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Hawaii Information
By Beachcomber, retrieved from Wikipedia
Nov 3, 2003, 09:20

Hawaii (in the Hawaiian language and as used increasingly in that place, spelled Hawai‘i with the ‘okina) is the North Central Pacific Ocean archipelago of the Hawaiian Islands, constituting the 50th state of the United States. As of the 2000 Census, the population of the state was 1,211,537. Honolulu is the largest city and the state capital.

Hawaii, the state most recently admitted into the Union, has many distinctions. In addition to having the southernmost point in the United States, it is the only state that lies as a whole in the tropics. As one of two states outside the contiguous United States, 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 Kîlauea. Ethnically, it is one of only two states that do not have a Caucasian 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 in the nation.


State symbols

The Constitution of Hawaii and various other measures of the Hawaii State Legislature establishes official state symbols. Such symbols were meant to embody the distinctive culture of Hawaii as opposed to the cultures of other states.

  • The state languages are Hawaiian and English.
  • The state motto is Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono, which means The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. Coined by Kamehameha III, it was the motto of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i.
  • The state flag is called Ka Hae Hawai‘i. It is influenced by the Union Jack of the United Kingdom. The flag features eight horizontal stripes representing the eight major islands.
  • The state song is Hawai‘i pono‘i, written by David Kalâkaua and composed Henri Berger. Hawai‘i Aloha is considered an unofficial state song and is used often in formal events.
  • The state bird is the nçnç, also called the Hawaiian Goose.
  • The state fish is the humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, also called the Reef Triggerfish.
  • The state flower is the ma‘o hau hele, an endemic yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei).
  • The state gem is the ‘çkaha kű moana or black coral.
  • The state tree is the kuku‘i, a candlenut tree (Aleurites moluccana) introduced by early Polynesians.
  • The state statues in the United States Capitol are of Kamehameha the Great and Father Damien.



The State of Hawaii has two official languages as prescribed by the state constitution: Hawaiian and English. Article XV, Section 4 of that constitution requires the use of Hawaiian in official state business, such as public acts and transactions. Though legislation has directed the use of Hawaiian in some public acts and transactions, standard American English is the language of formal business.

Starting late in the 20th century, interest in the use of traditional Hawaiian-language spelling has been revived; this is increasingly being taught in schools. The written form of Hawaiian was developed by Congregational and Presbyterian American missionaries in Hawai‘i during the early 19th century, and assigns to letters sounds virtually identical to those of their English equivalents. It also involves the use of the ‘okina character to indicate a glottal stop, and the macron accent over long vowels (called kahakô in Hawaiian). Just as some knowledge of the orthography is needed to correctly pronounce Hawaiian words and names, omission of these marks obscures correct pronunciation of Hawaiian place names, and often their literal meanings. For example, compare lanai (stiff-necked), lânai (veranda), and Lâna‘i (the island).

A third language had developed over the course of Hawaiian history and is today in common use throughout the state. Originally considered a mere dialect, cultural anthropologists have recently reached consensus that Hawaiian Pidgin is a language of its own. It finds its origins in the sugarcane and pineapple plantations as laborers from different cultures were forced to find their own way of understanding each other. Hawaiian Pidgin is a spoken language primarily based on English and includes words from Chinese, Hawaiian, Japanese, and Portuguese.


Naming conventions: "Hawaii" and "Hawai‘i"

The issue of the exact spellings of Hawaii and Hawai‘i and how they are applied has proven to be a divisive political issue. The issue is over the inclusion or exclusion of the ‘okina.

When Hawaii became a political unit of the United States, U.S. Congress adopted the spelling Hawaii, without the ‘okina. This is still the official name of Hawaii as a political entity under American sovereignity. For the purposes of interpolitical relations outside the State of Hawaii, the American congressional spelling is properly used.

However, in local Hawaiian society, the spelling and pronunciation of Hawai‘i is preferred in nearly all cases, even for English language speakers, and is considered the most correct name for Hawai‘i as a place. Even the Government of Hawaii prefers this spelling for the names of its departments and offices. The convention to include the ‘okina is so widespread in Hawai‘i that it is used even in publications whose titles include the spelling Hawaii without the ‘okina.

These delicate nuances are often not obvious or well-appreciated outside Hawai‘i. This issue can be 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.


Hawaiian history can be divided into the following episodes: ancient Hawai‘i under the rule of local chiefdoms; consolidation and establishment of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i; overthrow of the monarchy by the Provisional Government of Hawai‘i, followed by governance as the Republic of Hawai‘i; from 1898 to 1959, governance as the Territory of Hawai‘i; Hawai‘i becomes the State of Hawaii of the United States in 1959.


Hawaiian Antiquity

Anthropologists believe that the Hawaiian Islands were first populated by Polynesians from the Marquesas and Society Islands approximately 1500 years ago. Memories of the early migrations were preserved orally through genealogies and folk tales, like the stories of Hawai‘iloa and Pa‘ao. Relations with other Polynesian groups were sporadic during the early migratory periods and Hawai‘i grew from small settlements to a complex society in near isolation. Local chiefs called ali‘i 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 Hawai‘i was visited by foreigners well before the 1778 arrival of British explorer Captain James Cook. Cook was credited for the discovery after having been 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

After a series of battles that ended in 1795 and peaceful cession of the island of Kaua‘i 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. That year, bachelor King Kamehameha V had died without having named a formal heir. After the election and death of King Lunalilo, governance was passed on to the House of Kalakaua. However, the power of the monarchy was made impotent with the promulgation of the Bayonet Constitution, stripping the king of his administrative authorities and depriving the rights of native Hawaiians in elections. The dynasty of King Kalakaua reigned until the overthrow of the kingdom in 1893, a coup d'état 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.


Hawaiian Territory
The Newlands Resolution was passed on July 7, 1898 formally annexing Hawai‘i as a United States territory. In 1900, it was granted self-governance. Though several attempts were made to achieve statehood, Hawai‘i remained as a territory for sixty years. Plantation owners like those that comprised the Big Five found territorial status convenient, granting them the ability to continue importing cheap foreign labor; such immigration was prohibited in various other states of the Union. The power of 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 and expected full voting rights. They campaigned for statehood for the Hawaiian Islands. On March 18, 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Admission Act which made Hawai‘i the 50th state of the Union, a law that became effective on August 21, 1959.


Hawaiian Statehood

Upon achieving statehood, Hawai‘i was accelerated through modernization with a construction boom and burgeoning economy. The Hawai‘i Republican Party supported by the plantation owners was voted out of office and the Hawai‘i Democratic Party dominated state politics for forty years. The state also worked its way to achieving a restoration of the native Hawaiian culture that was suppressed after the overthrow. The Hawai‘i 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, as well as having promoted native control over Hawaiian issues with the creation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Prevalent in post-statehood Hawai‘i was an increase in combative attitudes by some native Hawaiians towards the federal government, 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.


Geology and geography
The State of Hawaii is spread over 19 major islands and atolls in the central Pacific. The state government also includes minor offshore islands and individual islets in each atoll in its count of 137 islands; this number is often quoted in visitor literature. The inhabited islands are those from the Big Island of Hawai‘i to Ni‘ihau, but the island chain extends another 1000 miles (1600 km) to the northwest.

Each island at one time had volcanic activity. The current volcanic activity is on the Island of Hawai‘i (in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park).

The main Hawaiian Islands and the counties of the state are shown on the map to the right. The larger islands are listed below.

  • Hawai‘i
  • Maui
  • Kaho‘olawe
  • Lâna‘i
  • Moloka‘i
  • O‘ahu
  • Kaua‘i
  • Ni‘ihau


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 Hawai‘i, there are three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch is led by the state governor who oversees the major agencies and departments. The legislative body consists of the 25-member Hawai‘i State Senate and the 51-member Hawai‘i State House of Representatives. The judicial branch is led by the highest state court, the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court. Lower courts are organized as the Hawai‘i State Judiciary. Unique to Hawai‘i is the way it has organized its municipal governments. There are no incorporated cities in Hawai‘i except the City & County of Honolulu. The only other municipal governments are administered at the county level.

  • Governor of Hawai‘i is Linda Lingle (Republican)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Hawai‘i is James Aiona (Republican)
  • Senior United States Senator is Daniel K. Inouye (Democrat)
  • Junior United States Senator is Daniel K. Akaka (Democrat)
  • First District Congressman is Neil Abercrombie (Democrat)
  • Second District Congressman is Ed Case (Democrat)



The total gross output for the state in 1999 was USD $41 billion, placing Hawaii 40th compared to the other states. Per capita income for Hawaii residents was USD $28,221.

Historically, Hawaii is known for having a high amount of state taxes per capita. In 2002 and 2003, it had the highest amount of state taxes per capita, with $2,757 and $2,838 in state taxes per capita respectively. This can partly be explained by the fact that some services such as education, health care, and social services, are rendered at the state level, as opposed to the local level as in many states. Also, hundreds of thousands of tourists contribute to the figure by paying Hawaii's general excise and hotel room taxes. However, many business leaders in the state still consider Hawaii's tax burden to be too high.

Historically, the history of modern Hawaii can be traced through a succession of dominating industries: sandalwood, whaling, sugarcane, pineapple, military, tourism and education. Tourism is currently the state's largest industry while efforts are being made toward the diversification of the economy. Industrial exports include food processing and apparel. However, because of the considerable shipping distance to markets on the West Coast United States or Japan, they play a small role in the island 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 Hawai‘i Agricultural Statistics Service) were USD $370.9 million from diversified agriculture, USD $100.6 million from pineapple, and USD $64.3 million from sugarcane.


List of important cities and towns

  • Honolulu
  • Hilo
  • Lîhu‘e
  • Wailuku


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

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 who jumped off of trading ships 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, begining 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 O‘ahu. Other populous cities include Hilo, Kâne‘ohe, Kailua, Pearl City, Kahului, and Kailua-Kona.



Hawaii is currently the only state in the union with a unified school system statewide. (Similarly, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico also has a commonwealth-wide system.) 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 O‘ahu 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 O‘ahu 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.


Colleges and universities

The following are some of the most notable, colleges and universities in Hawai‘i. Wikipedia's list of colleges and universities in Hawai‘i is more comprehensive.

  • Brigham Young University of Hawai‘i
  • Chaminade University of Honolulu
  • Hawai‘i Pacific University
  • University of the Nations at Kona
  • University of Hawai‘i System
  • University of Hawai‘i at Hilo
  • University of Hawai‘i at Manoa
  • University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu



Two major competing Honolulu-based newspapers serve all of Hawai‘i. 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 Hawai‘i business community is served by the Pacific Business News and Hawai‘i Business Magazine. 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.



All the major television networks are represented in Hawai‘i through KFVE (WB affiliate), KGMB (CBS affiliate), KHET (PBS affiliate), KHNL (NBC affiliate), KHON (FOX affiliate) and KITV (ABC affiliate), among others. From Honolulu, programming at these stations are rebroadcast to the various other islands via networks of satellite transmitters. The various production companies that work with the major networks have produced television series and other projects in Hawai‘i. Most notable were police dramas like Magnum P.I. and Hawaii Five-O. A comprehensive list of such projects can be seen at the list of Hawai‘i television series.



Hawai‘i has a growing film industry administered by the state through the Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i or were inspired by Hawai‘i include: Jurassic Park, Waterworld, From Here to Eternity, George of the Jungle, 50 First Dates, Pearl Harbor, Blue Crush and Lilo & Stitch. A comprehensive list of such projects can be seen at the list of Hawai‘i films.

Films made in Hawaii for Hawaii audiences are still few. One of the most notable is Beyond Paradise (1998), a coming-of-age story set in Kona.


Miscellaneous information

  • Hawaii, being one of the United States, is included in the North American Numbering Plan; its area code within that plan is 808. It is also one of only three U.S. states that do not observe Daylight Saving Time, and the only one of those three that does not use DST anywhere in its territory.
  • ‘Iolani Palace, the only royal residence in the United States, was once the home of King Kalâkaua and Queen Lili‘uokalani, the last monarchs of Hawai‘i. It is open to visitors.
    Hawai‘i is the only U.S. state without a state police force.
  • Hawai‘i is home to two of the largest independent schools in the United States: Punahou School and the Kamehameha Schools.
  • Pele is the well-known goddess of Hawaiian volcanoes. Local legends and ghost stories often revolve around her visits, as well as sightings of Menehune and Nightmarchers.
  • Local directions in Hawai‘i are not expressed in terms of compass points (i.e., north-south-east-west) but by a radial system that uses local landmarks. For example, mauka means inland (literally, "towards the mountain"), while makai means the opposite ("towards the sea"). In Honolulu "Diamond Head" is equivalent to "east," because that's the main landmark on the coast east of downtown Honolulu, and "‘Ewa" is equivalent to "west," because that place is on the coast west of Honolulu. So instead of saying something was on the north-west corner of an intersection in Honolulu, it might be described as the "mauka and ‘ewa" corner of that intersection.
  • Hawai‘i is home to a number of endemic plant and animal species that are vulnerable to outside threats. Among the rarest is the Po‘ouli, a Hawaiian honeycreeper with only three surviving members, all of which live on the island of Maui.
  • Hawai‘i is known for its many people of multiracial and multiethnic heritage, or hapa ancestry.
  • Mount Wai‘ale‘ale (rippling waters), Kaua‘i is the wettest spot on earth, averaging 460 inches of rain a year.
  • Hawaii (Hawai‘i) has an array of colorful beaches, with sand colors of white, black, red, grey, brown-black and green.
  • Famous Crimes and superstitions Diane Suzuki, Morgan's Corner, Seven Bridges of Manoa, The Kahala Graveyard

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