Kalawao County, Hawaii

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Kalawao County, Hawaii
Map of Hawaii highlighting Kalawao County
Location in the state of Hawaii
Map of the United States highlighting Hawaii
Hawaii's location in the U.S.
Founded 1905
Seat none (administered by Hawaii Dept. of Health)
Largest community Kalaupapa
 • Total 52.33 sq mi (136 km2)
 • Land 13.21 sq mi (34 km2)
 • Water 39.12 sq mi (101 km2), 75%
 • (2010) 90
 • Density 10/sq mi (4/km²)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Hawaii-Aleutian: UTC-10

Kalawao County is a county located in the U.S. state of Hawaii.1 The county is on the Kalaupapa or Makanalua Peninsula, on the north coast of the island of Molokaʻi. The small peninsula of Kalaupapa is isolated from the rest of Molokaʻi by sea cliffs over a quarter-mile high—the only land access is a mule trail.

Kalawao County does not have the functions of other Hawaii counties. It is a judicial district of Maui County, which includes the rest of the island of Molokai. The county has no elected government. It is administered by the Hawaii Department of Health, and the only county statutes that apply to Kalawao County directly are on matters of health.2


Kalawao County is a separate county from the rest of Molokaʻi, which is part of Maui County.

The county is coextensive with the Kalaupapa National Historical Park, and encompasses the Kalaupapa Settlement where the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, the Republic of Hawaiʻi, the territory, and the state once exiled persons suffering from leprosy (Hansen's disease) beginning in the 1860s. The quarantine policy was lifted in 1969, after the disease became treatable on an outpatient basis and could be rendered non-contagious. However, many of the resident patients chose to remain, and the state promised that they could stay there for the rest of their lives. No new patients, or other permanent residents, are admitted. Visitors are only permitted as part of officially sanctioned tours. State law prohibits anyone under the age of 16 from visiting or living there, although limited exceptions have been made for children seeing their relatives.

With a population of 90 at the 2010 census, Kalawao County's population is the second smallest of any county in the United States, behind only Loving County, Texas.


Kalawao County lacks a local, county government. Instead, Kalawao County is administered by the Hawaii Department of Health. Under Hawaiian state law, the Director of the Hawaii Department of Health, who is appointed by the Governor, also serves as the Mayor of Kalawao County.3456 The Mayor holds executive powers within Kalawao County.5 The Mayor of Kalawao County also appoints a county sheriff, who is selected from local residents.7


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 52.33 square miles (135.5 km2), of which 13.21 square miles (34.2 km2) (or 25.24%) is land and 39.12 square miles (101.3 km2) (or 74.76%) is water8 (mostly the Pacific Ocean). By land area, it is the smallest county in the United States.citation needed

Kalaupapa Peninsula

The county has the Kalaupapa Peninsula, which contains the county's only settlement, Kalaupapa. The Kalaupapa Peninsula was created when lava erupted from the ocean floor near Kauhako Crater and spread outward, forming a low, shield volcano. This was the most recent volcanic episode on the island and of the larger East Molokai shield volcano, occurring after the formation of the cliffs by erosion. Today, the dormant crater contains a small lake more than 800 feet (240 m) deep.


Traditionally, the area of Kalawao County has been composed of four ahupuaʻa. The ahupuaʻa are listed below, from west to east:910

Nr. Ahupuaʻa Area
1 Kalaupapa 2.079 5.385 122
2 Makanalua 3.229 8.363 8
3 Kalawao 3.294 8.531 9
4 Waikolu 5.544 14.359 0
  Kalawao County 14.146 36.638 139

Kalaupapa ahupuaʻa is located on the west side of Kalaupapa peninsula, and includes a section of Molokaʻi's coast further west. Makanalua ahupuaʻa is a strip of land in the center of the peninsula that runs to its northern tip. Kalaupapa Airport is located in the north of Makanalua ahupuaʻa. Kalawao ahupuaʻa includes the eastern coast of Kalaupapa peninsula and Waialeia Valley to the southeast. Further southeast is virtually uninhabited Waikolu ahupuaʻa in the namesake valley.11

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 1,177
1910 785 −33.3%
1920 667 −15.0%
1930 605 −9.3%
1940 446 −26.3%
1950 340 −23.8%
1960 279 −17.9%
1970 172 −38.4%
1980 144 −16.3%
1990 130 −9.7%
2000 147 13.1%
2010 90 −38.8%
Est. 2012 90 0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census12
2012 Estimate13

As of the census of 2000,14 there were 147 people, 115 households, and 21 families residing in the county. The population density was 11 people per square mile (4/km²). There were 172 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 25.85% White, 17.01% Asian, 48.30% Pacific Islander, 2.72% from other races, and 6.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.08% of the population.

There were 115 households out of which 1.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 16.50% were married couples living together, 2.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 80.90% were non-families. 79.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 31.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.28 and the average family size was 2.27.

In the county the population was spread out with 2.00% under the age of 18, 1.40% from 18 to 24, 18.40% from 25 to 44, 46.30% from 45 to 64, and 32.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 59 years. For every 100 females there were 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.80 males.

The results of the censuses of population since 1900 shows the decline of population:15

The annual population estimates since the last census of population 2000 (as of July 1 of each year) show a further decline in population:16

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
145 138 133 129 119 119 119 118 117 83 90


The only access to Kalawao County is by air, or by a steep mule trail which descends 1,600 feet from topside Molokai. Kalaupapa Airport, which is located within the county, has scheduled air service to Molokai Airport and to Honolulu Airport.

Freight is delivered to the county once a year, usually in July, by barge to the jetty at Kalaupapa.17


  1. ^ http://www.hawaiihighways.com/FAQs-page6.htm#Kalawao.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Hawaii's 4 (or 5) Counties". Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  3. ^ Dingeman, Robbie (2002-10-31). "Smallest county to ban smoking". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  4. ^ Rawlings, Nate (2013-12-12). "Hawaii Official Killed in Plane Crash". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  5. ^ a b Uyeno, Kristine (2013-12-12). "Hawaii Official Killed in Plane Crash". KHON. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  6. ^ Kakesako, Gregg K. (2013-12-12). "Pilot described 'catastrophic engine failure' in Molokai crash". Honolulu Star Advertiser. Archived from the original on 2014-01-02. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  7. ^ "Department of Health Administrative Offices". State of Hawaiʻi. Retrieved -2010-09-28. 
  8. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  9. ^ city-data.com: Kalaupa Ahupuaʻa, etc.
  10. ^ city-data.com: Waikolu Ahupuaʻa
  11. ^ Mark D. McCoy: The Lands of the Hina: An Archeological Overview and Assessment of Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Molokaʻi, Chapter 8: Assessment, Seite 33
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved July 24, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Census.gov. Retrieved July 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  15. ^ Burea of the Census: HAWAII. Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990
  16. ^ Kalawao County, Hawaii, 2010
  17. ^ "Life Today in Kalaupapa". National Park Service. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 

External links

Coordinates: 21°11′49″N 156°58′02″W / 21.19694°N 156.96722°W / 21.19694; -156.96722

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