Hawaiian Islands

Aloha! Welcome to Hawai'i, the 50th state in the United States. Hawai'i is composed of 132 islands, reefs, and shoals which stretch over 1,500 miles southeast to northwest in the Pacific Ocean. It is on the same general latitude as such cities as Hong Kong, Calcutta, and Mexico City. Most of the total land area of Hawai'i is made up of eight major islands: Kaua'i, Ni'ihau, O'ahu, Moloka'i, Lana'i, Maui, Kaho'olawe, and Hawai'i.

The Hawaiian Archipelago is the result of volcanic activity which began 25,000,000 years ago when a great crack appeared in the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Hot volcanic rock passed through this opening, pushing its way upward for millions of years. Thin layers of lava accumulated till a giant range of mountains was formed. The eight major Hawaiian Islands lie at the southeast end of this chain.

It is generally believed that Hawai'i was settled by Polynesians sometime between 600 and 1000 A.D. They voyaged thousands of miles in double-hulled canoes, possibly making the trip many times to bring their families, animals, trees, and other plant life with them. They lived undisturbed for centuries on their island paradise till January 18, 1778. Then, Captain James Cook, an Englishman, discovered Hawai'i when he sighted the island of O'ahu. This discovery altered the Hawaiians' lifestyle for all time.

After Cook's discovery, the Hawaiians' economic, social, and religious order underwent drastic change. The coming of missionaries from America in 1820 greatly contributed to this development. Between the time of their arrival and the formation of the Republic of Hawai'i, many rulers governed with varying degrees of success. So powerful was the white man's influence upon these monarchs that, by the beginning of this century, Hawai'i became a United States' territory. In August of 1959, Hawai'i became the 50th state of the United States.

Important Dates in Hawai'i's History from Discovery to Statehood

Captain James Cook1778 Captain James Cook discovers Hawai'i on January 18th.

1795 Battle of Nu'uanu Pali is won by Kamehameha I, making him ruler of all islands except Kaua'i and Ni'ihau.

1810 An agreement makes Kamehameha ruler of all Hawaiian Islands.

1819 Kamehameha II, son of Kamehameha I, becomes ruler.
1820 Protestant missionaries arrive from America.

1825 Kamehameha III begins reign.

1835 First sugar cane is commercially grown on island of Kaua'i.

1836 First newspaper is published.

1839 Bible is translated into Hawaiian.

1840 First written constitution is adopted.

1852 First Chinese indentured laborers arrive.

1854 Kamehameha IV becomes ruler.
King Kamehameha V
1863 Kamehameha V begins reign.

1868 First Japanese indentured laborers arrive.

1872 Kamehameha V dies without heir; custom of electing Hawaiian rulers begins.

1872 William Lunalilo becomes ruler of Hawai'i.

1874 David Kalakaua begins reign.

1875 Treaty of commercial reciprocity with United States is made.
1880 Telephone service begins in Hawai'i.

1887 Bloodless revolution on June 30th brings about new constitution with three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. White minority wields most power.
Queen Lili'uokalani
1891 Queen Lili'uokalani, Kalakaua's sister, becomes Hawai'i's first queen and last monarch.

1893 On January 17th, a bloodless revolution marks end of Hawaiian monarchy. A white minority becomes main decision-maker in Hawaiian affairs.

1894 On July 4th, the Republic of Hawai'i is formed with Sanford B. Dole as president.

1898 On August 12th , the United States annexes Hawai'i.

1900 Hawai'i becomes territory of United States on June 14th.

1903 James D. Dole is successful in being first to can pineapple commercially.

1908 Congress grants authority to make Pearl Harbor a naval base.

1920 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 gives Hawaiians a chance to farm on homesteads held on long leases at nominal rents.

1927 First flight between California and O'ahu is made by two Army lieutenants. This flight ushers in air age in Hawai'i.
U.S.S. West Virginia under attack
1941 United States is thrust into World War II when Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7th.

1945 Americans of Japanese ancestry from Hawai'i are among most decorated soldiers in World War II. They serve with the 100th Infantry Battalion, later incorporated into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

1952 Television makes its debut in Hawai'i.

1959 Jet aviation begins, making a trip between California and Hawai'i much shorter.

1959 On August 21st, a bill making Hawai'i the 50th state in the United States is signed into law. William F. Quinn is first governor.
Visit these fine sites for more detailed information about Hawai'i's geography and history.

Columbia Encyclopedia
The Nifty Fifty
The 50 States