Posted by: forquilombo | December 1, 2010

Middle of the Pacific!

Aloha,

“The Aloha State” became the 50th state in 1959, but the history of Hawaii goes back centuries earlier. Roughly 1,500 years ago, Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands first set foot on Hawaii’s Big Island. With only the stars to guide them, they miraculously sailed over 2000 miles in canoes to migrate to the Islands.

500 years later, settlers from Tahiti arrived, bringing their beliefs in gods and demi-gods and instituting a strict social hierarchy based on a kapu (taboo) system. Hawaiian culture flourished over the centuries, giving rise to the art of the hula and the sport of surfing, but land division conflicts between ruling chieftains were common.

In 1778, Captain James Cook, landed on Kauai at Waimea Bay. Naming the archipelago the “Sandwich Islands” in honor of the Earl of Sandwich, Cook opened the doors to the west. Cook was killed only a year later in Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii’s Big Island.

In 1791, North Kohala born Kamehameha united the warring factions of Hawaii’s Big Island and went on to unify all of the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810. In 1819, less than a year after King Kamehameha’s death, his son, Liholiho, abolished the ancient kapu system.

In 1820, the first Protestant missionaries arrived on Hawaii’s Big Island filling the void left after the end of the kapu system. Hawaii became a port for seamen, traders and whalers. The whaling industry boom flourished in Lahaina Harbor in Maui. Throughout these years of growth, western disease took a heavy toll on the Native Hawaiian population.

Western influence continued to grow and in 1893, American Colonists who controlled much of Hawaii’s economy overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in a peaceful, yet still controversial coup. In 1898, Hawaii became a territory of the United States.

In the 20th century, sugar and pineapple plantations fueled Hawaii’s economy bringing an influx of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Portuguese immigrants. Lanai, under the leadership of James Dole, became known as the “Pineapple Island,” after becoming the world’s leading exporter of pineapple. This mix of immigrant ethnicity is what makes Hawaii’s population so diverse today.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Oahu. Four years later, on September 2, 1945, Japan signed its unconditional surrender on the USS Battleship Missouri, which still rests in Pearl Harbor today. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th State of the United States. Today, Hawaii is a global gathering place for visitors to share in the spirit of aloha. Beyond the sun and surf of the islands, you should try to discover the rich cultural history of Hawaii if you ever visit.

There are primarily six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii’s Big Island. Due to shifting volcanic activity, the oldest Hawaiian island is Kauai to the northwest and the youngest is Hawaii’s Big Island to the southeast. You can see this difference by comparing the topography of these two islands: On Kauai you’ll find lush rain-forests and sea cliffs worn by time along the Napali Coast. Hawaii’s Big Island features rugged lava landscapes as well as Kilauea Volcano, erupting to this day at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The Hawaiian Islands are one the most isolated archipelagos in the world and the southernmost state in the United States. It is generally drier on the leeward (western) sides of the islands, and wetter on the windward (eastern) sides. Hawaii’s wide range of elevations and micro climates allow you to experience a variety of environments including some of the world’s best beaches, lush rain-forests, volcanic deserts and scenic high-altitude views.

Oahu is the third largest island in the Hawaiian chain. It is home to about three-fourths of the state’s population (1.4 million). Honolulu is the state capitol and the 11th largest U.S. metropolitan city. Waikiki, the most world-renowned site in Oahu, is the top visitor destination of the state. This man-made beach attraction encompasses 450 acres but there are more than enough attractions outside of Waikiki to enjoy. Oahu is very diverse culturally and geographically and is filled with the Spirit of Aloha which is why I feel privileged to call it home…

Mahalo!

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