Hawaii - Encounter Culture
There may be 50 states in America, but there is only one Hawaii. Drawing cultural inspiration from indigenous people, North America and Asian influences it is as diverse as it is expansive.
Hawaii is the 50th and most recent addition to the United States, officially declared a state on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is unique in many regards, as it the only U.S. state located in Oceania and the only one composed entirely of islands, and is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is the only U.S. state not located in the Americas. Hawaii is made up of 8 main islands and hundreds of smaller islands. The main islands are: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lānai, Kahoolawe, Maui and the Island of Hawai’i or the big island as it commonly referred to.
Hawaii’s diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists.
Hawaii features 750 miles of coastline coming in 4th among US states behind Alaska, California and Florida.
Geology: The Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanic activity initiated at an undersea magma source called the Hawaii hotspot. The process is continuing to build islands; the tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean continually moves northwest and the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. Because of the hotspot’s location, all currently active land volcanoes are located on the southern half of Hawaii Island. The newest volcano, Lōʻihi Seamount, is located south of the coast of Hawaii Island.
Flora and Fauna: Because the islands of Hawaii are distant from other land habitats, life is thought to have arrived there by wind, waves (i.e. by ocean currents) and wings (i.e. birds, insects, and any seeds they may have carried on their feathers). This isolation, in combination with the diverse environment (including extreme altitudes, tropical climates, and arid shorelines), produced an array of endemic flora and fauna. Hawaii has more endangered species and has lost a higher percentage of its endemic species than any other U.S. state. One endemic plant, Brighamia, now requires hand-pollination because its natural pollinator is presumed to be extinct. The two species of Brighamia—B. rockii and B. insignis—are represented in the wild by around 120 individual plants. To ensure these plants set seed, biologists’ rappel down 3,000-foot cliffs to brush pollen onto their stigmas.
Climate: Hawaii’s climate is typical for the tropics, although temperatures and humidity tend to be less extreme because of near-constant trade winds from the east. Summer highs usually reach around 88 °F (31 °C) during the day and 75 °F (24 °C) at night. Winter day temperatures are usually around 83 °F (28 °C); at low elevation they seldom dip below 65 °F (18 °C) at night. Snow, not usually associated with the tropics, falls at 13,800 feet on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on Hawaii Island in some winter months. Snow rarely falls on Haleakalā. Mount Waiʻaleʻale on Kauaʻi has the second-highest average annual rainfall on Earth, about 460 inches (12,000 mm) per year. Most of Hawaii experiences only two seasons; the dry season runs from May to October and the wet season is from October to April.
The warmest temperature recorded in the state, in Pahala on April 27, 1931, is 100 °F (38 °C), making it tied with Alaska as the lowest high temperature recorded in a U.S. state. Hawaii’s record low temperature is 12 °F (−11 °C) observed in May 1979 on the summit of Mauna Kea. Hawaii is the only state to have never recorded sub-zero Fahrenheit temperatures.
Statehood: Hawaii is one of four U.S. states—apart from the original thirteen—the Vermont Republic (1791), the Republic of Texas (1845), and the California Republic (1846)—that were independent prior to statehood. Along with Texas, Hawaii had formal, international diplomatic recognition.
The Kingdom of Hawaii was sovereign from 1810 until 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown by resident American and European capitalists and landholders in a coup d’état. Hawaii was an independent republic from 1894 until August 12, 1898, when it officially became a territory of the United States. Hawaii was declared a U.S. state on August 21, 1959.
Current population: After the arrival of Europeans and Americans, the population of Hawaii fell dramatically until an influx of primarily Asian settlers arrived as migrant laborers at the end of the 19th century.
The United States Census Bureau estimates the population of Hawaii was 1,419,561 on July 1, 2014; an increase of 4.36% since the 2010 United States Census. The center of population of Hawaii is located between the two islands of Oʻahu and Molokaʻi. Surprisingly a large numbers of Native Hawaiians have moved to Las Vegas in recent years, earning it the nicknamed the “ninth island” of Hawaii.
Languages: English and Hawaiian are listed as Hawaii’s “official languages” in the state’s 1978 constitution. Article XV, Section 4 specifies, “Hawaiian shall be required for public acts and transactions only as provided by law”. Hawaii Creole English, locally referred to as “Pidgin”, is the native language of many native residents and is a second language for many others.
As of the 2000 Census, 73.44% of Hawaii residents aged five and older exclusively speak English at home. According to the 2008 American Community Survey, 74.6% of Hawaii’s residents over the age of five speak only English at home. In their homes, 21.0% of state residents speak an additional Asian language, 2.6% speak Spanish, 1.6% speak other Indo-European languages and 0.2% speak an other language.
After English, other languages popularly spoken in the state are Tagalog, Japanese and Ilokano. Significant numbers of European immigrants and their descendants also speak their native languages; the most numerous are German, Portuguese, Italian and French. 5.37% of residents speak Tagalog—which includes non-native speakers of Filipino language, the national, co-official, Tagalog-based language; 4.96% speak Japanese and 4.05% speak Ilokano; 1.2% speak Chinese, 1.68% speak Hawaiian; 1.66% speak Spanish; 1.61% speak Korean; and 1.01% speak Samoan.