(Source: State of Hawai’i)
Hawai’i is a
string of 137 islands encompassing a land area of 6,423.4 square
miles in the north central Pacific Ocean. Geographic coordinates
for Honolulu are 21:18:25 North Latitude, 157:51:30 West
Longitude. The Hawaiian Islands have 750 total miles (1207 km)
Hawai’i is the
most geographically isolated population center on earth. It is
2,000 miles from the Marshall Islands, 2,390 miles from
California, 2,500 miles from Tahiti, 3,850 miles from Japan,
4,900 miles from China and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.
Island Age and
Stretching from northwest to southeast (and from oldest to
youngest), the major islands of Hawai’i are: Ni’ihau, Kaua’i,
O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaho’olawe, Maui and Hawai’i. Kaua’i is
estimated to be about 5 million years old; Hawai’i is less than
1 million years old. From largest to smallest the islands are
Hawai’i , Maui, O’ahu, Kaua’i, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Ni’ihau and
Lo’ihi, a new
island being formed 20 miles (32km) offshore of the Big Island
of Hawai’i, is about 3,000 feet (915m) below sea level and is
expected rise above the water in approximately 60,000 years.
volcano Mauna Kea (on the Big Island) can be considered the
tallest mountain in the world, if measured from its base in the
Hawaiian Trough (3,280 fathoms) to its summit (13,796 feet). In
total, it reaches a height of 33,476 feet.
Plants & Animals
More than 2,500
species of native plants and a large number of introduced plants
are found in the Hawaiian Islands, including many varieties of
shrubs, trees, grasses and flowering plants.
The only mammals
native to the Islands are the hoary bat, the Hawaiian monk seal,
and the Polynesian rat, and there are very few predators.
Hawai’i’s ecosystem supports a variety of bird and plant life,
but many species (such as the Hawaiian goose, or nene) are
largest mammals are the humpback whales that migrate to warm
Hawaiian waters every year to mate and calve. You can see them
from the shore or on a whale-watching cruise during the winter
months of December through April. These magnificent animals can
grow to be as big as a school bus.
marine animals in Hawai’i include the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, the
Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, and Hawai’i’s fragile coral reefs.
hosts some of the most exotic (and delicious) fish in the world.
More than 650 species of fish live in Hawaiian waters. Some of
the tastiest fish are various types of tuna (such as ‘ahi),
open-ocean selections such as mahimahi and ono, and bottomfish
such as onaga and ‘opakapaka.
The state’s two official languages are Hawaiian and English. The
melodious Hawaiian language is a Polynesian dialect and has only
12 letters in its alphabet: vowels a, e, i, o, u and consonants
h, k, l, m, n, p and w. Vowel pronunciation is as follows:
When a “w” is
immediately preceded by a vowel that begins a word (such as ‘Ewa),
it is pronounced as a “v.” A “w” can also sometimes be
pronounced as a “v” if it appears in the middle or toward the
end of a word (such as in ka’awa).
pronunciation in Hawaiian words, several diacritical marks are
used. The glottal stop (called an ‘okina) is written as an open
single quote mark ( ‘ ) and signifies a brief pause between
letters (such as in Ka’ahumanu). The macron (called a kahako) is
a solid line written over the top of a letter and signifies an
extended vowel sound (such as in Waikiki; the last two “i”s
would each be pronounced as “eee” instead of “ee”).
Science and Technology
Mauna Kea has 13 major astronomical facilities representing the
cooperation of 10 countries. The Subaru Telescope Facility
represents a new class of highly accurate, revolutionary
telescopes. The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii at Keahole
Point promotes ocean-related research, education and commercial
activities using deep-ocean water technology.
Hilo 71.2° F
Kailua-Kona 73.1° F
Mauna Kea Summit 31 to 43° F
131 inches at Hilo Airport
10 inches near Kawaihae (Kona Coast)
Main cities and towns (1990):
The island of Hawai’i is governed by the County of Hawai’i. The
county is operated by a mayor, a nine-member county council and
the county’s departments and agencies.
Important products are beef, Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, papaya
and tropical flowers such as orchids and anthuriums. Sugarcane
production ended in 1996. There are efforts to convert the use
of these lands to forestry and to expand diversified
The state flag has
eight stripes representing the Hawaiian archipelago’s major
islands: Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i,
Kaho’olawe and Hawai’i. The colors are red, white and blue. From
top to bottom on the flag the stripes are, in order, white, red,
blue, white, red, blue, white, red. The upper left corner
closely resembles the Union Jack of Great Britain. Designed for
King Kamehameha I in the early 1800s, this resemblance
symbolizes King Kamehameha’s friendship with the British.
“Ua mau ke ea o ka
‘aina i ka pono”
The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. King
Kamehameha III is said to have uttered these words on July 31,
1843, when the Hawaiian flag was once more raised after a brief
usurpation of authority by a British admiral.
The state seal has
a heraldic shield in the center, a figure of King Kamehameha I
on its right side and the Goddess of Liberty holding the
Hawaiian flag on the left side. Below the shield is the Phoenix
surrounded by taro leaves, banana foliage, and sprays of
maidenhair fern. With color added, the seal becomes the State
Coat of Arms.
goose; Branta sandvicensis). The nene (“nay-nay”) is a variety
of goose that lives and breeds on land. Nene are endangered,
despite a restoration project that began in the late 1940s. They
are protected by law.
whale, which migrates annually from Alaska to Hawaiian waters to
mate and calve (generally during the months of December through
humuhumunukunukuapua‘a (pronounced Hoo-moo-hoo-moo
noo-koo-noo-koo ahh poo-ah-ah) is a Hawaiian Triggerfish.
hibiscus (pua ma’o hau hele; Hibiscus brackenridgei)
Aleurites moluccana), a plant species introduced from Polynesia.
Ancient Hawaiians used the nuts of this tree for oil, medicine
and more. Kukui oil is still used to soothe dry skin and other