.
  • Bushnell, O. A. 1993. The Gifts of Civilization: Germs and Genocide in Hawaii. ISBN 0824814576. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press
  • Kinzer, Stephen 2007, Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. ISBN 0805082409. Times Books
  • Schamel, Wynell and Charles E. Schamel. "The 1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii." Social Education 63, 7 (November/December 1999): 402-408.
  • Stokes, John F.G. 1932. "Spaniard and the Sweet Potato in Hawaii and Hawaiian-American Contacts." American Anthropologist, New Series, v, 34, n, 4, pp. 594–600.

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