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Coordinates: 21°18′41″N 157°47′47″W / 21.31139°N 157.79639°W / 21.31139; -157.79639

State of Hawaii
Mokuʻāina o Hawaiʻi
Flag of Hawaii State seal of Hawaii
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Aloha State (official), Paradise, The Islands of Aloha
Motto(s): Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono
("The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness")1
State anthem: "Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī
("Hawaii’s Own True Sons")2
Map of the United States with Hawaii highlighted
Official language English, Hawaiian
Demonym Hawaiian (see notes)3
(and largest city)
Largest metro Oahu metropolitan area
Area Ranked 43rd
 - Total 10,931 sq mi
(28,311 km2)
 - Width n/a miles (n/a km)
 - Length 1,522 miles (2,450 km)
 - % water 41.2
 - Latitude 18° 55′ N to 28° 27′ N
 - Longitude 154° 48′ W to 178° 22′ W
Population Ranked 40th
 - Total 1,404,054 (2013 est)4
 - Density 214/sq mi  (82.6/km2)
Ranked 13th
 - Median household income $63,746 (5th)
 - Highest point Mauna Kea5678
13,796 ft (4205.0 m)
 - Mean 3,030 ft  (920 m)
 - Lowest point Pacific Ocean6
sea level
Before statehood Territory of Hawaii
Admission to Union August 21, 1959 (50th)
Governor Neil Abercrombie (D)
Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui (D)
Legislature State Legislature
 - Upper house Senate
 - Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D)
Mazie Hirono (D)
U.S. House delegation 1: Colleen Hanabusa (D)
2: Tulsi Gabbard (D) (list)
Time zone Hawaii: UTC −10
(no DST)
Abbreviations HI, US-HI
Website www.hawaii.gov
Hawaii State symbols
Animate insignia
Bird(s) Hawaiian Goose9
Fish Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa10
Flower(s) Hawaiian hibiscus11
Mammal(s) Humpback whale,12 Hawaiian monk seal13
Reptile Gold dust day geckocitation needed
Tree Kukui nut tree14

Inanimate insignia
Food Coconut muffincitation needed
Gemstone Black coral15
Slogan(s) The Islands of Alohacitation needed
Soil Hilocitation needed
Song(s) Hawaiʻi Ponoʻi2
Sport Surfing,16 Outrigger canoeing17
Tartan Hawaii State Tartan (unofficial)18

Route marker(s)
Hawaii Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Hawaii
Released in 2008

Lists of United States state insignia
Hawaii from space, January 26, 201419

Hawaii (Listeni/həˈw./ or /həˈwʔ/; Hawaiian: Hawaiʻi Hawaiian pronunciation: [hɐˈvɐiʔi]) is the most recent of the 50 U.S. states (joined the Union on August 21, 1959), and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii’s diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, (wind) surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike. Due to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vibrant native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oʻahu.

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) Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui and the island of Hawaiʻi. The last is the largest and is often called "The Big Island" to avoid confusing the name of the island with the name of the state as a whole. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.

Hawaii is the 8th smallest, the 11th least populous, but the 13th most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. Hawaii's ocean coastline is approximately 750 miles (1,210 km) long, which is fourth in the United States after those of Alaska, Florida and California.

Hawaii is one of two states that do not observe daylight saving time, the other being Arizona. It is also one of two states that are not in the contiguous United States; the other is Alaska. Additionally, Hawaii is the only U.S. state not to be located in the Americas. Hawaii is also the only state with an Asian plurality.


The Hawaiian language word Hawaiʻi derives from Proto-Polynesian *Sawaiki, with the reconstructed meaning "homeland";20 Hawaiʻi cognates are found in other Polynesian languages, including Māori (Hawaiki), Rarotongan (ʻAvaiki), and Samoan (Savaiʻi). (See also Hawaiki). According to Pukui and Elbert,21 "Elsewhere in Polynesia, Hawaiʻi or a cognate is the name of the underworld or of the ancestral home, but in Hawaiʻi, the name has no meaning."22

Spelling of state name

A somewhat divisive political issue arose when the constitution of the state of Hawaii added Hawaiian as a second official state language: the exact spelling of the state's name, which in the islands' language is Hawaiʻi (the ʻokina marking a Hawaiian consonant, a cut-off of breath before the final i). In the Hawaii Admission Act that granted Hawaiian statehood, the federal government recognized Hawaii to be the official state name. Official government publications, as well as department and office titles, use the traditional Hawaiian spelling, with no symbols for glottal stops or vowel length.23 In contrast, the National and State Parks Services, the University of Hawaiʻi, and some private entities, including a local newspaper, do use such symbols.

The title of the state constitution is "The Constitution of the State of Hawaii". In Article XV, 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 ʻokina and the kahakō in Hawaiian orthography, the diacritics were not used.

Geography and environment

The main Hawaiian Islands are:

Island Nickname Area Population
(as of 2010)
Density Highest point Elevation Age (Ma)24 Location
Hawaiʻi25 The Big Island 1 4,028.0 sq mi (10,432.5 km2) 185,079 4 45.948/sq mi (17.7407/km2) Mauna Kea 1 13,796 ft (4,205 m) 0.4 19°34′N 155°30′W / 19.567°N 155.500°W / 19.567; -155.500 (Hawaii)
Maui26 The Valley Isle 2 727.2 sq mi (1,883.4 km2) 144,444 2 198.630/sq mi (76.692/km2) Haleakalā 2 10,023 ft (3,055 m) 1.3–0.8 20°48′N 156°20′W / 20.800°N 156.333°W / 20.800; -156.333 (Maui)
Oʻahu27 The Gathering Place 3 596.7 sq mi (1,545.4 km2) 953,207 1 1,597.46/sq mi (616.78/km2) Mount Kaʻala 5 4,003 ft (1,220 m) 3.7–2.6 21°28′N 157°59′W / 21.467°N 157.983°W / 21.467; -157.983 (Oahu)
Kauaʻi28 The Garden Isle 4 552.3 sq mi (1,430.5 km2) 66,921 3 121.168/sq mi (46.783/km2) Kawaikini 3 5,243 ft (1,598 m) 5.1 22°05′N 159°30′W / 22.083°N 159.500°W / 22.083; -159.500 (Kauai)
Molokaʻi29 The Friendly Isle 5 260.0 sq mi (673.4 km2) 7,345 5 28.250/sq mi (10.9074/km2) Kamakou 4 4,961 ft (1,512 m) 1.9–1.8 21°08′N 157°02′W / 21.133°N 157.033°W / 21.133; -157.033 (Molokai)
Lānaʻi30 The Pineapple Isle 6 140.5 sq mi (363.9 km2) 3,135 6 22.313/sq mi (8.615/km2) Lānaʻihale 6 3,366 ft (1,026 m) 1.3 20°50′N 156°56′W / 20.833°N 156.933°W / 20.833; -156.933 (Lanai)
Niʻihau31 The Forbidden Isle 7 69.5 sq mi (180.0 km2) 170 7 2.45/sq mi (0.944/km2) Mount Pānīʻau 8 1,250 ft (381 m) 4.9 21°54′N 160°10′W / 21.900°N 160.167°W / 21.900; -160.167 (Niihau)
Kahoʻolawe32 The Target Isle 8 44.6 sq mi (115.5 km2) 0 8 0 Puʻu Moaulanui 7 1,483 ft (452 m) 1.0 20°33′N 156°36′W / 20.550°N 156.600°W / 20.550; -156.600 (Kahoolawe)

World map with Hawaiian islands in the middle
The Hawaiian Islands are located in the North Pacific Ocean
A true-color satellite view of Hawaii shows that most of the vegetation on the islands grows on the north-east sides which face the wind. The silver glow around the south-west of the islands is the result of calmer waters.33


Nā Pali coast, Kauaʻi

An archipelago situated some 2,000 mi (3,200 km) southwest of the North American mainland,34 Hawaii is the southernmost state of the United States and the second westernmost state after Alaska. Hawaii, along with Alaska, does not border any other U.S. state.

Panorama of the Haleakala crater

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 royal palaces, and does not have a straight line in its state boundary.

Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, stands at 13,796 ft (4,205 m)35 but is taller than Mount Everest if followed to the base of the mountain, which, lying at the floor of the Pacific Ocean, rises about 33,500 ft (10,200 m).36

The eight main islands, Hawaiʻi, Maui, Oʻahu, Kahoʻolawe, Lanaʻi, Molokaʻi, Kauaʻi and Niʻihau are accompanied by many others. Kaʻula is a small island near Niʻihau that is often overlooked. The Northwest Hawaiian Islands are a series of nine small, older masses northwest of Kauaʻi that extend from Nihoa to Kure that are remnants of once much larger volcanic mountains. There are also more than 100 small rocks and islets, such as Molokini, that are either volcanic, marine sedimentary or erosional in origin, totaling 130 or so across the archipelago.37


The Hawaiian islands were (and continue to be) continuously formed from volcanic activity initiated at an undersea magma source called a hotspot. As the tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean moves to the northwest, the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. Due to the hotspot’s location, the only active volcanoes are located around the southern half of the Big Island. The newest volcano, ʻihi Seamount, is located south of the Big Island’s coast.

The last volcanic eruption outside the Big Island occurred at Haleakalā on Maui before the late 18th century, though it could have been hundreds of years earlier.38 In 1790, Kīlauea exploded with the deadliest eruption (of the modern era) known to have occurred in what is now the United States.39 As many as 5,405 warriors and their families marching on Kīlauea were killed by that eruption.40

Volcanic activity and subsequent erosion have created impressive geological features. The Big Island has the third highest point among the world’s islands.41

Slope instability of the volcanoes has generated damaging earthquakes with related tsunamis, particularly in 1868 and 1975.42 Steep cliffs have been caused by catastrophic debris avalanches on the submerged flanks of ocean island volcanos.4344

Flora and fauna

Because the islands are so far from other land habitats, 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). This isolation, and the wide range of environments (extreme altitude, tropical climate) produced 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 any other U.S. state.45 One endemic plant, Brighamia, now requires hand-pollination - its natural pollinator is presumed to be extinct.46 The two species of Brighamia - B. rockii and B. insignis - are represented in the wild by perhaps 120 individual plants. In order to ensure that these plants set seed, biologists rappel down 3000-foot cliffs to brush pollen onto their stigmas.47

The relatively short time that the existing main islands of the archipelago have been above the surface of the ocean (less than 10 million years) is only a fraction of time span over which biological colonization and evolution have occurred in the archipelago.

The islands are well known for the environmental diversity that occurs on high mountains within a trade winds field. On a single island, the climate can differ around the coast from dry tropical (< 20 in or 500 mm annual rainfall) to wet tropical; and up the slopes from tropical rainforest (> 200 in or 5000 mm per year) through a temperate climate into alpine conditions of cold and dry climate. The rainy climate impacts soil development, which largely determines ground permeability, which affects the distribution of streams, wetlands, and wet places.

Protected areas

Endemic Haleakalā Silversword near Haleakalā summit

Several areas in Hawaii are under the protection of the National Park Service.48 Hawaii has two national parks: Haleakala National Park near Kula, on Maui, includes Haleakalā, the dormant volcano that formed east Maui; and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in the southeast region of the island of Hawaiʻi, which includes the active volcano Kīlauea and its various rift zones.

There are three national historical parks: Kalaupapa National Historical Park in Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi, the site of a former Hansen’s disease colony; Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaiʻi; and Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, an ancient place of refuge. Other areas under the control of the National Park Service include Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on the Big Island and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on Oʻahu.

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument 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 50 miles (80 km) offshore in the Pacific Ocean, larger than all of America’s National Parks combined.49


Road to Hana through rainforest

Hawaii’s climate is typical for the tropics, although temperatures and humidity tend to be a bit less extreme due to near-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 the tropics, falls at 4,205 metres (13,796 ft) on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island in some winter months. Snow rarely falls on Haleakala. Mount Waiʻaleʻale, on Kauaʻi, has the second highest average annual rainfall on Earth, about 460 inches (11,684.0 mm). Most of Hawaii has only two seasons: the dry season from May to October, and the wet season from October to April.50

The warmest temperature recorded in the state is 100 °F (38 °C) (making it tied with Alaska as the lowest high temperature recorded in a U.S. state) in Pahala on April 27, 1931. Hawaii's all-time record low temperature is 12 °F (−11 °C) observed in May 1979 on the summit of Mauna Kea. Hawaii is the only state to have never recorded sub-zero Fahrenheit temperatures.

Local climates vary considerably on each island, grossly divisible into windward (Koʻolau) and leeward (Kona) areas based upon location relative to the higher mountains. Windward sides face cloud cover, so resorts concentrate on sunny leeward coasts.

Monthly normal low and high temperatures for various Hawaiian populated places51
City Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Hilo 64 °F / 17.8 °C 64 °F / 17.8 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C 66 °F / 18.9 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C
79 °F / 26.1 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 80 °F / 26.7 °C
Honolulu 66 °F / 18.9 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C 70 °F / 21.1 °C 72 °F / 22.2 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 75 °F / 23.9 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 73 °F / 22.8 °C 71 °F / 21.7 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C
80 °F / 26.7 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 85 °F / 29.4 °C 87 °F / 30.6 °C 88 °F / 31.1 °C 89 °F / 31.7 °C 89 °F / 31.7 °C 87 °F / 30.6 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C
Kahului 63 °F / 17.2 °C 63 °F / 17.2 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C 66 °F / 18.9 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 71 °F / 21.7 °C 71 °F / 21.7 °C 70 °F / 21.1 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C 65 °F / 18.3 °C
80 °F / 26.7 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 86 °F / 30.0 °C 87 °F / 30.6 °C 88 °F / 31.1 °C 88 °F / 31.1 °C 87 °F / 30.6 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 82 °F / 27.8 °C
Lihuʻe 65 °F / 18.3 °C 66 °F / 18.9 °C 67 °F / 19.4 °C 69 °F / 20.6 °C 70 °F / 21.1 °C 73 °F / 22.8 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 74 °F / 23.3 °C 73 °F / 22.8 °C 71 °F / 21.7 °C 68 °F / 20.0 °C
78 °F / 25.6 °C 78 °F / 26.6 °C 78 °F / 26.6 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 83 °F / 28.3 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 85 °F / 29.4 °C 85 °F / 29.4 °C 84 °F / 28.9 °C 81 °F / 27.2 °C 79 °F / 26.1 °C


Hawaii is the only US state that is antipodal to inhabited land. Most of the state lies opposite Botswana, though Niʻihau aligns with Namibia and Kauai straddles the border. This area of Africa, near Maun and Ghanzi, includes nature reserves and small settlements near the Okavango Delta.5253


Part of a series on the
History of Hawaii
State seal of Hawaii
American Hawaii
Portal icon Hawaii portal

Hawaii is one of four states, besides the original thirteen, 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 Republic (1846), and one of two, along with Texas, that had formal diplomatic recognition internationally.54 The Kingdom of Hawaii was sovereign 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, becoming a state in 1959.55

Hawaii was the target of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan on December 7, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor and other military and naval installations on Oʻahu, carried out by aircraft and by midget submarines, brought the United States into World War II.

First human settlement — Ancient Hawaiʻi (800–1778)

The earliest habitation supported by archaeological evidence dates to as early as 300 CE, probably by Polynesian settlers from the Marquesas, followed by a second wave of migration from Raiatea and Bora Bora in the 11th century.

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.56

Some archaeologists and historians believe that an early settlement from the Marquesas and a later wave of immigrants from Tahiti, c. 1000, 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 Paʻao. Other authors argue that there is no archaeological or linguistic evidence for a later influx of Tahitian settlers, and that Paʻao must be regarded as a myth.

Drawing of single-masted sailboat with one spinnaker-shaped sail, carrying dozens of men
Kalaniʻōpuʻu, King of Hawaii bringing presents to Captain Cook. Illustrated by John Webber, artist aboard Cook's ship.

Regardless of the question of Paʻao, historians agree that the history of the islands was marked by a slow but steady growth in population and the size of the chiefdoms, which grew to encompass whole islands. Local chiefs, called aliʻi, ruled their settlements and launched wars to extend their sway and defend their communities from predatory rivals. Ancient Hawaii was a caste-based society much like that of the Hindus in India.57

European arrival and the Kingdom of Hawaii

There are questions whether Spanish explorers arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in the 16th century, two centuries before Captain James Cook's first documented visit in 1778. Ruy López de Villalobos commanded a fleet of six ships that left Acapulco in 1542 bound for the Philippines, with a Spanish sailor named Juan Gaetano aboard as pilot. Depending on the interpretation, Gaetano's reports seemed to describe the discovery of Hawaii or the Marshall Islands.58 If it was Hawaii, Gaetano would have been the first European to find the islands. Some scholars have dismissed these claims as lacking credibility.5960 However, Spanish archives contain a chart that depicts islands in the latitude of Hawaii but with the longitude ten degrees east of the Islands. In this manuscript, the Island of Maui is named "La Desgraciada" (the unfortunate), and what appears to be the Island of Hawaii is named "La Mesa" (the table). Islands resembling Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokai are named "Los Monjes" (the monks).61 For two and a half centuries Spanish galleons crossed the Pacific along a route that passed south of Hawaii on their way to Manila. The exact route was kept secret to protect the Spanish trade monopoly against competing powers.

The 1778 arrival of British explorer James Cook was Hawaii’s first documented contact with European explorers. Cook named the islands the "Sandwich Islands" in honor of his sponsor John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. He published the islands' location and reported the native name as Owyhee. This spelling lives on in Owyhee County, Idaho, after three Hawaiian members of a trapping party that went missing in that area.

Cook visited the islands twice. Upon his departure during his second visit in 1779, a quarrel ensued, involving Cook's taking of temple idols and fencing as "firewood",62 and the taking of a ship's boat by a minor chief and his men. Cook then abducted the King of the Big Island of Hawaii, Kalaniʻōpuʻu, and held him as ransom aboard his ship for the return of the boat, a tactic that had worked for Cook in Tahiti and other islands.63 Kalaniʻōpuʻu's supporters fought back and Cook and four Marines were killed as Cook's party retreated to the beach and launched their boats.

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 supplies. Early British influence can be seen in the design of the flag of Hawaii which has the British Union Flag in the corner.

These visitors introduced diseases to the once-isolated islands and the Hawaiian population plunged precipitously64 because native Hawaiians had no resistance to influenza, smallpox, and measles, among others. By 1820, Eurasian diseases, famine, and wars among the chiefs killed more than half of the Native Hawaiian population.65 During the 1850s, measles killed a fifth of Hawaii's people.66

Historical records indicated that the earliest immigration of the Chinese came from Guangdong province: a few sailors in 1778 with Captain Cook's journey, more in 1788 with Kaina, and some in 1789 with an American trader who settled in Hawaii in the late 18th century.

House of Kamehameha

King Kamehameha receiving Otto von Kotzebue's Russian naval expedition. Drawing by Louis Choris in 1816.

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

After Kamehameha II inherited the throne in 1819, American Protestant missionaries to Hawaii converted many Hawaiians to Christianity. Their influence ended many ancient practices, and Kamehameha III was the first Christian king. One prominent Protestant missionary, Hiram Bingham I, was a trusted adviser to the monarchy during this period. Other missionaries and their descendants became active in commercial and political affairs, leading to future conflicts between the monarchy and its restive American subjects.

Missionaries from other Christian denominations (such as Catholics, Mormons, and Episcopalians) were active, but never converted more than a minority of the Native Hawaiian population. Ezra T. Benson appeared to have been the earliest Mormon missionary to the islands.

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 the next year, also without naming an heir. Perhaps "the People's King" (Lunalilo) wanted the people to choose his successor as they had chosen him. In 1874 the election was contested within the legislature between Kalākaua and Emma. This led to riots and the landing of U.S. and British troops, and governance passed to the House of Kalākaua.

1887 Constitution and overthrow preparations

In 1887, Kalākaua was forced to sign the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, which stripped the king of much of his authority. There was a property qualification for voting, which disenfranchised most Hawaiians and immigrant laborers, and favored the wealthier white community. Resident whites were allowed to vote, but resident Asians were excluded. Because the 1887 Constitution was signed under threat of violence, it is known as the "Bayonet Constitution". King Kalākaua, reduced to a figurehead, reigned until his death in 1891. His sister, Queen Liliʻuokalani, succeeded him on the throne. She was the last monarch of Hawaii.

row of men with rifles
Ship's landing force at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, January 1893.

In 1893, Queen Liliʻuokalani announced plans for a new constitution. On January 14, 1893, a group of mostly Euro-American business leaders and residents formed a Committee of Safety to overthrow the Kingdom 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 U.S. Marines. As one historian noted, the presence of these troops effectively made it impossible for the monarchy to protect itself.67

Overthrow of 1893—the Republic of Hawaii (1894–1898)

In January 1893, Queen Liliʻuokalani was overthrown and replaced by a Provisional Government composed of members of the Committee of Safety. American lawyer Sanford B. Dole became President of the Republic in 1894. Controversy filled the following years as the queen tried to regain her throne. The administration of President Grover Cleveland commissioned the Blount Report, which concluded that the removal of Liliʻuokalani was illegal. The U.S. government first demanded that Queen Liliʻuokalani be reinstated, but the Provisional Government refused. Congress followed with another investigation, and submitted the Morgan Report 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.68 The accuracy and impartiality of both the Blount and Morgan reports has been questioned by partisans on both sides of the debate over the events of 1893.67697071

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.71

The ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu, formerly the residence of the Hawaiian monarch, was the capitol of the Republic of Hawaii.

The Provisional Government of Hawaii ended on July 4, 1894, replaced by the Republic of Hawaii. The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii in 1885 as contract laborers for the sugar cane and pineapple plantations.

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 Liliʻuokalani. McKinley was open to persuasion by U.S. expansionists and by annexationists from Hawaii. He met with three annexationists from Hawaii: Lorrin Thurston, Francis March Hatch and William Ansel Kinney. After negotiations, in June 1897, Secretary of State John Sherman agreed to a treaty of annexation with these representatives of the Republic of Hawaii.72

The treaty was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. Instead, despite the opposition of a majority of Native Hawaiians,73 the Newlands Resolution was used to annex the Republic to the United States and it became the Territory of Hawaii. 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.

The USS Shaw exploding during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

Puerto Rican immigration to Hawaii began when Puerto Rico's sugar industry was devastated by two hurricanes in 1899. The devastation caused a world-wide shortage of sugar and a huge demand for the product from Hawaii. Hawaiian sugar plantation owners began to recruit the jobless, but experienced, laborers in Puerto Rico. Two distinct waves of Korean immigration to Hawaii have occurred in the last century. The first arrived in between 1903 and 1924; the second wave began in 1965.

In 1900, Hawaii was granted self-governance and retained ʻIolani Palace as the territorial capitol building. Despite several attempts to become a state, 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.

Political changes of 1954—the State of Hawaii (1959–present)

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

Certification of the Hawaii vote for Statehood

In March 1959, Congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law.74 (The act excluded Palmyra Atoll, part of the Kingdom and Territory of Hawaii, from the new state.) On June 27 of that year, a referendum asked residents of Hawaii to vote on the statehood bill. The Hawaii electorate voted 94.3% "yes for statehood" to 5.7% "no".75 The choices were to accept the Act or to remain a territory, without the option of independence.7677 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 via construction and a rapidly growing tourism economy. Later, state programs promoted Hawaiian culture. The Hawaii State Constitutional Convention of 1978 incorporated programs such as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to promote indigenous language and culture.



Population density of the Hawaiian islands.

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Hawaii was 1,404,054 on July 1, 2013, a 3.2% increase since the 2010 United States Census.4

As of 2005, Hawaii has an estimated population of 1,275,194, an increase of 13,070, or 1.0%, from the prior year and an increase of 63,657, or 5.3%, since 2000. This includes a natural increase 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 between the two islands of Oʻahu and Molokaʻi.78 So many Hawaiian residents have moved to Las Vegas that it has been referred to as the "ninth island" of Hawaii.7980

Hawaii has a de facto population of over 1.4 million, due to large military and tourist populations. Oʻahu, nicknamed "The Gathering Place", is the most populous island (and has the highest population density), with a resident population of just under one million in 597 square miles (1,546 km2), about 1,650 people per square mile (for comparison, New Jersey, which has 8,717,925 people in 7,417 square miles (19,210 km2) is the most-densely populated state in the Union with 1,134 people per square mile.)81

Hawaii's 1,275,194 people, spread over 6,423 square miles (16,640 km2) (including many unpopulated islands), results in an average population density of 188.6 persons per square mile,82 which makes Hawaii less densely populated than Ohio and Illinois.83

The average projected lifespan of those born in Hawaii in 2000 was 79.8 years (77.1 years if male, 82.5 if female), longer than any other state.84

As of 2011 the U.S. military personnel reported 42,371 of its personnel on the islands.85

The Hawaiian population changed dramatically after Europeans arrived.86

Historical population
Year Population Notes
1778 400,000 Captain Cook’s crew
1805 264,160
1831 130,313 Census
1850 82,000
1853 73,134 2,119 foreigners
1872 56,897
1876 53,900
1884 80,000 The native population continues to decline.
1890 40,000 native Hawaiians
1900 154,001 About 25% Hawaiian/part-Hawaiian; 40% Japanese; 16% Chinese; 12% Portuguese; and about 5% Caucasian
1910 191,874 people 26,041 Hawaiians and 12,056 part-Hawaiians
1920 255,881 42.7% of the population is of Japanese descent.
1930 368,336
1940 420,770
1950 499,794
1960 632,772
1970 769,913
1980 964,691
1990 1,108,228
2000 1,211,537 239,655 native Hawaiians; Japanese: 21%; Filipino: 17.7%; Chinese: 8.3%; German: 5.8%

Race and ethnicity

Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 154,001
1910 191,874 24.6%
1920 255,881 33.4%
1930 368,300 43.9%
1940 422,770 14.8%
1950 499,794 18.2%
1960 632,772 26.6%
1970 769,913 21.7%
1980 964,691 25.3%
1990 1,108,229 14.9%
2000 1,211,537 9.3%
2010 1,360,301 12.3%
Est. 2013 1,404,054 3.2%
Source: 1910–201087

According to the 2010 United States Census, Hawaii had a population of 1,360,301. In terms of race and ethnicity, the state was 38.6% Asian, 24.7% White (22.7% Non-Hispanic White Alone), 23.6% from Two or More Races, 10.0% Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, 8.9% Hispanics and Latinos of any race, 1.6% Black or African American, 1.2% from Some Other race, and 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native.88

Hawaii Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 199089 200090 201091
White 33.4% 24.3% 24.7%
Asian 61.8% 41.6% 38.6%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
- 9.4% 10.0%
Black 2.5% 1.8% 1.6%
Native 0.5% 0.3% 0.3%
Other race 1.9% 1.2% 1.2%
Two or more races - 21.4% 23.6%

Hawaii is demographically unique because it has the highest percentage of Asian Americans and Multiracial Americans, as well as the lowest percentage of White Americans of any state. In 2011, non-Hispanic whites were involved in 14.5% of all the births.92 Hawaii's Asian population mainly consists of 198,000 (14.6%) Filipino Americans and 185,000 (13.6%) Japanese Americans. In addition, there are roughly 55,000 (4.0%) Chinese Americans and 24,000 (1.8%) Korean Americans. Indigenous Hawaiians number over 80,000, which is 5.9% of the population.93 Including those with partial ancestry, Samoan Americans make up 2.8% of Hawaii's population, and Tongan Americans comprise 0.6% of the state population.94

Over 120,000 (8.8%) Hispanic and Latino Americans make Hawaii their home. Mexicans number over 35,000 (2.6%); Puerto Ricans exceed 44,000 (3.2%). Multiracial Americans form almost one-quarter of Hawaii's population, exceeding 320,000 people. Eurasian Americans are a prominent mixed-race group; there are roughly 66,000 (4.9%) Eurasian Americans in Hawaii. The Non-Hispanic White population numbers at 310,000 and forms just over one-fifth of the population. The multiracial population outnumbers the non-Hispanic white population by about 10,000 people.93 In 1970, the Census Bureau reported Hawaii's population as 38.8% white and 57.7% Asian and Pacific Islander.95

The five largest European ancestries in Hawaii are German (7.4%), Irish (5.2%), English (4.6%), Portuguese (4.3%), and Italian (2.7%). Approximately 82.2% of Hawaii's residents were born in the United States. Roughly 75.0% of the foreign-born residents hail from Asia. Hawaii is a majority-minority state, and is expected to be one of three states that will not have a white plurality in 2014, the other two being California and New Mexico.96

Ancestry groups

The largest ancestry groups in Hawaii as of 2008 are in the table at right. The third group of foreigners to arrive upon Hawaii's shores, after those from Polynesia and Europe, was from China. Chinese workers on Western trading ships settled in Hawaii starting in 1789. In 1820 the first American missionaries came to preach Christianity and teach the Hawaiians Western ways.97

Population of Hawaii98
Ancestry Percentage Main article:
Filipino 13.6% See Filipinos in Hawaii
Japanese 12.6% See Japanese American
Polynesian 9.0% See Native Hawaiians
German 7.4% See German American
Irish 5.2% See Irish American
English 4.6% See English American
Portuguese 4.3% See Portuguese American
Chinese 4.1% See Chinese American
Korean 3.1% See Korean American
Mexican 2.9% See Mexican American
Puerto Rican 2.8% See Puerto Rican
Italian 2.7% See Italian American
African 2.4% See African American
French 1.7% See French American
Samoan 1.3% See Samoans
Scottish 1.2% See Scottish American

A large proportion of Hawaii's population is now of Asian ancestry (especially Chinese, Japanese and Filipino.) Many are descendants of those immigrants brought to work on the sugar plantations in the 1850s and after. The first 153 Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii on June 19, 1868. They were not "legally" approved by the Japanese government because the contract was between a broker and the Tokugawa shogunate, by then replaced by the Meiji Restoration. The first Japanese government-approved immigrants arrived on February 9, 1885 after Kalākaua's petition to Emperor Meiji when Kalākaua visited Japan in 1881.99100

Almost 13,000 Portuguese had come by 1899. They too worked on the sugar plantations.101 By 1901, over 5,000 Puerto Ricans had made new homes on the four islands.102


The state of Hawaii has two official languages recognized in its 1978 constitution: 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 language of many born-and-raised residents and is a second language for many other residents.


As of the 2000 Census, 73.44% of Hawaii residents age 5 and older speak only English at home.103 According to the 2008 American Community Survey, 74.6% of Hawaii's residents over the age of five speak only English at home.98

Minority languages

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.98

A Portuguese immigrant family in Hawaii during the 19th century.
Early Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.

After English, other popular languages are Tagalog, Japanese, and Ilokano. Significant European immigrants and descendants also speak their native languages; the most numerous are Spanish, German, Portuguese and French.

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%.103


The Hawaiian language has about 2000 native speakers, less than 0.1% of the total population.104 According to the United States Census, there were over 24,000 total speakers of the language in Hawaii in 2006-2008.105

Hawaiian is a Polynesian member of the Austronesian language family.104 It is closely related to other Polynesian languages, such as Marquesan, Tahitian, Māori, Rapa Nui (the language of Easter Island), and less closely to Samoan, and Tongan.

According to Schütz (1994), the Marquesans colonized the archipelago in roughly 300 AD106 followed by later waves of immigration from the Society Islands and Samoa-Tonga. Those Polynesians remained in the islands, thereby becoming the Hawaiian people. Their languages, over time, became the Hawaiian language.107 Kimura and Wilson (1983) also state, "Linguists agree that Hawaiian is closely related to Eastern Polynesian, with a particularly strong link in the Southern Marquesas, and a secondary link in Tahiti, which may be explained by voyaging between the Hawaiian and Society Islands."108 Before the arrival of Captain James Cook, the Hawaiian language had no written form. That form 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 Hawaiian increased significantly in the late 20th century. With the help of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, specially designated immersion schools were established where all subjects would be taught in Hawaiian. Also, the University of Hawaii developed a Hawaiian language graduate studies program. Municipal codes were altered to favor Hawaiian place and street names for new civic developments.

Hawaiian distinguishes between long and short vowels. In modern practice, vowel length is indicated with a macron (kahakō). Also, Hawaiian uses the glottal stop as a consonant (ʻokina). It is written as a symbol similar to the apostrophe or opening single quote.

Hawaiian-language newspapers published from 1834–1948 and traditional native speakers of Hawaiian generally omit the marks in their own writing. The ʻokina and kahakō are intended to help non-native speakers.

A sign language for the deaf, based on the Hawaiian language, has been in use in the islands since the early 1800s. Hawaiʻi Sign Language is now nearly extinct.

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, Portuguese, Ilocano and Tagalog. During the 19th century, the increase in immigration (mainly from China, Japan, Portugal—and especially from the Azores archipelago—and Spain), caused a variant of English to develop. By the early 20th century pidgin speakers had children who acquired the pidgin as their first language. HCE speakers 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.

International Market Place, Honolulu, 1958.

HCE speakers have modified the meanings of certain English words. For example, "aunty" and "uncle" refer to any adult who is a friend, or to show respect for an elder. Grammar is also different. For example, instead of "It is hot today, isn't it?", an HCE speaker would say simply "stay hot, eh?" When a word does not come to mind quickly, the term "da kine" refers to any word you cannot think of. Through 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.


Makiki Christian Church in Honolulu, 1958.

The largest denominations by number of adherents were the Catholic Church with 249,619 in 2010109 and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 68,128 in 2009.110 The third largest group are the non-denominational churches with 128 congregations and 32,000 members, the third largest are the United Church of Christ with 115 congregations and 20,000 members. The Southern baptist convention has 108 congregations and 18,000 members.111

According to data provided by religious establishments, religion in Hawaii in 2000 was distributed as follows:112113

  • Christianity: 351,000 (28.9%)
  • Buddhism: 110,000 (9%)
  • Judaism: 10,000 (0.8%)
  • Other: 100,000 (10%)*
  • Unaffiliated: 650,000 (51.1%)**

"Other" are religions other than Christianity, Buddhism, or Judaism; this group includes Bahá'í Faith, Confucianism, Daoism, the Hawaiian religion, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions.

"Unaffiliated" refers to people who do not belong to a congregation; this group includes agnostics, atheists, humanists, deists and the irreligious.

A Pew poll found that the religious composition was as follows:114

A 2010 Glenmary Research Center study also places the Roman Catholic population as greater than 22%.115

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


A 2012 poll by Gallup found that Hawaii had the largest proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults in the country, at 5.1 per cent. This constitutes a total LGBT adult population estimate of 53,966 individuals. The number of same-sex couple households in 2010 stood at 3,239. This grew by 35.45% from a decade earlier.116117 In 2013, Hawaii became the fifteenth state to legalize same-sex marriage and a University of Hawaii researcher stated that the law may boost tourism by $217 million.118


Punalu'u Beach on the Big Island. Tourism is Hawaii's leading employer.
Famous Lanikai Beach on Oahu.
A shipping dock in Hawaii.

The history of Hawaii can be traced through a succession of dominant industries: sandalwood,119 whaling,120 sugarcane (see Sugar plantations in Hawaii), pineapple, military, tourism, and education. Since statehood in 1959, tourism has been the largest industry, 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.

Hawaiian exports include food and apparel. These industries play a small role in the Hawaiian economy, however, due to the considerable shipping distance to viable markets, such as the West Coast of the United States. Food exports include coffee (see coffee production in Hawaii), macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, sugarcane, and both honey121 and honeybees: "by weight, Hawaii's honeybees may be the state's most valuable export."122 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's relatively constant climate has attracted the Genetically modified food research industry which is able to test three generations of crops in a single year on the islands as compared to one or two on the mainland.123

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.

Hawaiian Electric Industries provides electricity (mostly from fossil-fuel power stations) to 95% of the state's population.

As of January 2010, the state's unemployment rate was 6.9%.124

In 2009, the United States military spent $12.2 billion in Hawaii, accounting for 18% of spending in the state for that year. 75,000 United States Department of Defense personnel reside in Hawaii.125

According to a 2013 study by Phoenix Marketing International, Hawaii had the fourth-largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States, with a ratio of 7.18 percent.126


Hawaii has a relatively high state tax burden. In 2003, Hawaii residents had the highest state tax per capita at US$2,838.citation needed This is partly because education, health care and social services are all provided directly by the state, as opposed to local government in all other states.improper synthesis?

Millions of tourists contribute to the tax take by paying the general excise tax and hotel room tax; thus not all taxes 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.127

Cost of living

The cost of living in Hawaii, specifically Honolulu, is quite high compared to most major cities in the United States. However, the cost of living in Honolulu is 6.7% lower than in New York City and 3.6% lower than in San Francisco.128 These numbers may not take into account certain costs, such as increased travel costs for longer flights, additional shipping fees, and the loss of promotional participation opportunities for customers "outside the continental United States". While some online stores do offer free shipping on orders to Hawaii,129 many merchants exclude Hawaii and Alaska, as well as Puerto Rico and certain other US territories.

The median home value in Hawaii in the 2000 US Census was $272,700 while the national median home value was less than half of that, at $119,600. Hawaii home values were the highest of all states, including California with a median home value of $211,500.130 More recent research from the National Association of Realtors places the 2010 median sale price of a single family home in Honolulu, Hawaii at $607,600 and the US median sales price at $173,200. The sale price of single family homes in Hawaii was the highest of any US city in 2010, just above the "Silicon Valley" area of California ($602,000).131

One of the most significant contributors to the high cost of living in Hawaii is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (also known as the Jones Act), which prevents foreign-flagged ships from carrying cargo between two American ports (a practice known as cabotage). Most U.S. consumer goods are manufactured in East Asia at present, but because of the Jones Act, foreign ships inbound with those goods cannot stop in Honolulu, offload Hawaii-bound goods, load mainland-bound Hawaii-manufactured goods, and continue to West Coast ports. Instead, they must proceed directly to the West Coast, where distributors break bulk and send Hawaiian-bound Asian-manufactured goods back west across the ocean by U.S.-flagged ships.132133

Hawaiian consumers ultimately bear the expense of transporting goods again across the Pacific on U.S.-flagged ships subject to the extremely high operating costs imposed by the Jones Act. This also makes Hawaii less competitive with West Coast ports as a shopping destination for tourists from home countries with much higher taxes (like Japan), even though prices for Asian-manufactured goods in theory should be cheaper since Hawaii is much closer to Asia.134135


Jack Johnson, folk rock musician, was born and raised on Oahu's North Shore

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

Cuisine of Hawaii

The Cuisine of Hawaii is a fusion of many foods brought by immigrants to the Hawaiian Islands, particularly of American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Polynesian and Portuguese origins, including plant and animal food sources imported from around the world for agricultural use in Hawaii. Many local restaurants serve the ubiquitous plate lunch featuring the Asian staple, two scoops of rice, a simplified version of American macaroni salad (consisting of macaroni and mayonnaise), and a variety of different toppings ranging from the hamburger patty, a fried egg, and gravy of a Loco Moco, Japanese style tonkatsu or the traditional lu'au favorite, kalua pig and beef, and curry.

Customs and etiquette in Hawaii

Some key customs and etiquette in Hawaii are as follows: When visiting a home, it is considered good manners to bring a small gift (for example, a dessert) for one's host. Thus, parties are usually in the form of potlucks. Most locals take their shoes off before entering a home. It is customary for Hawai‘i families, regardless of ethnicity, to hold a luau to celebrate a child's first birthday. It is customary at Hawai'i weddings, especially at Filipino weddings, for the bride and groom to do a Money dance (also called the pandango). Print media and local residents recommend that one refer to non-Hawaiians as "locals of Hawaii" or "people of Hawaii".

Folklore in Hawaii

The folklore in Hawaii in modern times is a mixture of various aspects of Hawaiian mythology and various urban legends that have been passed on regarding various places in the Hawaiian islands. According to Hawaiian legend, night marchers (huaka‘i po in Hawaiian) are ghosts of ancient warriors. Local folklore on the island of Oahu says that one should never carry pork over the Pali Highway connecting Honolulu and Windward Oahu. In Paradise Park and the Manoa Falls Hiking Trail, folk legends say you can hear a spectre screaming. Across the street from Kahala Mall is a graveyard. It is said that if you drive past the remaining portion of this graveyard with your windows open, you will feel somebody else is in your car. The story of the green lady is that of a woman who would visit the gulch of Wahiawa and will take any child that she comes across.

Hawaiian mythology

Hawaiian mythology comprises the legends, historical tales, and sayings of the ancient Hawaiian people. It is considered a variant of a more general Polynesian mythology, developing its own unique character for several centuries before about 1800. It is associated with the Hawaiian religion. The religion was officially suppressed in the 19th century, but kept alive by some practitioners to the modern day.

A statue of Hawaiian deity

Prominent figures and terms include Aumakua, the spirit of an ancestor or family god and Kāne, the highest of the four major Hawaiian deities.

List of Hawaiian state parks

There are many Hawaiian state parks. The main Hawaiʻi (island) has state parks, recreation areas, and historical parks. Kauaʻi has the Ahukini State Recreation Pier, six state parks, and the Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park. Maui has two state monuments, several state parks, and the Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area. Moloka‘i has the Pala'au State Park. Oʻahu has several state parks, a number of state recreation areas, and a number of monuments, including the Ulu Pō Heiau State Monument.

Literature in Hawaii

The literature in Hawaii is diverse and includes authors such as Kiana Davenport, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, and Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of The Descendants. Hawaiian magazines include Hana Hou!, Hawaii Business Magazine and Honolulu, among others.

Music of Hawaii

The music of Hawaii includes an array of traditional and popular styles, ranging from native Hawaiian folk music to modern rock and hip hop. Hawaii's musical contributions to the music of the United States are out of proportion to the state's small size. Styles like slack-key guitar are well-known worldwide, while Hawaiian-tinged music is a frequent part of Hollywood soundtracks. Hawaii also made a major contribution to country music with the introduction of the steel guitar.136

Traditional Hawaiian folk music is a major part of the state's musical heritage. The Hawaiian people have inhabited the islands for centuries and have retained much of their traditional musical knowledge. Their music is largely religious in nature, and includes chanting and dance music. Hawaiian music has had an enormous impact on the music of other Polynesian islands; indeed, music author Peter Manuel called the influence of Hawaiian music a "unifying factor in the development of modern Pacific musics".137

Polynesian mythology

Polynesian mythology is the oral traditions of the people of Polynesia, a grouping of Central and South Pacific Ocean island archipelagos in the Polynesian triangle together with the scattered cultures known as the Polynesian outliers. Polynesians speak languages that descend from a language reconstructed as Proto-Polynesian that was probably spoken in the Tonga - Samoa area around 1000 BC.

A sacred god figure wrapping for the war god 'Oro, made of woven dried coconut fibre (sennit), which would have protected a Polynesian god effigy (to'o), made of wood.

Prior to the 15th century AD, Polynesian people fanned out to the east, to the Cook Islands, and from there to other groups such as Tahiti and the Marquesas. Their descendants later discovered the islands from Tahiti to Rapa Nui, and later Hawai‘i and New Zealand.

Latest research puts the settlement of New Zealand at about 1300 AD. The various Polynesian languages are all part of the Austronesian language family. Many are close enough in terms of vocabulary and grammar to permit communication between some other language speakers. There are also substantial cultural similarities between the various groups, especially in terms of social organisation, childrearing, as well as horticulture, building and textile technologies; their mythologies in particular demonstrate local reworkings of commonly shared tales. The various Polynesian cultures each have distinct but related oral traditions, that is, legends or myths traditionally considered to recount the history of ancient times (the time of "pō") and the adventures of gods (“atua”) and deified ancestors.


Tourism is an important part of the Hawaii economy. In 2003 alone, according to state government data, there were over 6.4 million visitors to the Hawaiian Islands with expenditures of over $10 billion.138 Due to the mild year-round weather, tourist travel is popular throughout the year. The summer months and major holidays are the most popular times for outsiders to visit, however, especially when residents of the rest of the United States are looking to escape from cold, winter weather. The Japanese, with their economic and historical ties to Hawaii and the USA as well as relative geographical proximity, are also principal tourists.

Hawaii is home to numerous cultural events. The annual Merrie Monarch Festival is an international Hula competition.139 The state is also home to the Hawaii International Film Festival, the premier film festival for Pacific rim cinema.140 Honolulu is also home to the state's long running GLBT film festival, the Rainbow Film Festival.141142


Hawaii's health care system insures 92% (2009) of residents. Under the state's plan, businesses are required to provide insurance to employees who work more than twenty hours per week. Heavy regulation of insurance companies helps keep the cost to employers down. Due in part to heavy 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.


Public schools

Hawaii has the only school system within the United States that is unified statewide. Policy decisions are made by the fourteen-member state Board of Education. The Board sets policy and hires the superintendent of schools, who oversees the state Department of Education. The Department of Education is divided into seven districts, four on Oʻahu and one for each of the three other counties. The main rationale for centralization is to combat inequalities between highly populated Oʻahu and the more rural Neighbor Islands, and between lower-income and more affluent areas. In most of the United States, schools are funded from local property taxes. Educators struggle with children of non-native-English-speaking immigrants, whose cultures are different from those of the mainland (where most course materials and testing standards originate).

Public elementary, middle, and high school test scores in Hawaii are below national averages on tests mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act. Some of the gap has been attributed to the Hawaii Board of Education's requirement that all eligible students take these tests and report all student test scores (other states, Texas and Michigan for example, do not). Results reported in August 2005, indicate that of 282 schools across the state, 185 (2/3) failed to reach federal minimum performance standards in math and reading.143 On the other hand, the ACT college placement tests show that in 2005, seniors scored slightly above the national average (21.9 compared with 20.9).144 In the widely accepted SAT examinations, Hawaii's college-bound seniors tend to score below the national average in all categories except mathematics.

Private schools

Collectively, independent educational institutions of primary and secondary education have one of the highest percentages of enrollment of any state. During the 2011-2012 school year, Hawaii public and charter schools had an enrollment of 181,213,145 while private schools had 37,695.146 Private schools thus educated over 17% of the students that school year, nearly three times the approximate national average of 6%.147 It has four of the largest independent schools: ʻIolani School, Kamehameha Schools, Mid-Pacific Institute, and Punahou School. 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 controlled public charter school 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 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. In 2005, Kamehameha enrolled 5,398 students, 8.4% of the Native Hawaiian children in the state.148

Colleges and universities

Main Entrance of the University of Hawaii at Hilo

Graduates of secondary schools in Hawaii often enter directly into the work force. Some attend colleges and universities on the mainland or other countries, and the rest attend an institution of higher learning in Hawaii.

The largest is the University of Hawaii System. It consists of: the research university at Mānoa; two comprehensive campuses Hilo and West Oʻahu; and seven Community Colleges.

Private universities include Brigham Young University–Hawaii, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University, and Wayland Baptist University.

The Saint Stephen Diocesan Center is a seminary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.

Kona hosts the University of the Nations, which is not an accredited university.


The Hawaii State Capitol, as seen from the rim of Punchbowl Crater.

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 assisted by the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, both elected on the same ticket. The governor is the only state public official elected statewide; all others are appointed by the governor. The lieutenant governor acts as the Secretary of State. The governor and lieutenant governor oversee twenty agencies and departments from offices in the State Capitol. The official residence of the governor is Washington Place. The legislative branch consists of the bicameral Hawaii State Legislature, which is composed of the 51-member Hawaii House of Representatives led by the Speaker of the House and the 25-member Hawaii Senate led by the President of the Senate. The Legislature meets at the State Capitol.

The unified judicial branch of Hawaii is the Hawai'i State Judiciary. The state's highest court is the Supreme Court of Hawaii, which uses Aliʻiōlani Hale as its chambers. Unique to Hawaii is the lack of municipal governments. All local governments are administered at the county level. The only incorporated area in the state is a consolidated city–county, Honolulu County, which governs the entire island of Oahu. County executives are referred to as mayors: The mayor of Hawaii County, mayor of Honolulu, mayor of Kauaʻi and mayor of Maui. The mayors are all elected in nonpartisan races.

Political subdivisions

The movement of the Hawaiian royal family from the Big Island to Maui, and subsequently to Oʻahu, explains why population centers exist where they do today. Kamehameha III chose the largest city, Honolulu, as his capital because of its natural harbor, the present-day Honolulu Harbor.

Now the state capital, Honolulu is located along the southeast coast of Oʻahu. The previous capital was Lahaina, Maui, and before that Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Some major towns are Hilo; Kāneʻohe; Kailua; Pearl City; Waipahu; Kahului; Kailua-Kona. Kīhei; and Līhuʻe.

Hawaii comprises five counties: Hawaii County, Honolulu County, Kauai County, Kalawao County, and Maui County.

Federal government

Brian Schatz is the senior United States Senator from Hawaii

Hawaii is represented in the United States Congress by two Senators and two Representatives. All four are Democrats. Colleen Hanabusa represents the 1st congressional district in the House, representing southeastern Oahu, including central Honolulu. Tulsi Gabbard represents the 2nd congressional district, representing the rest of the state, which is mainly rural.

Brian Schatz is the senior United States Senator from Hawaii. He was appointed to the office on the December 26, 2012, by Governor Neil Abercrombie, following the death of former Senator Daniel Inouye. The state's junior senator is Mazie Hirono, the former Representative from the 2nd congressional district. Hirono owns the distinction of being the first Asian American female and first Buddhist senators. Hawaii incurred the biggest seniority shift between the 112th the 113th Congress. The Aloha state went from a delegation with senators who were first and 21st in seniority before Inouye’s death and Senator Daniel Akaka’s retirement, to senators who are 87th and 93rd.149

Federal officials in Hawaii are based at the Prince Kūhiō Federal Building near the Aloha Tower and Honolulu Harbor in Honolulu. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service and the Secret Service maintain their offices there, and the building is also the site of the federal District Court for the District of Hawaii and the United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii.

National politics

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2012 27.84% 121,015 70.55% 306,658
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

Since gaining statehood and participating in its first election in 1960, Hawaii has supported Democrats in every presidential election but two (1972 and 1984, both landslide victories for Republicans Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan respectively). During that time, only Minnesota has supported Republican candidates fewer times in presidential elections.

In 2004, John Kerry won the state's four electoral votes by a margin of nine percentage points with 54% of the vote. Every county 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.

Honolulu native Barack Obama, then serving as United States Senator from Illinois, was elected the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, and was reelected for a second term on November 6, 2012. Obama had won the Hawaiian Democratic Caucus on February 19, 2008 with 76% of the vote. He was the third Hawaii-born candidate to seek the nomination of a major party and the first presidential nominee from Hawaii.150151


A system of state highways encircles each main island. Only Oʻahu has federal highways, and is the only area outside the contiguous 48 states to have signed Interstate highways. Travel can be slow due to narrow winding roads, and congestion in populated places. Each major island has a public bus system.

The main welcome sign for Honolulu Airport

Honolulu International Airport (IATA:HNL), which shares runways with the adjacent Hickam Field (IATA:HIK), is the major commercial aviation hub of Hawaii. The commercial aviation airport offers intercontinental service to North America, Asia, Australia, and Oceania. Within Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines and go! use jets between the larger airports in Honolulu, Līhuʻe, Kahului, Kona and Hilo, while Island Air and Pacific Wings serve smaller airports. These airlines also provide air freight service amongst the islands.

Until air passenger service became available in the 1920s,152 private boats were the sole means of traveling between the islands.

Seaflite operated hydrofoils between the major islands in the mid-1970s.153 The Hawaii Superferry operated between Oʻahu and Maui between December 2007 and March 2009, with additional routes planned for other islands. Legal issues over environmental impact statements and protests ended the service, though the company operating Superferry has expressed a wish to begin ferry service again at a future date.154 Currently there is passenger ferry service in Maui County between Molokaʻi and Maui,155 and between Lanaʻi and Maui,156 though neither of these takes vehicles. Currently Norwegian Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises provide passenger cruise ship service between the larger islands.157158


At one time Hawaii had a network of railroads on each of the larger islands that helped move farm commodities as well as passengers. These railroads were all 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge for the majority; although there were some 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge on some of the smaller islands. Standard US gauge is 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm). The largest railroad by far was the Oahu Railway and Land Company (OR&L) which ran multiple lines from Honolulu across the western and northern part of Oahu.159

The OR&L was an important player moving troops and goods during World War II. Traffic on this line was busy enough that there were signals on the lines facilitating movement of trains and wigwag signals at some railroad crossings for the protection of motorists. The main line was officially abandoned in 1947; although part of it was bought by the US Navy and operated until 1970. Thirteen miles (21 km) of track remain and preservationists occasionally run trains over a portion of this line.159 The Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project aims to add elevated passenger rail on Oahu to relieve highway congestion.

Sister cities and twin towns

Hawaii has many sister cities and twin towns. Hawaii County is twinned with five Japanese cities and one Philippines city. Hilo is twinned with a Chilean city and a Japanese city. Honolulu is twinned with over 25 foreign cities, most notably Manila, Toronto, Seoul, and Tokyo. Kauai County is twinned with three Japanese cities. Maui County is twinned with over 20 cities, most notably Madrid and Manila. Waikiki is twinned with Bixby, Oklahoma.

See also


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Further reading

  • Bushnell, O. A. The Gifts of Civilization: Germs and Genocide in Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.
  • Holmes, T. Michael. The Specter of Communism in Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994.
  • Russ Jr., William Adam. The Hawaiian Republic (1894-98) and Its Struggle to Win Annexation. Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press, 1961.
  • 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. "Spaniard and the Sweet Potato in Hawaii and Hawaiian-American Contacts." American Anthropologist, New Series, vol. 34, no. 4 (1932) pp. 594–600.

External links

Preceded by
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on August 21, 1959 (50th)
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