State of Hawaii
Moku‘āina ‘o Hawai‘i
Missing image
State flag of Hawaii

State seal of Hawaii
(Flag of Hawaii) (Seal of Hawaii)
State nickname: The Aloha State
Map of the U.S. with Hawaii highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Honolulu
Largest city Honolulu
Governor Linda Lingle
Official languages Hawaiian and English
Area 28,337 km² (43rd)
 - Land 16,649 km²
 - Water 11,672 km² (41.2%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 1,211,537 (42nd)
 - Density 42.75 /km² (13th)
Admission into Union
 - Date August 21, 1959
 - Order 50th
Time zoneHawaii: UTC-10/ (no daylight saving time)
Latitude18?55'N to 29?N
Longitude154?40'W to 162?W
Width n/a km
Length 2,450 km
 - Highest 4,206 m
 - Mean 925 m
 - Lowest 0 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-HI
Web site www.hawaii.gov

Hawaii (Hawaiian/Hawaiian English: Hawai‘i, with the ‘okina) is the archipelago of the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii constitutes the 50th state of the United States, and as of the 2000 U.S. Census had a population of 1,211,537 people. Honolulu is the largest city and the state capital.

This state most recently admitted into the Union has many distinctions. In addition to possessing the southernmost point in the United States, it is the only state that lies completely in the tropics. As one of two states outside the contiguous United States (the other being Alaska), it is the only one without territory on the mainland of any continent and is the only state that continues to grow due to active lava flows, most notably from Kīlauea. Ethnically, it is the only state that does not have a white majority (and one of only three in which non-Hispanic whites do not form a majority) and has the largest percentage of Asian Americans. Ecologically and agriculturally, it is the endangered species capital of the world and is the only industrial producer of coffee, and chocolate in the nation.

Hawaii is also the namesake and backdrop of a popular 1959 novel by James Michener and its 1966 movie adaptation.



The state constitution and various other measures of the Hawaii State Legislature established official symbols meant to embody the distinctive culture and heritage of Hawaii. These include a state bird, state fish, state flower, state gem, state mammal and state tree. Included are the two statues representing Hawaii in the United States Capitol.

The primary symbol is the state flag, Ka Hae Hawaii, influenced by the Union Jack and features eight horizontal stripes representing the eight major Hawaiian Islands. The constitution declares the state motto to be Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono, a pronouncement of King Kamehameha III meaning, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." It was also the motto of the kingdom, republic and territory. The official languages are Hawaiian and Hawaiian English. Hawaiian Pidgin is an unofficial language. The state song is Hawaii ponoi, written by King Kalākaua and composed by Henri Berger. Hawaii Aloha is the unofficial state song, often sung in official state events.


Main article: Hawaiian Islands

Nineteen islands and atolls extending across a distance of 2,400 km (1,500 mi) comprise the Hawaiian Archipelago. The main islands are the eight high islands at the southeastern end of the island chain. These islands are, in order from the northwest to southeast, Niihau, Kauai, Oʻahu, Molokai, Lānai, Kahoʻolawe, Maui and the Island of Hawaii.

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Map of Hawaii (main islands)

All of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanoes arising from the sea floor through a vent described in geological theory as a hotspot. The theory maintains that as the tectonic plate beneath much the Pacific Ocean moves in a northwesterly direction, the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. This explains why only volcanoes on the the southern half of the Island of Hawaii are presently active. The last volcanic eruption outside the Island of Hawaii happened at Haleakala on Maui in the late 18th century. The newest volcano to form is Loihi, deep below the waters off the south coast of the Island of Hawaii.

The isolation of the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the wide range of environments to be found on high islands located in and near the tropics has resulted in a vast array of endemic flora and fauna. The volcanic activity and subsequent erosion created impressive geological features. Those conditions created made Mount Waiʻaleʻale the wettest place on earth; it averages 11.7 m (460 in) of rain annually.

The movement of the Hawaiian royal family from the Island of Hawaii to Maui and subsequently to Oʻahu explains why certain population centers exist where they do today. The largest city, Honolulu, was the one chosen by King Kamehameha III as the capital of his kingdom due to the natural harbor there, the present-day Honolulu Harbor. Other large cities and towns include Hilo, Kahului and Līhuʻe.


Hawaiian antiquity

Main article: Ancient Hawaii, Hawaiian mythology, Polynesian mythology

Anthropologists believe that Polynesians from the Marquesas and Society Islands first populated the Hawaiian Islands approximately 1500 years ago. These first peoples preserved memories of the early migrations orally through genealogies and folk tales, like the stories of Hawaiiloa and Paʻao. Relations with other Polynesian groups were sporadic during the early migratory periods, and Hawaii grew from small settlements to a complex society in near isolation. Local chiefs called alii ruled their settlements and fought to extend their sway and defend their communities from predatory rivals. Warfare was endemic. The general trend was towards chiefdoms of increasing size, even encompassing whole islands.

Vague reports by various European explorers suggest that Hawaii was visited by foreigners well before the 1778 arrival of British explorer Captain James Cook. Historians credited Cook with the discovery after he was the first to plot and publish the geographical coordinates of the Hawaiian Islands. Cook named his discovery the Sandwich Islands in honor of one of his sponsors, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.

Hawaiian kingdom

Main article: Kingdom of Hawaii

After a series of battles that ended in 1795 and peaceful cession of the island of Kauai in 1810, the Hawaiian Islands were united for the first time 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. One of the most important events during those years was the suppression of the Hawaii Catholic Church. That led to the Edict of Toleration that established religious freedom in the Hawaiian Islands. The death of the bachelor King Kamehameha V who did not name an heir resulted in the election of King Lunalilo. After him, governance was passed on to the House of Kalākaua. However, American interests effectively rendered the monarchy powerless by enacting the Bayonet Constitution. Among other things, it stripped the king of his administrative authorities and deprived native Hawaiians of the right to vote in elections. King Kalākaua reigned until his death in 1891. His sister, Lili'uokalani, succeeded him to the throne and ruled until her dethronement in 1893, a coup d'鴡t orchestrated by American plantation owners with the help of an armed militia and the United States Marine Corps. Governance was again passed, this time into the hands of a provisional government and then to an independent Republic of Hawaii. During the kingdom era and subsequent republican regime, Iolani Palace — the only official royal residence in the United States today — served as the capitol building.

Hawaiian territory

Main article: Territory of Hawaii

The Newlands Resolution was passed on July 7, 1898, formally annexing Hawaii as a United States territory. In 1900, it was granted self-governance and retained Iolani Palace as the territorial capitol building. Though several attempts were made to achieve statehood, Hawaii remained a territory for sixty years. Plantation owners, like those that comprised the so-called Big Five, found territorial status convenient, enabling them to continue importing cheap foreign labor; such immigration was prohibited in various other states of the Union.

The power of the plantation owners was finally broken by activist descendants of original immigrant laborers. Because they were born in a United States territory, they were legal American citizens. Expecting to gain full voting rights, they actively campaigned for statehood for the Hawaiian Islands. On March 18, 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Admission Act which made Hawaii the 50th state of the Union, a law that became effective on August 21, 1959.

Hawaiian statehood

After statehood, Hawaii quickly became a modern state with a construction boom and rapidly growing economy. The Hawaii Republican Party, which was strongly supported by the plantation owners, was voted out of office. In its place, the Hawaii Democratic Party dominated state politics for forty years. The state also worked toward restoring the native Hawaiian culture that was suppressed after the overthrow. The Hawaii State Constitutional Convention of 1978 heralded what some called a Hawaiian renaissance. Its delegates created programs that sought to revive the indigenous Hawaiian language and culture. In addition, they sought to promote native control over Hawaiian issues by creating the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Prevalent in post-statehood Hawaii was an increase in combative attitudes by some native Hawaiians towards the federal government, which is seen by some as an occupying power. Regrets over the demise of the Hawaiian monarchy produced several political organizations that are collectively known as the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. The movement's most prominent success was the passage of the Apology Resolution of 1993 that made redress for American actions leading to the overthrow of the kingdom. The resolution was passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton.


Main article: Hawaiian language

The state of Hawaii has two official languages as prescribed by the Constitution of Hawaii adopted at the 1978 constitutional convention: Hawaiian and English. Article XV, Section 4 requires the use of Hawaiian in official state business such as public acts, documents, laws and transactions. Standard Hawaiian English, a subset of American English, is also commonly used for other formal business. Hawaiian is legally acceptable in all legal documents, from depositions to legislative bills.


Before the arrival of Captain James Cook, the Hawaiian language was purely a spoken language. The first written form of Hawaiian was developed by American Protestant missionaries in Hawaii during the early 19th century. The missionaries assigned letters from the English alphabet that roughly correspond to the Hawaiian sounds. Later, additional characters were added to clarify pronunciation. The ʻokina indicates a glottal stop while the macron called kahakō signifies a long vowel sound. When a Hawaiian word is spelled without any necessary ʻokina and kahakō, it is impossible for someone who does not already know the word to guess at the proper pronunciation. Omission of the ʻokina and kahakō in printed texts can even obscure the meaning of the word. For example, the word lanai means stiff-necked. However, when spelled as lānai it means veranda while Lānai refers to an island. This can be a problem in interpreting 19th century Hawaiian texts recorded in the older orthography. For these reasons, careful writers use the modern Hawaiian orthography.


As a result of the constitutional provision, interest in the Hawaiian language was revived in the late 20th century. Public and independent schools throughout the state began teaching Hawaiian language standards as part of the regular curricula, beginning with preschool. With the help of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, also 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 System developed the only Hawaiian language graduate studies program in the world. Municipal codes were altered in favor of Hawaiian place and street names for new civic developments.


Over the course of Hawaiian history, a third language was developed that is in common use throughout the state today. Originally considered a mere dialect of Hawaiian English, cultural anthropologists have recently reached consensus that Hawaiian Pidgin is a distinct language on its own. Hawaiian Pidgin finds its origins in the sugarcane and pineapple plantations as laborers from different cultures were forced to find their own ways of communicating and understanding each other. Laborer emigrants from different countries — China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Portugal — began composing their own words and phrases based on their own language traditions merged with Hawaiian and Hawaiian English.


A somewhat divisive political issue that has arisen since the Constitution of Hawaii adopted Hawaiian as an official state language is the exact spelling of the state's name. As prescribed in the Admission Act of 1959 that granted Hawaiian statehood, the federal government recognizes Hawaii to be the official state name. However, many state and municipal entities and officials have recognized Hawaii to be the correct state name. Official government publications, as well as department and office titles, use the traditional Hawaiian spelling. Private entities, including local mass media, also have shown a preference for the use of the ʻokina. While in local Hawaiian society the spelling and pronunciation of Hawaii is preferred in nearly all cases, even by standard English speakers, the federal spelling is used for purposes of interpolitical relations between other states and foreign governments.

The nuances in the Hawaiian language debate are often not obvious or well-appreciated 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.

See also


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Hawaii State Capitol

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 Washington Place, 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 Hawaii State Capitol. The governor and lieutenant governor oversee the major agencies and departments of the executive of which there are twenty.

The legislative branch consists of the Hawaii State Legislature — the twenty-five members of the Hawaii State Senate led by the President of the Senate and the fifty-one members of the Hawaii State House of Representatives led by the Speaker of the House. They also govern from the Hawaii State Capitol. The judicial branch is led by the highest state court, the Hawaii State Supreme Court, which uses Aliiolani Hale 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 the First Congressional District of Hawaii and the representative of the Second Congressional District of Hawaii. 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 locally from the Prince Kuhio Federal Building near the Aloha Tower and Honolulu Harbor.

The Prince Kuhio Federal Building building also houses agencies of the federal government such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 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 law enforcement officer of the United States Department of Justice 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 except the City & County of Honolulu. All other municipal governments are administered at the county level. The county executives are the Mayor of Hawaii, Mayor of Honolulu, Mayor of Kauai and Mayor of Maui. All mayors in the state are elected in nonpartisan races.

The officers of the federal and state governments have been historically elected from the Hawaii Democratic Party and the Hawaii Republican Party. Municipal charters in the state have declared all mayors to be elected in nonpartisan races.


The history of Hawaii can be traced through a succession of dominating industries: sandalwood, whaling, sugarcane, pineapple, military, tourism, and education. Since statehood was achieved in 1959, tourism continues to be the largest industry in Hawaii. Most recently, new efforts were created to diversify the economy. The total gross output for the state in 2003 was USD $47 billion. Per capita income for Hawaii residents was USD $30,441.

Industrial exports from Hawaii include food processing and apparel. However, because of the considerable shipping distance to markets on the west coast of the United States and ports of Japan, these industries play a small role in the Hawaii economy. The main agricultural exports are nursery stock and flowers, coffee, macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, and sugar cane. Agricultural sales for 2002, according to the Hawaii Agricultural Statistics Service, were USD $370.9 million from diversified agriculture, USD $100.6 million from pineapple, and USD $64.3 million from sugarcane.

Hawaii is known for its relatively high per capita state tax burden. In the years 2002 and 2003, Hawaii residents had the highest state tax per capita at USD $2,757 and USD $2,838 respectively. This rate can be explained partly by the fact that services such as education, health care and social services are all rendered at the state level — as opposed to the municipal level as all other states. Also, millions of tourists contribute to the collection figure by paying the general excise tax and hotel room tax. Therefore, not all the taxes collected come directly from residents. However, business leaders have oftend considered the state's tax burden as being too high, contributing to both higher prices and the perception of an unfriendly business climate [1] (http://starbulletin.com/2004/05/21/news/story1.html). For more information about commercial industries in Hawaii, see the list of businesses in Hawaii.


Main article: Hawaii State Department of Education

Hawaii is currently the only state in the union with a unified school system statewide. It is also the oldest public education system west of the Mississippi River. Policy decisions are made by the fourteen-member state Board of Education, with thirteen members elected for four-year terms and one non-voting student member. The Board of Education sets statewide educational policy and hires the state superintendent of schools, who oversees the operations of the state Department of Education. The Department of Education is also divided into seven districts, four on Oʻahu and one for each of the other counties.

The structure of the state Department of Education has been a subject of discussion and controversy in recent years. The main rationale for the current centralized model is equity in school funding and distribution of resources: leveling out inequalities that would exist between highly populated Oʻahu and the more rural Neighbor Islands, and between lower-income and more affluent areas of the state. This system of school funding differs from many localities in the United States where schools are funded from local property taxes.

However, policy initiatives have been made in recent years toward decentralization. Current Governor Linda Lingle is a proponent of replacing the current statewide board with seven elected district boards. The Democrat-controlled state legislature opposed her proposal, instead favoring expansion of decision-making power to the schools and giving schools more discretion over budgeting. Political debate of structural reform is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Schools and academies

Hawaii has the distinction of educating more students in independent institutions of secondary education than any other state in the United States. It also has three of the largest independent schools: Iolani School, Kamehameha Schools and Punahou School. Other popular independent schools include: Hawaii Baptist Academy, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Maryknoll School, Sacred Hearts Academy and Saint Louis School. A high rated public high school often cited as comparable to the state's independent schools is Moanalua High School.

For a comprehensive list of independent schools, see the list of independent schools in Hawaii. For a comprehensive list of public schools, see the list of public schools in Hawaii.

Colleges and universities

Graduates of institutions of secondary learning in Hawaii often either enter directly into the workforce 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 Hawaii System. Its main campuses are in Hilo, Manoa and West Oʻahu. Students choosing private education attend Brigham Young University Hawaii, Chaminade University of Honolulu and Hawaii Pacific University. The Saint Stephen Diocesan Center is a seminary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu. For a comprehensive list of colleges and universities, see the list of colleges and universities in Hawaii.



Two major competing Honolulu-based newspapers serve all of Hawaii. The Honolulu Advertiser is owned by Gannett Pacific Corporation while the Honolulu Star-Bulletin is owned by Black Press of British Columbia in Canada. Both are two of the largest newspapers in the United States, in terms of circulation. Other locally published newspapers are available to residents of the various islands. The Hawaii business community is served by the Pacific Business News and Hawaii Business Magazine. The largest religious community in Hawaii is served by the Hawaii Catholic Herald. Honolulu Magazine is a popular magazine that offers local interest news and feature articles. Apart from the mainstream press, the state also enjoys a vibrant ethnic publication presence with newspapers for the Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Native Hawaiian communities. In addition, there is an alternative weekly, the Honolulu_Weekly.


All the major television networks are represented in Hawaii through KFVE (WB network affiliate), KGMB (CBS network affiliate), KHET (PBS network affiliate), KHNL (NBC network affiliate), KHON (FOX network affiliate), KIKU (UPN network affiliate) and KITV (ABC network affiliate), among others. From Honolulu, programming at these stations are rebroadcast to the various other islands via networks of satellite transmitters. Until the advent of satellite, most network programming was broadcast a week behind mainland scheduling. The various production companies that work with the major networks have produced television series and other projects in Hawaii. Most notable were police dramas like Magnum P.I. and Hawaii Five-O. Currently, the hit TV show Lost is filmed in the Hawaiian Islands. A comprehensive list of such projects can be seen at the list of Hawaii television series.


Hawaii has a growing film industry administered by the state through the Hawaii Film Office. Several television shows, movies and various other media projects were produced in the Hawaiian Islands taking advantage of the natural scenic landscapes as backdrops. Notable films produced in Hawaii or were inspired by Hawaii include Hawaii, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, From Here to Eternity, George of the Jungle, 50 First Dates, Pearl Harbor, Blue Crush and Lilo & Stitch.

Hawai'i is home to a prominent film festival known as the Hawaii International Film Festival.


Main article: Culture of Hawaii

The aboriginal culture of Hawaii;i 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 influencing modern Hawaiian society, there are re뮡ctments of ancient ceremonies and traditions throughout the islands. Some of these cultural influences are strong enough to have impacted the culture of the United States at large, including the popularity (in greatly modified form) of luaus and hula.


The population of Hawaii (Hawaii) is approximately 1.2 million, while the de facto population is over 1.3 million due to military presence and tourists. Oʻahu is the most populous island, with a population of just under one million.

Hawaii was the first majority-minority state in the United States since the Reconstruction era. According to the 2000 Census, 6.6% of Hawaii's population identified themselves as Native Hawaiian, 24.3% were White or Caucasian, including Portuguese and 41.6% were Asian, including 0.1% Asian Indian, 4.7% Chinese, 14.1% Filipino, 16.7% Japanese, Okinawan, 1.9% Korean and 0.6% Vietnamese. 1.3% were other Pacific Islander which includes Tongan, Tahitian, Maori and Micronesian, and 21.4% described themselves as mixed (two or more races/ethnic groups). 1.8% were Black or African American and 0.3% were American Indian and Alaska Native.

The second group of foreigners to arrive upon Hawaii's shores, after the 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 "civilized" ways. 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 1850's, to work on the sugar plantations. The first Japanese arrived in Hawaii on February 9, 1885.

The largest city is the capital, Honolulu, located along the southeast coast of the island of Oʻahu. Other populous cities include Hilo, Kāneʻohe, Kailua, Pearl City, Kahului, and Kailua-Kona.

Famous people from Hawaii

The list of famous people from Hawaii is a comprehensive, alphabetized list of persons who have achieved fame that presently or at one time claimed Hawaii as their home. Separate registers of members of the Hawaiian royal family and Hawaii politicians are also available.

See also

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