Explore the rich historical heritage, spectacular natural beauty, aloha spirit, and the unique things, people, and places you will find only in Hawaii.
The Formation of the Hawaiian Ridge
The State of Hawaii is a small portion of a much larger chain of islands. The eight major islands of the Hawaiian Island Archipelago, from east to west, include Hawaii Island which is often called the Big Island, Kaho'olawe, Kaua'i, Lana'i, Maui, Moloka'i, Ni'ihau, and O'ahu.
The Hawaiian Islands are the youngest islands in a large, mainly submarine, mountain chain composed of greater than 132 islands, 80 volcanoes, and an uncountable numbers of shoals and reefs. Formed from a hotspot in the earth’s core, currently located beneath the Big Island of Hawaii, the islands shift as the Pacific Plate slowly moves in a west-northwesterly direction. The Hawaiian Ridge or Hawaiian island chain stretches more than 1500 miles from Midway to the Big Island.
The newest of the Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island formed from the activity of five volcanoes: Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea. Kilauea and Mauna Loa are active volcanoes. About 15 miles off the southeast coastline of the Big Island, a new island is slowly emerging. Given the Hawaiian name Loihi, the growing island formation has risen two feet above the sea floor and is now less than a foot below the ocean’s surface. Scientists predict that in thirty to forty thousand years, a massive new island will occupy the space where the Big Island of Hawaii exists today.
Highlights of the History of the Aloha State
Known as the “Aloha State,” Hawaii joined the Union as the 50th state in 1959. However the rich historical heritage, myths, and magic of the scenic islands date back centuries earlier.
Approximately 1,500 years ago, brave Polynesian navigators set forth from the Marquesas Islands to explore the vastness of the surrounding seas. With faith and fortitude, the Polynesian sailors survived a 2,400-mile perilous journey to be the first people to migrate to the rugged island chain.
Having only the stars to guide their dangerous passage, these hardy souls navigated handcrafted wooden canoes, heavily laden with supplies, edible and medicinal plants, fowl, and domestic livestock, to discover a cluster of verdant, fertile islands; the true “Paradise Of The Pacific.”
Five hundred years later, a new wave of settlers from Tahiti arrived. The Tahitian settlers carried with them a deep-seated belief in a system of gods and demi-gods, imposing their beliefs on the populace.
For centuries, the Tahitians abided by a strict conduct code based on “kapu” or taboo. It was during this segment of history that the sport of surfing and the ancient art of hula emerged. Although the nutrient-rich volcanic soil and abundance of water made almost every area of every island spectacularly beautiful and supportive of cultivation, there still were violent land division conflicts between ruling chieftains.
When in 1778, Captain James Cook landed on the shores of Kauai at Waimea Bay, the English explorer named the archipelago the Sandwich Islands in honor of the Earl of Sandwich who had helped finance Cook’s ambitious voyage. Although Captain Cook introduced western influences in the island, he was brutally killed in a conflict with native Hawaiians just a year later at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii.
In 1791, King Kamehameha negotiated a fragile peace between the warring chieftains to unify all of the islands into one royal kingdom. By 1810, Kamehameha achieved his goal. Kamehameha ruled the islands until his death in 1818. By 1819, firmly establishing himself as his father’s successor, Liholiho, Kamehameha’s son, abolished the ancient kapu system.
The influence of Western civilizations was firmly imposed on the islands when the first missionaries arrived in 1820. The old rules of taboo and kapu placed with strict puritanical mandates, the established religious practices and social behavior of the Hawaiian people.
Hawaii became a frequent port of call for traders, seamen, and whalers. The whaling industry centered around the Port of Lahaina on the island of Maui. Through growth in trade and the arrival of imported goods, commerce on the Hawaiian Islands flourished.
However, newcomers to the islands brought with them a host of illnesses to which the Hawaiian had no natural immunity and western disease took a massive death toll on the local populace.
In 1893, motivated by ambition and greed, American Colonists, who held the controlling interest in Hawaii’s growing economy, overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in a non-violent, yet controversial power coup. In 1898, the Hawaiian Islands were acquired as a territory of the United States.
During the 20th century, pineapple, sugar, and coffee plantations dominated the Hawaii economy. A demand for field workers encouraged an influx of Portuguese, Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese laborers. This culturally rich mixture of immigrant ethnicities enriched and added to the diverse population that makes up Hawaii today.
On December 7, 1941, Japan instigated a surprise attack on the U.S. Fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor on Oahu. Following four years of fierce fighting and the loss of thousands of lives on both sides of the conflict, in 1944, Japan signed an unconditional surrender onboard the USS Battleship Missouri, which still lies at anchor in Pearl Harbor.
The Most Isolated Population Center on the Face of the Planet
The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated, inhabited pieces of land on the face of the earth. Situated 3800 miles from Japan, 2400 from the mainland of the United States, and 2400 miles from the Marquesas Islands, the Hawaiian Islands were some of the last inhabitable places in the world settled by man.
Strategically located in the center of the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian Islands have been a highly desired piece of real estate since Captain Cook first landed on their verdant shores in 1778. Since that time the Japanese, Russians, the British, and Americans have all had their eye on Hawaii.
Today, Hawaii hosts travelers from around the world in a global gathering of Aloha, encouraging visitors to explore the rich cultural history of the islands, the sand, surf, and spectacular scenery that add so much depth and richness to every island experience.
In the first half of 2018, more than five million travelers visited the islands. adding more than 8 billion dollars to the Hawaii economy. Once having experienced a “taste of paradise,” many of these visitors wish to relocate to the islands.
Only in Hawaii: Unique Island Geography - TripSavvy. https://www.tripsavvy.com/what-makes-hawaii-unique-1529999
On Which Continent Is Hawaii? | Reference.com. https://www.reference.com/geography/continent-hawaii-c918a4cbc73485ae
Hawaii Pacific University - SCORP. http://www.scorp.co/project/hawaii-pacific-university/
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