Hawaii Geography, Population, Business and History

Hawaii, abbreviated Ha. or HI, is the 50th state of the United States, often called “The Aloha State”. It encompasses the Hawaiian Islands archipelago of the North Pacific, just south of the Northern (Crabs) turnaround, approximately 4,000 miles southwest of California. Hawaii consists of eight islands that extend 650 kilometers in the southeast – northwest direction, as well as nine small islands and atolls that extend an additional 2,000 kilometers to the northwest.

Hawaii has a total area of ​​approximately 28,300 square miles (number 43 of the United States), and has 1,427,538 residents (U.S. Census, 2017). Hawaii was listed as the No. 50 state in the United States on August 21, 1959. The capital is Honolulu, and is the state’s largest city with 350,395 residents in the city itself and 988,650 residents in the metropolitan area (US Census, 2017). The state sends 2 senators and 2 representatives to Congress.

Hawaii is the northernmost outskirts of Polynesia. The largest island is Hawaii, which together makes up 63 percent of the state’s land (commonly called the Big Island, 10,458 square miles). Other major islands are Maui (1888 square miles), Oahu (1574 square miles), Kauai (1433 square miles), Molokai (676 square miles), Lanai (361 square miles), Niihau (189 square miles) and Kahoolawe (117 square miles) The northwest islands comprise a total of only 8 square kilometers. The Midway Islands (5 square miles) also belong to the Hawaiian Islands, but are politically not part of the state.

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All the islands are of volcanic origin. The long range of islands is formed by a, probably stationary, magma chamber, for over 30 million years, has pushed up volcanic material and formed new islands through new bursts in the Earth’s crust (the Pacific plate) as it moved northwest.

Active or dormant volcanoes are presently found only on the islands of Hawaii and Maui. The island of Hawaii is the geologically youngest of the Hawaiian Islands and is still under construction. The highest point is the extinct volcano Mauna Kea (4205 meters above sea level). Mauna Loa (4169 meters above sea level) is still active. On the eastern slope of Mauna Kea lies the world’s largest active volcanic crater Kilauea, which has had a more or less continuous eruption since 1983. Mauna Kea and Kilauea are both within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which is on UNESCO’s list of the world’s natural and cultural heritage. Maui had its last eruption in 1790. In the ocean south of Hawaii is a new volcano active, and it will probably form a new island sometime in the next 10,000 years.

The landscape of the island of Hawaii is relatively simply sloping down from the volcanoes. On Kauai, which is the geological oldest of the main islands, the weather has had time to form a varied terrain with deeply carved valleys.

The ten northwestern islands are almost completely eroded, and the furthest to the northwest (including the Midway Islands) are classic coral atolls.


The climate is pleasant maritime tropical. The average temperature in Honolulu is in the coldest months of the year (December – March) of 22.5 °C, in the warmest months (July – October) of 26 °C. The islands are most of the year under the influence of the northeast pass. The north- eastern slopes (shore side) therefore receive large amounts of rainfall, often more than 7500 millimeters per year, and the south-west slopes (shore side) very little, often less than 400 millimeters per year. Niihau, Lanai and Kahoolawe are located in the rain shadows of the larger islands. Mount Waialeale on Kauai is one of the world’s most rainy places, and Hilo in Hawaii is the most rainy city in the United States.


The population of Hawaii during the entire 1900s showed a solid increase both due to immigration and high natural growth. In 1900, the state had about 155,000 residents, in 1950 about 500,000 residents, in 1980 about 965,000 residents, in 2000 about 1,221,000 residents and in 2014 the population was about 1,420,000. Until 1970, Oahu accounted for almost the entire increase alone, since then it has also increased in several of the other islands. Between 1970 and 1992, the population of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai doubled.

In 2014, the settlement was distributed to the largest islands like this: about 70 percent on Oahu, about 13 percent in Hawaii, about 10 percent on Maui and about five percent on Kauai. Kahoolawe and the Northwest Islands are unpopulated (except for research staff). More than 90 percent of residents live in cities and towns, but the only two actual cities are the capital Honolulu on Oahu (about 400,000 residents in 2014) and Hilo (about 45,000 residents in 2014) on the island of Hawaii.

White (haoles) and Japanese-born each make up about 23 percent of the population, which is otherwise highly diverse and ethnically mixed, with Asians (about 25 percent) and Indigenous and other Pacific residents (about 10 percent) being the largest groups. Ethnic origin means little in the social way.

Indigenous people (Hawaiians) are descendants østpolynesiske people who immigrated from about 300 CE. It is estimated that the population in 1778, when James Cook came to the islands, speaking between 250 000 and 300 000. The main industries were agriculture, with taro as the main food crops, and fishing, partly from fish farms. The arrival of Europeans meant major changes in business structure and property conditions, and the majority of the population fell into poverty.

The population had no immunity to new diseases brought by Europeans – cholera, measles, plague and leprosy – and epidemics greatly reduced the population throughout the 19th century. In 1876 it was down to 53,900. Today, about 200,000 are considered Hawaiian, but the vast majority of these are of mixed origin. Indigenous language, which is Austronesian and closely related to Marquesan, Tongan and Maori, is now dominated by very few. Nevertheless, the Hawaiian cultural traditions stand strong. Several sovereignty movements have been formed to seek to redress some of the wrongs that the federal government has committed throughout history. Central to the requirements are the rights to land. Polls suggest that 75 percent of the population supports a “nation-within-nation” model based on what the United States indigenous people have achieved.


Because of long transport distances, the cost of living is 20 percent over the continent of the United States. The average salary, on the other hand, is nine percent lower. Unemployment in Hawaii was 2.1 percent in 2017/2018, making it the lowest in the United States (Best States, 2018).

Tourism is the island’s largest source of income. In total, about 6.7 million tourists visit Hawaii each year, the vast majority from the American mainland and then from Japan. Oahu has traditionally received the main emphasis of tourists, but in recent years the tourism industry has also expanded on Maui, Hawaii and Kauai. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the tourism industry contributed $ 1.8 billion in tax revenue to the state in 2016, an increase of $ 151 million from the previous year.

By the way, federal government spending is an important source of revenue. The military forces administer portions of the area, including 25 percent of Oahu, including Pearl Harbor and all Kahoolawe) and contributes with approximately three billion USD annually. In total, over 100,000 military personnel, including family members, reside on the islands.

Agriculture has been undergoing restructuring in recent decades. The large sugar cane plantations on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii and similarly large pineapple plantations on Oahu, Lanai, Molokai and Maui were considered unprofitable. These have been sought to be replaced by a wide variety of plants and tropical flowers, nuts (macadamia nuts), vegetables, fruits (papaya, bananas, oranges), coffee and seed. Meat production is run on large cattle farms in Hawaii, Maui and Niihau. Oahu represents most of the production of milk and eggs.

The islands have almost no commercially viable minerals. Oahu, especially Honolulu, is the most important industrial center with canned mills, sugar and oil refineries, shipyards, steel mills and cement production.

Transport and Communications

Honolulus International Airport is an important hub of air travel between America and Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Passenger traffic between the four main islands takes place exclusively by air. Only Oahu has a fully-fledged public communications network. Honolulu is the main port city for freight transport.


James Cook came to Hawaii in 1778 and named the islands the Sandwich Islands, in honor of the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. The Polynesian population was organized into a hierarchical social system of chieftains, priests and workers. King Kamehameha 1 (1782-1819) gathered the islands of one kingdom. After 1820, American and British missionaries began their ministry, and early Christianity was officially recognized as a religion.

In 1835, the first sugar plantations were started with American capital and native labor. The Hawaiians, however, were unwilling to use themselves in this foreign mode of production. In the 1850s, Chinese workers began to be introduced. From 1878 to 1890 a large number of Portuguese came from Madeira and the Azores. Nor did they fit in with the planters’ plans, because they agreed to acquire their own land or other business as soon as possible. This was more or less the case for other immigrants as well, and new labor had to be introduced. From the 1880s many Japanese immigrants, later also people from the Philippines, Korea and Puerto Rico.

From the mid-1800s, Hawaii also became politically an American sphere of interest, after British and French interests had long been in conflict, largely because of disputes between the various missionaries. A constitutional constitution, Western judicial system and modern industry, technology and way of life were introduced gradually. The native autonomy was retained after 1840. The Republic was introduced in 1894, but in 1898 the islands were annexed by the United States, and got its constitution as US territory in 1900.

Since 1900, Hawaii has undergone rapid economic and cultural development and has also gained great strategic importance for the United States. Japan’s surprising attack on Pearl Harbor fleet December 7, 1941, for a time put the US Pacific fleet out of service. After the damage was repaired, the islands played a significant role as an air and naval base during the Pacific War. On August 21, 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States.

Hawaii Population 2019

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