The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago in the northern Pacific Ocean, which are part of the United States of America, of which they form the 50th state. The islands are of volcanic origin, and are located about 4,000 km west of the Californian coast, straddling the Tropic of Cancer and extend north-west south-east for over 3,000 km. The major islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Molokai, Kauai, Niihau, Lanai and Kahoolawe, are all located in the southernmost area of the archipelago south of the Tropic of Cancer.
BIG ISLAND (HAWAII)
The largest and southernmost island of the archipelago is the island of Hawaii (Big Island, 10,432 sq km) formed by huge volcanic structures still active today such as Mauna Kea (4,205 meters), the highest mountain in the whole archipelago, the Mauna Loa (4,169 meters), the Hualalai (2,521 meters), the Kohala (1,670 meters), and the Kilauea (1,247 meters).
Northwest of Hawaii is the island of Maui (1,883 sq km), formed by two peninsulas connected to each other by an isthmus. The eastern peninsula is dominated by an imposing volcanic cone, that of the Haleakala (3,055 meters). While in the western peninsula the Puu Kukui rises (1,764 meters). Southwest of Maui is the small and uninhabited island of Kahoolawe (115 sq km), also a mountainous island with Mount Pu’u Moaulanui (452 meters).
LANAI AND MOLOKAI
To the northwest of Maui are the islands of Lanai and Molokai. Lanai (364 sq km) has a volcanic cone to the south, the Lanaihale (1,026 meters). While Molokai (673 sq km), long and narrow, is formed to the west by a plateau and to the east by a mountain range, which is a remnant of an ancient volcanic building, the highest peak of which is Mount Kamakou (1,515 meters).
Northwest of Molokai is the island of Oahu (1,545 sq km), from the economic point of view the most important island of the archipelago. This is the island where the capital Honolulu is located. Oahu is the result of two separate volcanic cones the Wai’anae and the Ko’olau, united by a flat area. The highest peak on the island is Mount Ka’ala (1,220 meters).
The island of Kauai (1,430 sq km) is located about 170 km north-west of Oahu. This island has numerous contrasts. Its western area is semi-desert, while the area of Mount Waialeale (1,569 meters) is one of the rainiest places on Earth. In the central-western area of the island there is a suggestive canyon, the Waimea Canyon. While along the north coast there are the spectacular cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. The highest mountain on the island is Mount Kawaikini (1,598 meters).
To the west of Kauai is the island of Niihau, largely flat which reaches a maximum altitude of 390 meters. The central and northern part of the archipelago is made up of small islands of volcanic origin or coral atolls including the Midway group (Pihemanu).
As for the economy. Agriculture is highly developed in the Hawaiian islands. Sugar cane, pineapple, bananas, coffee, tobacco, rice, tropical fruits are grown. Tourism, the food industry, the canning industry and fishing are also important economic activities on the islands.
- Area: 16,615 sqkm.
- Population: 1,283,000 (2006 data) (Asian 40%, Whites 28%, Mixed 19%, Hawaians 9%, Blacks 2%, others 2%)
- State Capital: Honolulu (Oahu).
- Languages: Official languages are English and Hawaian.
- Religion: Christian 68% (Protestant 32%, Catholic 24%, Mormon 5%, Congregationalist 3%, Baptist 2%, Methodist 2%), Buddhist 9%, Shintoism, Taoism, Paganism 5%.
- Currency: American Dollar (USD).
- Time: UTC -10 hours.