ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Unknown. The name may stem from Hawaii Loa, traditional discoverer of the islands, or from Hawaiki, the traditional Polynesian homeland.
NICKNAME: The Aloha State.
ENTERED UNION: 21 August 1959 (50th).
SONG: "Hawaii Ponoi."
MOTTO: Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness).
COAT OF ARMS: The heraldic shield of the Hawaiian kingdom is flanked by the figures of Kamehameha I, who united the islands, and Liberty, holding the Hawaiian flag. Below the shield is a phoenix surrounded by taro leaves, banana foliage, and sprays of maidenhair fern.
FLAG: Eight horizontal stripes, alternately white, red, and blue, represent the major islands, with the British Union Jack (reflecting the years that the islands were under British protection) in the upper left-hand corner.
OFFICIAL SEAL: Same as coat of arms, with the words "State of Hawaii 1959" above and the state motto below.
BIRD: Nene (Hawaiian goose).
FLOWER: Pua aloalo (yellow hibiscus).
TREE: Kukui (candlenut tree).
LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. 3rd Monday in January; Presidents' Day, 3rd Monday in February; Kuhio Day, 26 March; Good Friday and Easter, March or April; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Kamehameha Day, 11 June; Independence Day, 4 July; Statehood Day, 3rd Friday in August; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Election Day, 1st Tuesday after 1st Monday in November; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December.
TIME: 2 AM Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time = noon GMT.
LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
The state of Hawaii is an island group situated in the northern Pacific Ocean, about 2,400 mi (3,900 km) wsw of San Francisco. The smallest of the five Pacific states, Hawaii ranks 47th in size among the 50 states.
The 132 Hawaiian Islands have a total area of 6,470 sq mi (16,758 sq km), including 6,425 sq mi (16,641 sq km) of land and only 45 sq mi (117 sq km) of inland water. The island chain extends over 1,576 mi (2,536 km) n-s and 1,425 mi (2,293 km) e-w. The largest island, Hawaii (known locally as the "Big Island"), extends 76 mi (122 km) e-w and 93 mi (150 km) n-s; Oahu, the most populous island, extends 44 mi (71 km) e-w and 30 mi (48 km) n-s.
The eight largest islands of the Hawaiian group are Hawaii (4,035 sq mi/10,451 sq km), Maui (734 sq mi/1,901 sq km), Oahu (617 sq mi/1,598 sq km), Kauai (558 sq mi/1,445 sq km), Molokai (264 sq mi/684 sq km), Lanai (141 sq mi/365 sq km), Niihau (73 sq mi/189 sq km), and Kahoolawe (45 sq mi/117 sq km). The general coastline of the island chain is 750 mi (1,207 km); the tidal shoreline totals 1,052 mi (1,693 km). The state's geographic center is off Maui, at 20 ° 15 ′ n, 156 ° 20 ′ w.
The 8 major and 124 minor islands that make up the state of Hawaii were formed by volcanic eruptions. Mauna Loa, on the island of Hawaii, is the world's largest active volcano, at a height of 13,675 ft (4,168 m). Kilauea, on the eastern slope of Mauna Loa, is the world's largest active volcanic crater: Beginning on 24 May 1969, it spewed forth 242 million cu yd (185 million cu m) of lava, spreading over an area of 19.3 sq mi (50 sq km). The longest volcanic eruption in Hawaii lasted 867 days. Further indications of Hawaii's continuing geological activity are the 14 earthquakes, each with a magnitude of 5 or more on the Richter scale, that shook the islands from 1969 to 1979; one quake, at Puna, on Hawaii in 1975, reached a magnitude of 7.2.
Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, and Molokai are the most mountainous islands. The highest peak in the state is Puu Wekiu (13,796 ft/4,208 m), on Hawaii; the largest natural lake, Halulu (182 acres/74 hectares), Niihau; the largest artificial lake, Waiia Reservoir (422 acres/171 hectares), Kauai; and the longest rivers, Kaukonahua Stream (33 mi/53 km) in the north on Oahu and Wailuku River (32 mi/51 km) on Hawaii. While much of the Pacific Ocean surrounding the state is up to 20,000 ft (6,100 m) deep, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, and Maui stand on a submarine bank at a depth of less than 2,400 ft (730 m). The lowest point of the state is sea level at the Pacific Ocean. The mean elevation is approximately 3,030 ft (924 m).
Hawaii has a tropical climate cooled by trade winds. Normal daily temperatures in Honolulu average 73 ° f (22 ° c) in February and 81 ° f (27 ° c) in August; the average wind speed is a breezy 11.3 mph (18.2 km/h). The record high for the state is 100 ° f (38 ° c), set at Pahala on 27 April 1931, and the record low is 12 ° f ( − 11 ° c), set at Mauna Kea Observatory on 17 May 1979.
Rainfall is extremely variable, with far more precipitation on the windward (northeastern) than on the leeward side of the islands. Mt. Waialeale, Kauai, is reputedly the rainiest place on earth, with a mean annual total of 486 in (1,234 cm). Kukui, Maui, holds the US record for the most precipitation in one year — 739 in (1,878 cm) in 1982. Average annual precipitation in Honolulu (1971 – 2000) was 18.3 in (46.5 cm). In the driest areas — on upper mountain slopes and in island interiors, as in central Maui — the average annual rainfall is less than 10 in (25 cm). Snow falls at the summits of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Haleakala — the highest mountains. The highest tidal wave (tsunami) in the state's history reached 56 ft (17 m).
FLORA AND FAUNA
Formed over many centuries by volcanic activity, Hawaii's topography — and therefore its flora and fauna — have been subject to constant and rapid change. Relatively few indigenous trees remain; most of the exotic trees and fruit plants have been introduced since the early 19th century. Of the 2,200 species and subspecies of flora, more than half are
endangered, threatened, or extinct.
The only land mammal native to the islands is the Hawaiian hoary bat, now endangered; there are no indigenous snakes. In April 2006, a total of 317 species occurring within the state were on the threatened and endangered species list of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These included 44 animal (vertebrates and invertebrates) and 273 plant species. The endangered humpback whale migrates to Hawaiian waters in winter; other marine animals abound. Four species of sea turtle are also endangered. Among threatened birds are several varieties of honeycreeper, short-tailed albatross, Hawaiian coot, and the Hawaiian goose (nene). The nene (the state bird), once close to extinction, now numbers in the hundreds and is on the increase. The Kawainui and Hamakua Marsh Complex, a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, provides a habitat for at least four of the states endangered bird species, including the nene.
Animals considered endangered by the state but not on the federal list include the Hawaiian storm petrel, Hawaiian owl, Maui 'amakihi (Loxops virens wilsoni). and 'I'iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) .
Environmental protection responsibilities are vested in the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and in the Environmental Management Division of the Department of Health. The Hawaii Environmental Policy Act of 1974 established environmental policies and guidelines for state agencies. Also enacted in 1974 was the Environmental Impact Statement Law, which mandated environmental assessments for all state and county projects and some private projects. Noise pollution requirements for the state are among the strictest in the United States, and air and water purity levels are well within federal standards.
Since much of Hawaii's natural wetlands have been filled in for use as agricultural lands or for urban expansion projects, wetlands now cover less than 3% of the state. The Kawainui and Hamakua Marsh Complex was designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in February 2005. Besides serving as a habitat for at least four species of endangered birds, the site is considered to be a cultural and archeological resource, one that is sacred to some native Hawaiians. In January 2006, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources received a federal Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant of $646,250 for restoration projects in marsh. In 2005, federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants awarded to the state included $323,930 for a beach water quality monitoring and public notification program.
The EPA banned the use of ethylene dibromide (EDB), a pesticide used in the state's pineapple fields, after high levels of the chemical were found in wells on the island of Oahu in 1983. In 2003, 3.1 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. In 2003, the US EPA's database listed 87 hazardous waste sites in Hawaii, three of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including the Del Monte Corp. Oahu Plantation, the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area, and the Pearl Harbor Naval Complex. In 2005, the EPA spent over $41,000 through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state.
Hawaii ranked 42nd in population in the United States with an estimated total of 1,275,194 in 2005, an increase of 5.3% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Hawaii's population grew from 1,108,229 to 1,211,537, an increase of 9.3%. The population is projected to reach 1.38 million by 2015 and 1.43 million by 2025. Almost four-fifths of the population lives on Oahu, primarily in the Greater Honolulu metropolitan area. Population density was 196.6 people per sq mi in 2004.
In 2004, the median age was 38. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 23.7% of the population, while 13.6% of the population was age 65 or older.
By far the largest city is Honolulu, with an estimated 2004 population of 377,260. The Greater Honolulu metropolitan area had an estimated 899,593 residents in 1999. The city of Honolulu is coextensive with Honolulu County.
Hawaii has the nation's highest percentage of Asian residents — 41.6% in 2000, when its Asian population numbered 503,868. In 2004, 41.8% of the population was Asian. In 2000, Pacific Islanders numbered 113,539 (including 80,137 native Hawaiians), 22,003 were black, and 3,535 were American Indians or Alaska Natives. About 87,699, or 7.2% of the total population, were Hispanic or Latino in 2000. Foreign-born residents numbered 212,229 in 2000, or 17.5% of the total state population — the fifth-highest percentage of foreign born among the 50 states. In 2004, 9.1% of the population was Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 2.2% was black, 0.3% was American Indian or Alaska Native, and 7.9% was of Hispanic or Latino origin. A full 20.1% of the population reported origin of two or more races.
Of Hawaii's Asian residents in 2000, 201,764 were Japanese, 170,635 were Filipino, 56,600 were Chinese, and 23,637 were Korean. The earliest Asian immigrants, the Chinese, were superseded in number in 1900 by the Japanese, who have since become a significant factor in state politics. The influx of Filipinos and other Pacific Island peoples was largely a 20th-century phenomenon. In recent decades, ethnic Hawaiians have been increasingly intent on preserving their cultural identity.
Although massive immigration from Asia and the US mainland since the mid-19th century has effectively diluted the native population, the Hawaiian lexical legacy in English is conspicuous. Newcomers soon add to their vocabulary the words aloha (love, good-bye), haole (white foreigner), malihini (newcomer), lanai (porch), tapa (bark cloth), mahimahi (a kind of fish), ukulele, muumuu. and the common directional terms mauka (toward the mountains) and makai (toward the sea), customarily used instead of "north," "east," "west," and "south." Native place-names are numerous — Waikiki, Hawaii, Honolulu, Mauna Kea, and Molokai, for example.
Most native-born residents of Hawaiian ancestry speak one of several varieties of Hawaiian pidgin, a lingua franca incorporating elements of Hawaiian, English, and other Asian and Pacific languages. In 2000, 73.4% (down from 75.2% in 1990) of Hawaiians five years old or older spoke only English at home.
The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other Pacific Island languages" includes Chamorro, Hawaiian, Ilocano, Indonesian, and Samoan. The category "Other Indo-European languages" includes Albanian, Gaelic, Lithuanian, and Rumanian.