Hawaii: The Aloha State

Hawaii is a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean and the name of the 50th state of the United States of America. The archipelago is part of the Polynesian sub-region and the northern tip of the so-called “Polynesian triangle.” Hawaii’s nickname is the Aloha State. Hawaii is located approximately 4,000 km (2,500 miles) off the American mainland. Hawaii is made up of a total of 137 islands with an area of 16,634 square kilometers (6, 422 square miles), most of them are, however, uninhabited. The eight largest islands (from West to East) are Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lānai, Kahoolawe, Maui and Hawaii, the biggest island, also called Big Island. The Hawaii islands have a population of approximately 1.2 million. The capital and the biggest city at the same time is Honolulu with a population of approx. 390,000.

Hawaii has beaches in all possible colors, ranging from a bright white over honey colored to black and even green. Water temperatures between 22°C (72°F) in winter and 28°C (82°F) in summer mean it is never too cold to go swimming. Kilauea – the most active volcano in the world – is on Hawaii. It is an amazing sight to see the bright red lava flowing into the ocean at night. Every year, thousands of tons of lava erupt from the volcano in the southeast of Big Island.

Since Hawaii is the most remote archipelago worldwide, no mammals existed on the land before humans got there (only exception: bats). Also missing were reptiles that live on land, amphibians and freshwater animals. The indigenous peoples of Hawaii arrived in Ka Lae, the South Point of Hawaii’s Big Island, and developed their civilization over a thousand years before coming into contact with the western world. After that, Hawaii became an important port for traders and whalers from all over the world. The people coming to Hawaii between the second and sixth century were probably Polynesians of the Marquesas islands. A second wave of Polynesian settlers came from Tahiti in the 11th century. The seafarers could travel the enormous distance of 5,000 km (3000 miles) from Marquesas with great canoes and skilled navigation.

The Chinese were the first big group of immigrants coming to Hawaii, followed by the Japanese, the Portuguese, the Filipinos, the Samoans, the people from Okinawa, the Koreans, and the Puerto Ricans who were drawn there by the prospect of working in the sugar cane fields. The famous “golden people” of Hawaii were the result of the mixing of Polynesian indigenous peoples and Asian immigrants.

Hawaii only became a state in 1959

Kamehameha I united the Hawaiian islands by force. From 1810 he ruled all islands and ths was the first King of Hawaii. His Kamehameha dynasty reigned until 1872, after that, three more elected kings followed. On December 19, 1842, the US recognized Hawaii’s independence. Their influence, however, kept growing since 1850. In 1875 a treaty was signed, allowing the duty-free import of sugar from Hawaii into the US. In 1887 the treaty was expanded to allow the US to set up the Pearl Harbor naval base. When Queen Liliuokalani wanted to push back the United States’ influence on Hawaii, she was dethroned in 1893 in a coup by plantation owners, supported by the US. The Republic of Hawaii was established in 1894. The Republic, however, didn’t survive for very long. Due to its strategic importance the official annexation of Hawaii by the US took place during the Spanish-American War with a joint resolution by the Senate and the House of Representatives on July 7, 1898. After a referendum, Hawaii became the 50th state of the US on August 21, 1959.

Real GDP per capita was $38,083 in 2006 (national average of all 50 states: $37, 714), number 16 in the national ranking.