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Hawaii: volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean

The Hawaii Islands are an archipelago of the northern Pacific Ocean, forming part of the United States of America, of which is the 50th state.

The islands are of volcanic origin, they lies approximately 4,000 km west of the California coast, and extending towards the north-west to the south-east for more than 3,000 km, the largest islands (Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Molokai, Kauai, Niihau, Lanai and Kahoolawe) are all to the south of the Tropic of Cancer.

The largest and southernmost island in the archipelago is the island of Hawaii (Big Island, 10,432 sq km) formed by still active enormous volcanic structures as the Mauna Kea (4,205 metres), the highest mountain of all archipelago, Mauna Loa (4,169 metres), Hualalai (2,521 metres), Kohala (1,670 metres), and Kilauea (1,247 metres).

To the north-west of Hawaii is the island of Maui (1,883 sq km), it’s formed by two peninsulas connected to each other by an isthmus, the eastern peninsula is dominated by a massive volcanic cone, the Haleakala (3,055 metres), while rises in the western peninsula the Puu Kukui (1,764 metres). To the south-west of Maui is the small and uninhabited island of Kahoolawe (115 sq km), also mountainous mount Pu’u Moaulanui (452 metres).

To the north-west of Maui are the islands of Lanai and Molokai, Lanai (364 sq km) southward presents a volcanic cone, the Lanaihale (1,026 metres), while Molokai (673 sq km), a long and narrow island to the west is formed by a plateau and to the east by a mountain range, remain of an ancient volcanic edifice, whose highest peak is Mount Kamakou (1,515 metres).

To the north-west of Molokai lies the island of Oahu (1,545 sq km), from an economic point of view the most important island of the archipelago, where is the capital Honolulu. The island is the result of two separate volcanic cones the Wai’anae and Ko’olau, united by a flat area, the highest peak of the island is Mount Ka’ala (1,220 metres).

The island of Kauai (1,430 sq km) is located approximately 170 km north-west of Oahu, the island has many contrasts, its western region is semi-desert, while the area of Mount Waialeale (1,569 metres) is one of the most rainy place on Earth, in the central-west of the island there is a striking canyon, the Waimea Canyon, and along the northern coast are the spectacular cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, the highest mountain on the island is Mount Kawaikini (1,598 metres).

To the west of Kauai is the island of Niihau, mostly flat reaching an altitude of up to 390 metres. The central and northern areas of the archipelago is formed by small islands of volcanic origin or coral atolls (Nihoa, Necker (Mokumanamana), French Frigate Shoals (Mokupāpapa), Gardner Pinnacles (Pūhāhonu), Maro Reef (Nalukākala), Laysan ( Kauō), Lisianski (Papaāpoho), Pearl and Hermes Atoll (Holoikauaua), Midway (Pihemanu), Kure (Kānemiloha’i)). Regarding the economy, are very developed agriculture (sugar cane, pineapple, banana, coffee, tobacco, rice, tropical fruits), tourism, food and canning industry, fishing.

  • 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.

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