The Hawaiian archipelago is a string of islands and reefs, that is 3.300 km long and forms a broad arc in the mid-Pacific. The 8 main islands of Hawaii are Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. The biggest island is Hawaii, which has 8.150 square kilometres – it’s nearly 2/3 of the state’s total area and therefore is this island so-called Big Island. The smallest is Kahoolawe (125 km2) – uninhabited.
Hawaii is near the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the capital city is Honolulu. The Hawaiian surface is covered by series of massive volcanoes. Several of them on the Big Island remain active (Mauna Loa pours out lava on the average of once every 4 years).
Hawaii is a state of many changes on elevation. This is the result of the erosion of the volcanic surface by moving water. On the islands there are several hundred meters high waterfalls. The latitude of Honolulu (20oN) is the same as in Calcutta and Mexico City. Climate – in the capital city (Honolulu) is the temperature record high of 31oC and low 13oC. During the summer Hawaii is under the continual influence of NE winds, which create characteristic Hawaiian weather – breezy, sunny with some clouds, warm but not hot. In winter these winds disappear and the storms comes.
The isolation of Hawaiian islands has created a plant and bird community of huge diversity (66 uniquely Hawaiian land birds have been identified and there were no land mammals until humans arrived).
Settlement – Polynesian – these people set out on repeated voyages (in open canoes) across the ocean. Settler, who came to Hawaii 1.000 years ago, came from the Maquesas (4.000-km to the SW). The 2nd wave of Polynesian migrants arrived 500-600 years ago. The 1st European was Captain James Cook (1778). He was killed but the news about his discovery spread quickly and it was recognised that the islands were the best location for trade between North America and Asia.
In 1820´s the islands were the centres for whalers for 1/2 century. In the same time the Protestant missionaries came to the islands.
In 1837 was established the 1st Hawaiian plantation. Between 1852-1930 the owners brought 400.000 agriculture labourers from Asia, therefore in 1852 ethnic Hawaiians represented 95% of population but already in 1900 they represented less than 15% (75% were Oriental).
Political history – the restless time was during 120 years after Cook’s discovery.
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