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, state, United States

Hawaii (həwīˈē, häväˈē), 50th state of the United States, comprising a group of eight major islands and numerous islets in the central Pacific Ocean, c.2,100 mi (3,380 km) SW of San Francisco.

Facts and Figures

Area, 6,450 sq mi (16,706 sq km). Pop. (2020) 1,415,872, a 4.1% increase since the 2010 census. As of the 2020 census, the state's population was: White alone, 25.5%; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Island alone, 10.1%; Black alone, 2.2%; Hispanic or Latino, 10.7%; American Indian and Alaska native alone, 0.4%; Asian alone, 37.6%; Two or More Races, 24.2%. Capital and largest city, Honolulu. Statehood, Aug. 21, 1959 (50th state). Highest pt., Mauna Kea, 13,796 ft (4,208 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Aloha State. Motto, Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono [The Life of the Land Is Perpetuated in Righteousness]. State bird, Hawaiian goose. State flower, yellow hibiscus. State tree, candlenut. Abbr., HI

Land and People

The Hawaiian Islands are of volcanic origin and are edged with coral reefs. Hawaii is the largest and geologically the youngest island of the group, and Oahu, where the capital, Honolulu, is located, is the most populous and economically important. The other principal islands are Kahoolawe, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Niihau. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, consisting of uninhabited islets and excluding Midway, stretch more than 1,100 mi (1,800 km) from Nihoa to Kure. Most of islets are encompassed in the Hawaiian Island National Wildlife Refuge; the surrounding waters and coral reefs are in the vast 84-million-acre (34-million-hectare) Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Reserve. Palmyra atoll and Kingman Reef, which were within the boundaries of Hawaii when it was a U.S. territory, were excluded when statehood was achieved.

The only U.S. state in the tropics, Hawaii is sometimes called “the paradise of the Pacific” because of its spectacular beauty: abundant sunshine; expanses of lush green plants and gaily colored flowers; palm-fringed, coral beaches with rolling white surf; and cloud-covered volcanic peaks rising to majestic heights. Some of the world's largest active and inactive volcanoes are found on Hawaii and Maui; eruptions of the active volcanoes have provided spectacular displays, but their lava flows have occasionally caused great property damage. Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are volcanic mountains on Hawaii island; Haleakala volcano is on Maui in Haleakala National Park.

Vegetation is generally luxuriant throughout the islands, with giant fern forests in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Kahoolawe, however, is arid, and Niihau and Molokai have very dry seasons. Although many species of birds and domestic animals have been introduced on the islands, there are few wild animals other than boars and goats, and there are no snakes. The coastal waters abound with fish.

More ethnic and cultural groups are represented in Hawaii than in any other state. Chinese laborers, who came to work in the sugar industry, were the first of the large groups of immigrants to arrive (starting in 1852), and Filipinos and Koreans were the last (after 1900). Other immigrant groups—including Portuguese, Germans, Japanese, and Puerto Ricans—came in the latter part of the 19th cent. Intermarriage with other races has brought a further decrease in the number of pure-blooded Hawaiians, who comprise a very small percentage of the population.


Agricultural seeds, forestry, and macadamia nuts are Hawaii major agricultural sectors. Tropical fruits, flowers, greenhouse vegetables, and coffee are also important. Sugar cane and pineapple growing, once major industries, are no longer significant, though some pineapples are still grown for the fresh market. Other products include cattle and dairy products. Commercial fishing, especially tuna, is also significant. Tourism is, however, the leading source of income, and defense installations, including Pearl Harbor, follow.

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

Hawaii's constitution was drafted in 1950 and became effective with statehood in 1959. The governor is elected every four years. The legislature has a senate with 25 members and a house of representatives with 51 members. The state elects two representatives and two senators to the U.S. Congress and has four electoral votes. Multicultural Hawaii has long been a Democratic state, but Republicans have made recent gains.

Hawaii's institutions of higher learning include the Univ. of Hawaii, with campuses at Honolulu, Hilo, and Pearl City; Chaminade Univ. and Hawaii Pacific Univ., at Honolulu; and the Hawaii campus of Brigham Young Univ., at Laie, Oahu.


Early Settlers and Explorers

The first known settlers of the Hawaiian Islands were Polynesian voyagers, who may have arrived as early as A.D. 300; but were present by A.D. 800. The islands were first visited by Europeans in 1778 by the English explorer Captain James Cook, who named them the Sandwich Islands for the English Earl of Sandwich. At that time the islands were under the rule of warring native kings.

The Rule of Kamehameha I

In 1810 Kamehameha I (see under Kamehameha became the sole sovereign of all the islands, and, in the peace that followed, agriculture and commerce were promoted. As a result of Kamehameha's hospitality, American traders were able to exploit the islands' sandalwood, which was much valued in China at the time. Trade with China reached its height during this period. However, the period of Kamehameha's rule was also one of decline. Europeans and Americans brought with them devastating infectious diseases, and over the years the native population was greatly reduced. The adoption of Western ways—trading for profit, using firearms, and drinking liquor—contributed to the decline of native cultural tradition. This period also marked the breakdown of the traditional Hawaiian religion, with its belief in idols and human sacrifice; years of religious unrest followed.

Influence of the Missionaries

When missionaries arrived in 1820 they found a less idyllic Hawaii than the one Captain Cook had discovered. Kamehameha III, who ruled from 1825 until his death in 1854, relied on the missionaries for advice and allowed them to preach Christianity. The missionaries established schools, developed the Hawaiian alphabet, and used it for translating the Bible into Hawaiian. In 1839, Kamehameha III issued a guarantee of religious freedom, and the following year a constitutional monarchy was established. From 1842 to 1854 an American, G. P. Judd, held the post of prime minister, and under his influence many reforms were carried out. In the following decades commercial ties between Hawaii and the United States increased.

Development of the Sugar Industry

In 1848 the islands' feudal land system was abolished, making private ownership possible and thereby encouraging capital investment in the land. By this time the sugar industry, which had been introduced in the 1830s, was well established. Hawaiian sugar gained a favored position in U.S. markets under a reciprocity treaty made with the United States in 1875. The treaty was renewed in 1884 but not ratified. Ratification came in 1887 when an amendment was added giving the United States exclusive right to establish a naval base at Pearl Harbor. The amount of sugar exported to the United States increased greatly, and American businessmen began to invest in the Hawaiian sugar industry. Along with the Hawaiians in the industry, they came to exert powerful influence over the islands' economy and government, a dominance that was to last until World War II.

The Overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani and Annexation

Toward the end of the 19th cent., agitation for constitutional reform in Hawaii led to the overthrow (1893) of Queen Liliuokalani, who had ruled since 1891. A provisional government was established and John L. Stevens, the U.S. minister to Hawaii, proclaimed the country a U.S. protectorate. President Grover Cleveland, however, refused to annex Hawaii since most Hawaiians did not support a revolution; the Hawaiians and Americans in the sugar industry had encouraged the overthrow of the monarchy to serve their business needs.

The United States tried to bring about the restoration of Queen Liliuokalani, but the provisional government on the islands refused to give up power and instead established (1894) a republic with Sanford B. Dole as president. Cleveland's successor, President William McKinley, favored annexation, which was finally accomplished in 1898. In 1900 the islands were made a territory, with Dole as governor. In this period, Hawaii's pineapple industry expanded as pineapples were first grown for canning purposes. In 1937 statehood for Hawaii was proposed and refused by the U.S. Congress—the territory's mixed population and distance from the U.S. mainland were among the obstacles.

World War II and Statehood

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft made a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, plunging the United States into World War II. During the war the Hawaiian Islands were the chief Pacific base for U.S. forces and were under martial law (Dec. 7, 1941–Mar., 1943).

The postwar years ushered in important economic and social developments. There was a dramatic expansion of labor unionism, marked by major strikes in 1946, 1949, and 1958. The International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union organized the waterfront, sugar, and pineapple workers. The tourist trade, which had grown to major proportions in the 1930s, expanded further with postwar advances in air travel and with further investment and development. The building boom brought about new construction of luxury hotels and housing developments; Hawaii is home to one of the world's most expensively built resort, the Hyatt Regency Waikola, which cost $360 million to construct.

After having sought statehood for many decades, Hawaii was finally admitted to the union on Aug. 21, 1959; although it was thought at first to be solidly Republican, the state has long been a Democratic stronghold. Movements for a return of some sort of native sovereignty have been periodically active.

In Sept., 1992, the island of Kauai was devastated by Hurricane Iniki, the strongest hurricane to hit the islands in the century. Hawaii, which had enjoyed sustained economic and population growth since the end of World War II, saw both slow in the 1990s, as tourism, the sugar industry, military spending, and Japanese investment in the islands (particularly important in the 1980s) declined. In 1994, Democrat Benjamin J. Cayetano became the first Filipino American to be elected governor of a U.S. state; he was reelected in 1998. Linda Lingle, elected governor in 2002, was the second Republican to win the office since statehood, and she was reelected four years later. The election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 marked the first time someone born in Hawaii had been elected to the office. In 2010 Democrats regained the governor's office; governor David Ige (2015-) is of Japanese-Okinawan descent and is currently serving his second term in office. Senator Mazie Horono (2013-) holds the distinction of being the state's first elected female Senator, the Senate's sole Asian-American member, born in Japan, and also the Senate's only Buddhist (although she is non-practicing).


See J. Michener, Hawaii (1959); L. H. Fuchs, Hawaii Pono: A Social History (1961); R. S. Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom (3 vol., 1938–57); G. Daws, Shoal of Time (1968); S. Carlquist, Hawaii: A Natural History (1970); A. W. Lind, Hawaii's People (1980); J. Moon, Living with Nature in Hawaii (1987); J. F. Siler, Lost Kingdom (2012).


, island, United States

Hawaii, island (1990 pop. 120,217), 4,037 sq mi (10,456 sq km), largest and southernmost island of the state of Hawaii and coextensive with Hawaii co.; known as the Big Island. Geologically the youngest of the Hawaiian group, Hawaii is made up of five overlapping volcanic mountain masses rising from the floor of the Pacific Ocean—Kohala, the oldest and northernmost; Mauna Kea, the highest point in the state (13,796 ft/4,205 m above sea level); Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world; Hualalai, in the west; and Kilauea, on the SE slopes of Mauna Loa. Lava flows, some of which reach the sea, and volcanic ash cover parts of the island. The north and northeast coasts are rugged with high cliffs; the west and south coasts are generally low, with some good bathing beaches. An unusual black-sand beach lies on the southeast coast. Short rivers radiate from the major summits; Wailuku River, the longest, flows into Hilo Bay. Many waterfalls are on the island.

Hawaii has a tropical-rainy climate, with the north and east slopes receiving the most rain. The west and south slopes are much drier; the Kau Desert is in S Hawaii. Temperatures decrease with elevation; Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are usually snow-covered in winter. Vegetation varies from tropical rain forest to grasslands to barren volcanic areas. The island's principal agricultural industries are forestry and macadamia nut production. The Kona district of W Hawaii is the coffee belt of the United States and is also known for its health resorts and offshore deep-sea fishing.

Hilo, on the east coast, is the island's largest city and chief port and is the county seat. A highway, linking the coastal towns, encircles the island. At Kealakekua Bay there is a monument to Capt. James Cook, the first English explorer to visit (1778) the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park are on Hawaii (see National Parks and Monuments, table). All over the island heiaus (ancient temples) are found.

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Hawaii State Information

Phone: (808) 586-2211

Area (sq mi):: 10930.98 (land 6422.62; water 4508.36) Population per square mile: 198.50
Population 2005: 1,275,194 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 5.30%; 1990-2000 9.30% Population 2000: 1,211,537 (White 22.90%; Black or African American 1.80%; Hispanic or Latino 7.20%; Asian 41.60%; Other 32.40%). Foreign born: 17.50%. Median age: 36.20
Income 2000: per capita $21,525; median household $49,820; Population below poverty level: 10.70% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $28,422-$30,441
Unemployment (2004): 3.30% Unemployment change (from 2000): -0.70% Median travel time to work: 26.10 minutes Working outside county of residence: 1.30%

List of Hawaii counties:

  • Hawaii County
  • Honolulu City & County
  • Kalawao County
  • Kauai County
  • Maui County
  • Counties USA: A Directory of United States Counties, 3rd Edition. © 2006 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

    Hawaii Parks

    Parks Directory of the United States, 5th Edition. © 2007 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
    The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



    a state in the USA, encompassing the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Area, 16,700 sq km. Population, 799,000 (civilians, 1969), including Hawaiians (10,000), métis (105,000), Americans and groups of European origin (285,000), Japanese (208,000), Filipinos (73,000), and Chinese (42,000). About 70 percent of the population is urban. The official language is English; various native languages have been partially preserved in everyday life. The administrative center and principal port is Honolulu.

    Hawaii is the most important transportation junction in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean; through it pass the routes which connect the USA and Canada with East Asia, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. The principal sector of the economy is agriculture, with 1 million hectares under cultivation. About 97 percent of these lands belong to American companies and to large landowners, about 2 percent to small farmers. The best lands are occupied by plantations of export crops: pineapples, sugarcane (94,000 hectares, 1 million tons in 1969), coffee, sisal, and bananas. Flower horticulture has also been developed. The chief consumer crop is rice. Animal husbandry is of secondary importance and includes 246,000 cattle and 57,000 pigs (1970). The principal branches of industry are sugar processing and fruit canning. Tourism has been developed (1 million persons in 1967). In domestic transportation the principal role is played by maritime and motor-vehicle transport. Of total exports, 87 percent go to the USA.

    The Hawaiian Islands were discovered by the Englishman J. Cook in 1778, but as early as the 16th century they had been visited by Spanish seafarers. Europeans left several forms of governmental organization in Hawaii, which at the beginning of the 19th century merged into a single kingdom. By the end of the 19th century almost all the abundant resources of the Hawaiian Islands had been seized by foreigners, mostly Americans; of the Polynesian population of 300,000, only about 30,000 remained. In 1893 the queen of Hawaii was overthrown with the intervention of the USA; in 1894 the so-called Hawaiian Republic was established, which was directly dependent on the USA. The USA annexed Hawaii in 1898, at the height of the Spanish-American War, and in 1900 accorded it the status of a territory. Since 1908 Hawaii has been a military base of the USA in the Pacific Ocean. In 1959 the USA proclaimed the transformation of Hawaii into the 50th state.


    Kuropiatnik, G. P. Zakhvat Gavaiskikh ostrovov SShA. Moscow, 1958.



    the largest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Area, 10,399 sq km. Population, 61,300 (1960).

    Hawaii is made up of five peaks of basalt shield volcanoes that have merged: Mauna Kea (4,205 m), Mauna Loa (4,170 m), Hualalai (2,521 m), Kohala (1,678 m), and Kilauea (1,247 m). Mauna Loa and Kilauea are active volcanoes. The climate is maritime tropical: it is very humid on the windward northeastern slopes (with maximum annual precipitation of 3,600 mm). On the mountain slopes, which were previously completely covered with tropical forests, there are plantations of pineapple, sugarcane, and other tropical crops. The principal city is Hilo. Hawaii has a national park and a volcano observatory.

    The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.



    Dreams played a significant role in the traditional culture of the Hawaiian islands. As in many other traditional societies, dreams were regarded as communications from deities and from departed ancestors to ordinary mortals. Dreams were known as moe ‘uhane (“soul sleep”). While the body slept, the soul exited the body through the tear duct in the corner of the eye (the lau ‘uhane, or “soul pit”). After exiting, the soul traveled through this earthly realm or through spirit realms. Dreams were remembrances of these journeys. Rather than beginning dream accounts with “I had the weirdest dream …,” traditional Hawaiians would say, “My spirit saw….”

    It was believed that nightmares could be created by spirits who entered the sleeper’s body during the night. Traditional Hawaiians also believed that spirits could have sexual relations with sleepers, and were referred to as the dreamer’s “husband of the night” or “wife of the night.” When spirits delivered negative predictions about the future, they could be prayed to and supplicated for mercy. If the unpleasant future could not be entirely avoided, it was hoped that the relevant divinity would at least lessen the severity of the impending disaster.

    A variety of information could be received in dreams. Kahunas, traditional Hawaiian shamans, sometimes sought a cure for illnesses in dreams. New information acquired in this way became part of the shaman’s medicinal system. Similarly, when a family had problems or questions they wished answered, the head of the household would pray that the relevant information be provided during a dream. This information could be anything from guidance about the best place to fish to the appropriate name for a new baby.

    As with other groups, many dreams in traditional Hawaiian culture required little or no interpretation. For dreams requiring interpretation, certain individuals recognized as especially gifted dream interpreters were called upon. These individuals were often not part of the regular priesthood. All important dreams, especially those bearing on the larger family, were discussed by the whole household every morning.

    The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


    Fiftieth state; admitted on August 21, 1959

    Hawaii’s admission day anniversary is observed as a state holiday on the third Friday in August every year.

    State capital: Honolulu

    Nicknames: Aloha State; Paradise of the Pacific; Pineapple State

    State motto: Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono (Hawaiian “The Life of the Land Is Perpetuated in Righteousness”)

    State bird: Nene (pronounced nay-nay) or Hawaiian goose (Nesochen sandvicensis)

    State fish: Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (not official; rec­tangular trigger fish, Rhinecantus aculeatus)

    State flower: Pua aloalo (Yellow hibiscus, Hibiscus bracken­ridgei)

    State gem: Black coral

    State language: English and Hawaiian

    State mammal: Hawaiian monk seal (ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua; Monachus schauinslandi)

    State marine mammal: Humpback whale

    State song: “Hawaii Ponoi”

    State tree: Kukui (Candlenut, Aleurites moluccana)

    More about state symbols at:


    More about the state at:



    AmerBkDays-2000, p. 600 AnnivHol-2000, p. 146


    State web site: www.hawaii.gov

    Office of the Governor 415 S Beretania St State Capitol Honolulu, HI 96813 808-586-0034 fax: 808-586-0006 gov.state.hi.us

    Hawaii State Public Library 478 S King St Honolulu, HI 96813 808-586-3505 www.hcc.hawaii.edu/hspls

    Legal Holidays:

    Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
    King Kamehameha I DayJun 11
    Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole DayMar 26
    Statehood DayAug 19, 2011; Aug 17, 2012; Aug 16, 2013; Aug 15, 2014; Aug 21, 2015; Aug 19, 2016; Aug 18, 2017; Aug 17, 2018; Aug 16, 2019; Aug 21, 2020; Aug 20, 2021; Aug 19, 2022; Aug 18, 2023
    Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


    a state of the US in the central Pacific, consisting of over 20 volcanic islands and atolls, including Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and Molokai: discovered by Captain Cook in 1778; annexed by the US in 1898; naval base at Pearl Harbor attacked by the Japanese in 1941, a major cause of US entry into World War II; became a state in 1959. Capital: Honolulu. Pop.: 1 257 608 (2003 est.). Area: 16 640 sq. km (6425 sq. miles)
    Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
    References in periodicals archive ?
    Business in Hawai'i may be booming in almost every sector, but we are running low on the most critical resource to continue our economy's sizzling growth: Labor.
    The VVV was formed in late February 1942, two weeks after all Nisei had been expelled as security risks from Hawai'i's version of the National Guard.
    In 1998, the HEBCP, recognizing that the true value of our efforts might lie in the educational opportunity it afforded the children of Hawai'i, formed a new partnership with the Keakealani Outdoor Education Center (KOEC).
    I had taken him and his colleagues on, naming names and telling it how I see it--that they are misleading our people into believing that federal recognition is the first step toward full independence for Hawai'i. He seemed surprised to see how young I was, as he said, "Oh, you're that professor from Connecticut?
    The Pride of Hawai'i will be a sister of the recently announced Bahamas-flagged Norwegian Jewel.
    By the mid-twentieth century, the idea that English was the language of Hawai'i seemed natural, especially because, except by some persistent Kanaka, Hawai'i was no longer regarded as a separate nation with its own people having their own history and language.
    'Due to the State's unique geography, HA (Hawaiian Airlines) provides a service to Hawai'i that is unmatched anywhere else in the U.S.
    These articles on education during the 20th century continued the story of American hegemony and colonization, demonstrating that from 1900 to the beginning of World War II, descendants of the American missionaries and other white Americans who had either immigrated to Hawai'i or were born and raised there had utilized military drill in the form of ROTC and the expansion of vocational secondary education to protect and extend the hegemony that was achieved during most of the nineteenth century.
    Hawaiian Airlines will begin its five-day-a-week service on April 4 -- more than a week before Patriots' Day on April 15 -- and timed to offer winter-weary New Englanders a vacation of wonder and fun where they can experience all the best that Hawai'i has to offer: a rainbow of tropical outdoor activities from water sports to hiking for all abilities, some of the world's best beaches, and the warm Aloha from those who call the islands home.
    Hawaii American Water provides quality wastewater services to 36,000 people on Oahu and the Big Island of Hawai'i and a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water (NYSE:AWK).
    Researchers from the University of Hawai'i found that increases in average temperature mean that avian malaria can now be transmitted at an elevation of 6,200 feet.
    TELECOMWORLDWIRE-December 15, 2017-Cincinnati Bell-Hawaiian Telcom merger gets Hawai'i DCCA approval