Aloha! Welcome to Hawaii!
Smack in the center of the Pacific Ocean, a string of islands rises out of the water. Built up from the ocean floor, these islands set the stage for some of nature's crowning achievements. Huge waves roll over stunning coral reefs to crash against white, black, red and even green sand beaches. The planet's highest sea cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop for breathtaking sunsets. Plumes of steam vault upwards as lava spilled from the most active volcano in the world meets the ocean. From the highest mountain to the deepest valley, Hawaii is a feast for the eyes.
Hawaii's scenery is complemented by an equally beautiful climate. Constant trade winds keep the weather stable and enjoyable year-round; you'll be hard pressed to tell the difference between summer and winter here. Within each island, however, the varied landscape makes for very diverse micro-climates. Of the world's 13 different climates, Hawaii has 11. On the Big Island, you can find beautiful sunny beaches and snowcapped mountains. On the island of Kauai, sand dunes are just a few miles away from Mount Waialeale, the wettest place on earth.
The Polynesians who discovered Hawaii quickly developed a deep appreciation for its natural splendor. To preserve the islands' limited resources, they lived by strict environmental laws known as kapu, or taboo, for over a thousand years. The kapu system was eventually abolished and Hawaii was annexed by the U.S., but the love and respect for nature still lives on in native Hawaiian culture. Today, Hawaiians share a sense of compassion and empathy towards every living thing. This positive energy, known as the aloha spirit, has drawn tourists and settlers to Hawaii for generations and has helped make Hawaii a symbol of paradise.
But this paradise is not without its problems. Behind the tiki masks, social tensions linger between the native Hawaiians and the U.S. government. The Hawaiian culture, now a caricature of what it once was, is increasingly exploited to attract tourists while the true culture is fading into obscurity. The laws of kapu have been all but forgotten as the environment shoulders the burden of the booming tourism and real estate industries, earning Hawaii the title of endangered species capital of the world. And being on the most remote inhabited island chain on earth may sound wonderful, but Hawaii's location leads to a higher cost of living and financial stress for locals.
The Aloha State isn't facing these issues lying down. To counter the ongoing environmental destruction, a conservation area larger than all of the U.S. national parks combined was recently established around the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Native Hawaiians are working together to voice their concerns and bring their culture back to life. In the past twenty years, the state has cut the number of children living in poverty by nearly half and Hawaii has the country’s highest public health funding per capita.
You won't find many remote tropical islands with the same level of development as Hawaii. The state has long seen the benefits of being a part of one of the world's most prosperous countries. However, with a new focus on sustainability, Hawaii is working to maintain its natural beauty as well. If you're looking for the best of both worlds — whether you're moving here or just want to hang loose on a beach — come feel the aloha spirit!
- Major Cities: Honolulu, Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Captain Cook, Keauhou.
- Capital City: Honolulu
- Boundaries: Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean
- Languages: English and Hawaiian. English has become the most used language in Hawaii. Hawaiian is mostly reserved for names of places and native residents. A language called Pidgin is the local slang, a combination of Hawaiian and English words.
- Population: 1,360,301 (2010 census)
- Diversity: Asian 37.7%, Caucasian 22.7%, Mixed 19.4%, Native Hawaiian 9.4%, Hispanic 8.9%, African American 1.5%, Other 0.4% (2010 census)
- Government: Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition (CIA World Factbook)
- Official Religions: Christianity and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) are the largest religions.
- Currency: U.S. Dollars (USD)
- Time Zone: Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (UTC-10). Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings.
- Country Calling Code: +1-808
- Climate: Warm and clear year round.
- Gross National Income (GNI) per capita: $47,676 (2010) (Hawaii Economy)
- Population using Improved Drinking Water Sources: All of Hawaii uses improved drinking water.
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