In the late 19th century, Hawaii became a plantation economy which
produced sugar, then later pineapples as export products. Many
immigrants, who were mostly Asian, came to the islands to work on
Many history buffs may associate Hawaii with that faithful day in
1941, on Pearl Harbour when Japanese planes attacked the U.S. fleet
stationed there. The day after this event, Pres. Roosevelt delivered
his “Infamy Speech” (probably the most famous speech ever delivered
in the 20th century) signalled the start of the war between the
United States and Japan.
Unlike in the other states, the residents of Hawaii are
predominantly of the original Polynesian race. But there is a
mixture of other races such as white, black, and Asian. The
residents of the island live together in harmony, despite racial
differences. Here, racial discrimination is almost non-existent.
Composed of eight islands, the “Aloha
State”, as Hawaii is popularly known, was the last state to join the
Union at the end of the 50s. Located almost at the center of the Pacific
Ocean, this area is almost completely of volcanic origin. Those parts
that aren’t volcanic are made up of limestone from coral reefs back in
the days when the level of the sea was much higher.
The terrain of Hawaii is very diverse. Mountains more than four thousand
meters high, large stretches of empty lava beds, palm trees lined golden
sandy beaches, bright colored canyons, magnificent cliffs, thorny
scrublands, dense rainforests, and several colourful patches of forests
and fields make the Hawaiian Islands a picturesque and wonderful place
Over a thousand years ago, Polynesians settled on the islands. It was
not until Captain James Cook arrived in the late 18th century that this
area was placed on the western map. In honour of his patron, John
Montagu, the fourth earl of Sandwich, Cook named the area, the Sandwich
The islands were united into a monarchy towards the end of the 18th
century by King Kamehameha I. He was deposed in the 19th century and
Hawaii became subsequently a republic, then a possession of the United
States, and then its territory at the end of the 19th century.
The Hawaiian Islands enjoy a tropical climate. Summers (dry season) are
from mid-April to mid-October while winters (wet season) occur during
the rest of the year. The islands are sometimes visited by cyclonic
Almost all the residents of Hawaii live in
the urban areas, particularly in the city of Honolulu making this state
rank high in the country in terms of urbanization.
Honolulu is Hawaii’s capital and its biggest city. It dominates Hawaii’s
economic, cultural, social, and political life. The County of Honolulu
includes the City of Honolulu and the island of Oahu, the third largest
island in Hawaii. Hilo is Hawaii’s second largest city. It is the
state’s shipping and business center.
Hawaii’s tourism flourishes all year round. Many “mainlanders” (as the
people from North America are called) visit the islands primarily to
surf its phenomenal waves. Other beach activities include bodysurfing,
swimming, canoeing, skin diving, water-skiing, and spearfishing. Those
who are into “drier” sports may go into wild boar hunting in the nearby
mountains, fishing offshore for marlin, explore volcanic craters, trek
through dried up lava flows and dense forests, or simply play golf or
tennis. Skiing can be had on the slopes of Mauna Kea during the winter
Visitors also enjoy the uniquely Hawaiian
feast called the “luau” wherein one might witness authentic Hawaiian
dancing, with dancers in leis and grass skirts moving to the sound of
guitars and ukeleles, and imbibe in the island’s exotic cuisine that are
mostly cooked with coconut and pineapple.
The “hukilau” is a community fishing
festival which involves a really large net which everyone helps to draw
in. Everyone is then invited to share in the catch. This is just an
example of how community conscious the people of the island are.
Hawaiians as a rule are warm, friendly, and hospitable. They are
unpretentious and have never lost their link with nature. Despite their
booming tourist industry, they have remained unsophisticated and earthy.
Hawaii offers visitors a variety of things to see, do, and enjoy in the
islands. Couple this with the warmth of the people, the tropical sun and
sandy beaches and you have a glimpse of paradise on earth.