Hawaii: The Aloha State
Geography and Industry
Stretching over 1,000 miles from southeast to northwest in the central Pacific Ocean, the islands that make up the state of Hawaii were built up over centuries by volcanic activity on the ocean floor. There are still several active volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands today. These mountains include Haleakala on the island of Maui, and Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the island of Hawaii. The largest islands in the group are Hawaii, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Niihau, and Oahu.
The “big” island of Hawaii is both the largest and the “youngest” of the islands in the group. Oahu has the most people living there, and is the most popular tourist destination, with Waikiki Beach, and Waimea Bay drawing thousands of visitors per year.
Tourism is Hawaii's chief industry, although specialty foods sugar cane and pineapples are grown there in abundance. There is so much to do in Hawaii: for starters, there's skiing on the mountains of the Big Island, snorkeling along the many coral reefs that have sprung up around the islands, surfing, whale-watching off of Maui, and watching “cowboys” rounding up Hawaii's other big food export, cattle!
Another popular Hawaiian recreational activity is fishing. Whether it is surf fishing from the beach, or sport fishing out on the blue waters surrounding the islands, fishing is not just a recreational industry — for some people, it's a way of life. In fact, fish and fishing are so important in Hawaii that it's the only state to have its own official state fish!
All About Hawaii
LARGEST CITY: Honolulu
POPULATION: 1,211,537 (2000 Census)
STATE BIRD: Hawaiian Goose
STATE TREE: Candlenut
STATE FLOWER: Hibiscus
STATE MOTTO: “Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono (The Life of the Land Is Perpetuated in Righteousness)”
STATEHOOD: August 21, 1959
POSTAL ABBREVIATION: HI
Hawaii was first settled by Polynesian settlers from the South Pacific around a.d. 400 For over a thousand years afterward, the natives of the individual islands fought each other, Oahu against Kauai and so on.
The first Europeans to visit the islands were the crew of the British naval vessel the HMS Discovery, under the command of the famous explorer Captain James Cook, in 1778. Soon after Cook's expedition revealed Hawaii's existence to the outside world, American whalers began to visit Hawaii. They were followed by Christian missionaries in the early 1800s.
Pineapples — Not a Hawaiian Fruit?
Did you know that pineapples are not native to Hawaii? It's true! Pineapples evolved in the jungles of northeastern South America, in what is now Guyana. They were first imported to Hawaii in the late nineteenth century, and they quickly became a popular cash crop!
In 1810 King Kamehameha I (“kah-MAY-uh-MAY-uh”) united the islands and established the Kingdom of Hawaii. His family ruled the islands until 1872, when his grandson, King Kamehameha V, died. The royal family tried for decades to resist the influence of American missionaries and businessmen (who came to Hawaii to make money from the booming sugar trade), with little success.
In 1893 a bloodless revolution deposed Queen Liliuoka-lani(“li-LEE-uh-oh-kah-LAH-nee”), the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii. John L. Stephens, the American minister (ambassador) to Hawaii, was appointed the head of the new government, and declared Hawaii a U.S. protectorate (meaning that it became a protected territory of the United States).
Words to Know
Hawaii is the only state in the Union with an official state fish, and its name is bigger than it is! The fish is also known as a triggerfish. However, it is better known by its name in the Hawaiian language: humuhumu-nukunukuapuaa (“hooh-mooh-hooh-mooh-nooh-kooh-nooh-kooh-ah-pooh-ah-ah”).
Interestingly enough, American president Grover Cleveland refused to sign the order annexing Hawaii! He correctly believed that most native Hawaiians didn't support annexation, and he didn't want the United States to be a political bully.
The next U.S. president, William McKinley, supported American annexation of Hawaii, and he got his wish in 1898. Hawaii became a territory in 1900. Hawaii's fine port of Pearl Harbor became a major U.S. naval base over the next few decades. In fact, Pearl Harbor was so important to the U.S. military that when the Japanese decided to go to war with the United States in December of 1941, the first thing it did was bomb the harbor. The Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack against Pearl Harbor, sinking several of the battleships of the U.S. Pacific fleet and killing over 2,000 American civilians and military personnel.
Hawaii became the fiftieth state in 1959, less than eight months after Alaska became the forty-ninth state in January of that same year.