The Aloha State

Where is it?

State Flag




Pacific Ocean
Geographic coordinates:
18°55'N to 29°N
154°40'W to 162°W
total:10,932 sq mi
land: 6,423 sq mi
water: 4,508 sq mi
coastline: 750 miles
shoreline: 1,052 miles
Bordering States:
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: 0 ft
highest point: Mauna Kea 13,796 ft
Hawaii is the southernmost state of the United States, and would be the westernmost, if not for Alaska. It is one of the only two states (Alaska being the other) that are outside the contiguous United States, and do not share a border with another U.S. state. Hawaii is the only state that: (1) lies completely in the tropics; (2) is without territory on the mainland of any continent; (3) is completely surrounded by water; and (4) continues to grow in area because of active extrusive lava flows, most notably from Kilauea (Kilauea). Except for Easter Island, Hawaii is the furthest from any other body of land in the world. The Hawaiian Archipelago comprises eighteen islands and atolls extending across a distance of 1,500 miles (2,400 km). Of these, eight high islands are considered the "main islands" and are located at the southeastern end of the archipelago. These islands are, in order from the northwest to southeast, Niihau (Ni'ihau), Kauai (Kaua'i), Oahu (O'ahu), Molokai (Moloka'i), Lanai (Lana'i), Kahoolawe (Kaho'olawe), Maui (Maui), and Hawaii (Hawai'i). The latter is by far the largest, and is very often called the "Big Island" or "Big Isle". The use of that alternative name is often motivated by a desire to avoid ambiguity with "Hawaii" meaning the entire state (all of the islands), as opposed to only that one island. All of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanoes arising from the sea floor through a vent described in geological theory as a hotspot. The theory maintains that as the tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean moves in a northwesterly direction, the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. This explains why only volcanoes on the southern half of the Big Island are presently active.




1,419,561 (2014)
Largest City:
Honolulu: 390,738 (2012)
Age structure:
0-5 years old: 7.0%
<18 years old: 23.7%
65 years and over: 13.6%
Male: 49.9% Female: 50.1%
Population growth rate:
5.3% (2000-2005)
Population density:
110.7 per sq mi
Race(2000 Census):
White non-Hispanic: 23.3%
Hispanic: 7.9%
Black: 2.2%
Asian: 41.8%
Native American: 0.3%
Native Native Hawaiin or Pacific Islander: 9.1%
Multi-Race: 20.1%
Christian: 68%
Other: 5%
Buddhist: 9%
Non-Religious: 18%
Christian: 92%
Other: 1%
Non-Religious: 7%




Hawaii was first inhabited in roughly 1000 A.D., by foreign Polynesians who came from islands in the South Pacific, most likely the Marquesas. By colonizing Hawaii, these originally foreign settlers in effect became Hawaiian people. For about 800 years, these people were sometimes at peace and sometimes at war with each other, while they expanded their colonial territory throughout the eight main islands. During this time, the Hawaiian people also developed a complex caste society governed by an extensive system of religious and social taboos called the kapu system. When British explorer James Cook chanced upon the Hawaiian archipelago in 1778, a Hawaiian warrior known as Kamehameha was beginning a gradual ascent to power. Before his death in 1819, Kamehameha had succeeded in conquering (through military force, or in the case of Kauai and Niihau, by other political means) all of the major Hawaiian islands. The kingdom established by Kamehameha lasted until 1893, when the last Hawaiian monarch, Liliuokalani, was overthrown and replaced by a Provisional Government, and later a Republic. During the kingdom and republic era, Hawaii's economy transitioned from that of an isolated state into that of a state integrated into the world's free market, producing and exporting more than two hundred thousand tons of sugar annually. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed to the United States of America and attained statehood in 1959.




August 21, 1959 (50th State)
State Tree:
Kukui - Candlenut
State Bird:
State Flower:
Hibiscus or Pua Aloalo
The state government of Hawaii is modeled after the federal government with adaptations originating from the kingdom era of Hawaiian history. As codified in the Constitution of Hawaii, there are three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch is led by the Governor of Hawaii and assisted by the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, both elected on the same ticket. The governor, in residence at Washington Place, is the only public official elected for the state government in a statewide race; all other administrators and judges are appointed by the governor. The lieutenant governor is concurrently the Secretary of State of Hawaii. Both the governor and lieutenant governor administer their duties from the Hawaii State Capitol. The governor and lieutenant governor oversee the major agencies and departments of the executive of which there are twenty. The legislative branch consists of the Hawaii State Legislature — the twenty-five members of the Hawaii State Senate led by the President of the Senate and the fifty-one members of the Hawaii State House of Representatives led by the Speaker of the House. They also govern from the Hawaii State Capitol. The judicial branch is led by the highest state court, the Hawaii State Supreme Court, which uses Aliiolani Hale (Ali'iolani Hale) as its chambers. Lower courts are organized as the Hawaii State Judiciary. The state is represented in the Congress of the United States by a delegation of four members. They are the senior and junior United States Senators, the representative of the First Congressional District of Hawaii and the representative of the Second Congressional District of Hawaii. Many Hawaii residents have been appointed to administer other agencies and departments of the federal government by the President of the United States. All federal officers of Hawaii administer their duties locally from the Prince Kuhio Federal Building (Kuhio) near the Aloha Tower and Honolulu Harbor. Hawaii is primarily dominated by the Democratic Party and has supported Democrats in 10 of the 12 presidential elections in which it has participated. In 2004, John Kerry won the state's 4 electoral votes by a margin of 9 percentage points with 54% of the vote. Every county in the state supported the Democratic candidate.




The history of Hawaii can be traced through a succession of dominating industries: sandalwood, whaling, sugarcane, pineapple, military, tourism, and education. Since statehood was achieved in 1959, tourism has been the largest industry in Hawaii, contributing 24.3% of the Gross State Product (GSP) in 1997. New efforts are underway to diversify the economy. The total gross output for the state in 2003 was US$47 billion; per capita income for Hawaii residents was US$30,441. Industrial exports from Hawaii include food processing and apparel. These industries play a small role in the Hawaii economy, however, due to the considerable shipping distance to markets on the west coast of the United States and ports of Japan. The main agricultural exports are nursery stock and flowers, coffee, macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, and sugar cane. Agricultural sales for 2002, according to the Hawaii Agricultural Statistics Service, were US$370.9 million from diversified agriculture, US$100.6 million from pineapple, and US$64.3 million from sugarcane. Hawaii is known for its relatively high per capita state tax burden. In the years 2002 and 2003, Hawaii residents had the highest state tax per capita at US$2,757 and US$2,838, respectively. This rate can be explained partly by the fact that services such as education, health care and social services are all rendered at the state level — as opposed to the municipal level as all other states. Millions of tourists contribute to the collection figure by paying the general excise tax and hotel room tax; thus not all the taxes collected come directly from residents. Business leaders, however, have often considered the state's tax burden as being too high, contributing to both higher prices and the perception of an unfriendly business climate . See the list of businesses in Hawaii for more information on commerce in the state.