Hawaii is one of the fifty states that make up the United States of America and one of the Western states, along with Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. It is comprised of 8 main islands and many smaller ones, and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. Honolulu is the capital. Other important cities in Hawaii are Hilo, Kailua, Kaneohe, and Waipahu.
Hawaii is the 47th of the 50 states by size with an area of 6,422.62 square miles (16,634.51sq km), and ranks 42nd in population with 1,211,537 people in the 2000 census. It is fourteenth among states in population density. The proper name for a resident of Hawaii is a Hawaiian.
It is believed that the earliest settlers of Hawaii were Polynesians, who may have migrated from the Marquesas Islands around AD 400, followed by an influx from Tahiti around 500 years later. Europeans first came to the islands about six or seven hundred years after that, in 1778, when Captain Cook found them, ending centuries of isolation. During the nineteenth century, the British, French, and United States vied for connections and control.
The state motto of Hawaii, affirmed in 1843, is Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono, which means “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness,” and it is a quotation from King Kamehameha III. The king said these words after a complicated situation was resolved: a British sea captain, claiming that the Hawaiian nobility owed large debts, in effect ceded the islands to England, thought he did not have authority to do so. The rule of Hawaii was officially returned by Admiral Richard Thomas, and the king’s comments were part of his response.
The US supported the transformation from a kingdom to a republic in 1893, but the US Congress annexed Hawaii in 1898, and established it as a territory in June, 1900. It is worth noting that the attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into World War II, happened prior to Hawaiian statehood, which came about in 1959, when Hawaii became the fiftieth state.
The state flag of Hawaii is unusual for a US state flag in that it features a Union Jack in the upper left, recognizing the role of the United Kingdom in Hawaii’s history. There are eight red, white and blue stripes on the rest of the flag, representing the eight major islands. The flag features neither the state seal, nor the motto, as if often the case: rather, the seal features the flag and the motto.
The state seal shows the date of statehood, a rising sun, and King Kamehameha and the goddess of liberty jointly holding the Hawaiian flag. There are stripes to represent the eight islands, and the tabu ball and stick, the signs of the king’s authority. There are also a star to represent statehood, a phoenix to represent Hawaii’s rebirth as a state, and taro leaves, banana foliage, and ferns to represent the flora of the islands. The state motto appears as well.
Hawaii’s nickname is the “Aloha State.” Other state emblems include the following: