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(In Detail) (Full size)
State nickname: The Aloha State

Other U.S. States
Capital Honolulu
Largest City Honolulu
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water
 - % water
Ranked 43rd
28,337 km²
16,649 km²
11,672 km²
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 42nd
Admittance into Union
 - Order
 - Date

August 21, 1959
Time zone Hawaii: UTC-10/ (no daylight savings time)
16°55'N to 23°N
154°40'W to 162°W


2450 km
4,205 meters
925 meters
0 meters
ISO 3166-2:US-HI

Hawaii (Hawai'i in Hawaiian spelling), is an archipelago of islands (the Hawaiian Islands) in the North Pacific Ocean, constituting the most recent (50th) U.S. state. Hawaii is the only island state and the southernmost of all the U.S. states. It was admitted to the union on August 21, 1959. As of the 2000 Census, the population of Hawaii was 1,211,537.

Honolulu is the state capital.

The state motto is ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono ("the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness"). The state flag combines elements of the Union Jack, French tricolor, and United States flag in recognition of the great powers in the Pacific at the time of the consolidation of the Hawaiian monarchy. The state song is Hawai'i pono'i.

Hawaii has two official languages, English and Hawaiian. Although one will just as often see place names spelled in English as in Hawaiian, within the State the idea that correct Hawaiian spelling should be used has gained widespread support in the last decade or so. Because the written Hawaiian language was developed by U.S. missionaries in the early part of the 19th century, the spelling of Hawaiian words and their English equivalents are virtually identical, with the exception that Hawaiian uses two diacritical marks (the 'okina and kahakō; see Hawaiian language). Just as some knowledge of pronunciation is needed to correctly pronounce Hawaiian place names, these marks are necessary to establish both correct pronunciation and meaning of Hawaiian place names.

The state flower is the yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei or ma'o hau hele) and the state bird is the nene (Hawaiian goose). The state fish is the humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Picasso trigger). USS Hawaii was named in honor of this state.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geology and Geography
3 Law and Government
4 Economy
5 Demographics
6 Education
7 Famous People From Hawaii
8 Miscellaneous Information
9 External Links


Discovery and Settlement

The islands were first settled by
Polynesians, probably from the Marquesas, sometime between 200 and 600 AD. It is possible that Spanish explorers arrived shortly after 1527: Juan Gaetano, a Spanish navigator, may have visited in 1555. However, on January 18, 1778 Captain James Cook and his crew were surprised to find high islands as far north in the Pacific as these islands, and named them then the Sandwich Islands for the fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montague.

Hawai'i was united under a single ruler, Kamehameha I, for the first time in 1795. The Great Mahele (land division) was signed in Hawaii on March 7, 1848 and on March 18, 1874 Hawaii signed a treaty with the United States granting Americans exclusive trading rights.

Overthrow and Annexation

Up to the 1890s, the Kingdom of Hawai'i was independent and had been recognized by the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany with exchange of ambassadors.

The Hawaiian monarchy lasted until 1893, when the monarch, Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii, under pressure, gave up her throne to a Committee of Safety, made up of American and European sugar farmers, who owned many of the plantations and controlled much of the business.

On January 14, 1893, a group of non-Hawaiian residents, including the United States Minister assigned to the Kingdom of Hawaii, John L. Stevens, conspired to overthrow the government of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Minister Stevens, without the authority of the U.S. government or Congress, summoned a company of uniformed U.S. Marines and two companies of U.S. sailors to land on the Kingdom and take up positions near the Iolani Palace to intimidate Queen Liliuokalani and the government.

A provisional government was set up without the consent of the Hawaiian people or the government, but the Queen yielded authority on January 17, 1893, with a statement pleading for justice:

"I Liliuokalani, by the Grace of God and under the Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the Constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom.

"That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America whose Minister Plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the Provisional Government.

"Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.".

An investigation established by President Grover Cleveland was conducted by former Congressman James Blount, and concluded, "United States diplomatic and military representatives had abused their authority and were responsible for the change in government." Minister Stevens was recalled, and the military commander of forces in Hawaii was forced to resign his commission. President Cleveland declared, "substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair" the monarchy. However, the provisional government in Hawaii successfully defended its position, and existed as the short-lived Republic of Hawai'i under the presidency of Sanford Dole.

In 1896, William McKinley replaced Cleveland as president. Two years later, he signed the Newlands Joint Resolution which provided for the official annexation of Hawaii on July 7, 1898 and the islands officially became a United States territory on February 22, 1900. The territorial legislature convened for the first time on February 20, 1901. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill on March 18, 1959 which allowed for Hawaiian statehood.

The manner in which Hawai'i became U.S. possession has been a bitter part of its history. In January of 1993, a Joint Resolution [PL 103-150] was passed by the United States Congress apologizing for participation in the illegal overthrow. The long-sought resolution was championed by United States senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka of Hawai'i. In 1999, the United Nations declared that the plebiscite vote that led to Hawai'i's statehood was in violation of article 73 of the United Nations' charter.

An attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 by the Empire of Japan was a trigger for the United States' entry into World War II.

Geology and Geography

''Main article: Hawaiian Islands

In grey: County name ~ Within parenthesis in blue: Individual island name

The State of Hawai'i is spread over 19 islands and atolls in the central Pacific. The inhabited islands are those from the Big Island to Ni'ihau (see map), but the island chain extends another 1000 miles to the northwest.

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

Law and Government

The Hawai'i state government is modeled after that of the U.S. federal government. It has three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch is headed by the Governor of the state, and all state agencies belong to this branch. The legislative body consists of the 25-member Senate and the 51-member House of Representatives. The highest state court is the Hawai'i Supreme Court.

The current Governor of the state is Linda Lingle (Republican). The U.S. senators are Daniel K. Akaka (Democrat) and Daniel K. Inouye (Democrat).


The total gross output for the state in 1999 was $41 billion placing Hawai'i 40th compared to the other states. The Per Capita Income for Hawaiian residents was $28,221. Tourism is now the state's largest industry. Industrial product outputs are minimal because of the considerable shipping distance to markets on the U.S West Coast or Japan, but would include food processing and apparel. The main agricultural outputs are nursey stock and flowers, coffee, macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, and sugar cane. Agricultural sales for 2002 (according to Hawai'i Agricultural Statistics Service) were $370.9 M from diversified agriculture, $100.6 M from pineapple, and $64.3 M from sugarcane.


The population of 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, 41.6% of Hawai'i's population identifies themselves as Asian, and 9.4% are Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. 21.4% describe themselves as mixed (two or more races). A large proportion of Hawai'i's population is of Asian (especially Japanese) descent, from those early immigrants who came to the islands in the nineteenth century to work on sugar plantations. The first Japanese arrived in Hawaii on February 9, 1885.

The largest city is the capital, Honolulu, located on O'ahu. Other populous cities include Hilo, Kāne'ohe, Kailua, Pearl City, and Kahului.


Hawai'i is currently the only state in the union with a statewide unified school system. Policy decisions are made by the eleven-member state Board of Education. The Board of Education sets statewide educational policy and hires the state superintendent of schools, which 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 other, more rural main islands. However, policy initiatives have been made in recent years to move more decision-making power to the school level, and current Governor Linda Lingle is a proponent of decentralization, replacing the current Board with seven elected district boards. This discussion is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Colleges and Universities

  • Brigham Young University Hawaii
  • Chaminade University
  • Hawaii Pacific University
  • University of the Nations

Famous People From Hawaii

Miscellaneous Information

Hawai'i, being one of the United States, is included in the North American Numbering Plan. Its area code within that plan is 808.

Hawai'i Standard Time is UTC-10. Hawai'i does not observe a Daylight Saving Time.

Hawaii has been the setting for many television shows including Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I

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.

See also: Hawaiian alphabet; Music of Hawaii; Tourism in Hawaii.

External Links