In 1778, Captain James Cook became the first known European to go to the Hawaiian Islands. He named the islands the Sandwich Islands, after the Earl of Sandwich. Polynesian kings and a queen ruled the islands for about 100 years, making Hawaii the only state that was ever an independent monarchy. Because of this, it is also the only state with a royal palace.
The state of Hawaii gets its name from the island of Hawaii, one of the eight major islands. However, no one is sure of the origin of the island's name. Some people believe that the island was named after Hawaii Loa, the Polynesian who discovered the island. Other people think the name came from Hawaiki, the old name of islands where Polynesians live. Hawaii's nickname is the "Aloha State." Aloha means love. The abbreviation for Hawaii is HI.
Hawaii, a Pacific state, is located in the Pacific Ocean 2,100 miles southwest of the mainland United States. It is the only state not located on the continent of North America and the only state made up entirely of islands. The state is made up of 132 islands, eight of which are considered major islands. Hawaii is the southernmost state and lies almost entirely in the tropics. Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959. Honolulu is the state's capital and largest city.
Volcanoes built up from the bottom of the ocean formed the islands of Hawaii. Today, Hawaii has both large active and inactive volcanoes. Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano, is located in the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaii has the most diverse population of any state. Most of the state's population is made up of Asian descent, but it also has citizens with Japanese, Filipino, Polynesian, Chinese, and Korean backgrounds, as well as Caucasians. In fact, Hawaii is the only state not dominated by Americans of European descent. Almost all of the state's residents live on seven of the eight major islands and 75 percent of the population live on the island of Oahu. Maui is another of the major islands.
Tourism has been the state's most important industry since 1972. Another important industry in the state is food processing, the state's leading manufacturing activity. Hawaii is a major world producer of pineapples, which are plentiful in the state.
Military Installations have also produced a large percentage of the state's income. Pearl Harbor Naval Base, the center of American naval power in the Pacific, is located in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. The Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, forcing the United States into World War II.
Hawaii is known as the "Paradise of the Pacific" because of its exotic flowers, beaches with palm trees, beautiful mountains, breathtaking cliffs and canyons, thick rainforests, deep blue seas, and majestic waterfalls. The islands have limestone that comes from ancient coral reefs created when the sea level was higher than it is today and vast areas of lava beds. Hawaii is known for its pleasant climate created by cool Pacific winds.
All of the things that make Hawaii a paradise have also made it a favorite tourist spot. The islands are popular among tourists because of Polynesian customs such as hula dancing and Luaus, an outdoors feast with roast pig as the main dish. Many people go to Hawaii to see the world's best surfers at the International Surfing Championships at Oahu Island.