Here’s some basic facts on Hawaii, the 50th state, as well as some amusing trivia.
1. When you say “Hawaii,” most people think of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Niihau, Kahoolawe, and Hawaii. In reality, the state includes the northwestern Hawaiian islands, a collection of islets, seamounts, and shoals that spans 1,350 miles northwest of the “main” islands. They are known together as the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, a World Heritage Site and the biggest contiguous totally protected conservation area under the US flag. Papahanaumokuakea is 582,578 square miles in size, more than all of America’s national parks combined.
2. Captain James Cook was slain in a confrontation with Hawaiians on February 14, 1779, near Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii island (he is the British sea captain who is credited with discovering the Hawaiian Islands a year earlier). In 1877, Hawaiian Princess Miriam Likelike deeded a 5,682-square-foot property near the site of Cook’s death to England for $1 with the condition that it be used “to establish and maintain…a monument in remembrance of Captain Cook.” You’ll be on British land if you go up to the 27-foot white obelisk.
3. Hawaii’s official languages are English and Hawaiian. Prior to the advent of Christian missionaries in 1820, Hawaii had no written language; births, funerals, genealogy, battles, legends of mighty chiefs, descriptions of nature’s beauty, and other information were passed down orally through songs, chants, and poetry from generation to generation. The missionaries created the written Hawaiian language, which consists of just 12 letters: 5 vowels and 7 consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p and w). It also has a ‘okina sign, which is expressed as a grave accent (‘) or a single quotation mark (‘). It is a glottal stop that is considered a consonant and means “separation.”
4. Hawaii is the world’s most remote populated center, located around 2,400 miles from the nearest mainland, the United States’ Mainland. As a result, it has its own time zone, known as Hawaii Standard Time, and does not follow daylight saving time. Hawaii is three hours behind the Pacific Time Zone (i.e., the West Coast of the United States) beginning the second Sunday in March; it is two hours behind beginning the first Sunday in November.
5. Several films have been shot on Hawaii, including Academy Award winners From Here to Eternity (1953), South Pacific (1958), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Jurassic Park (1993), Avatar (2009), and The Descendants (2010). (2011). Oprah Winfrey, Roseanne Barr, Mark Zuckerberg, Mick Fleetwood, Pierce Brosnan, Ben Stiller, Woody Harrelson, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Alex O’Loughlin, and Charles Schwab are among the celebrities who own property in Hawaii. Famous flyer Charles Lindbergh liked Kipahulu, Maui, so much that he wanted to be buried there, in the shadow of a Java plum tree, at Palapala Hoomau Church.
6. Kilauea means “spewing,” which is an apt moniker for the shield volcano, which is one of the most active in the world. Its latest eruption began on January 3, 1983, and it shows no indications of stopping. From early May to early August 2018, lava flows added 875 acres to the island’s eastern shore.
7. Only in Hawaii can you get a tan at the beach in the morning and then throw a snowball in the afternoon (atop Maunakea Volcano on Hawaii island). It is the only state in the United States where coffee, cacao, and vanilla are commercially farmed. The only state gem that isn’t a mineral is Hawaii’s black coral, which is an invertebrate related to the sea anemone whose skeleton is utilized to produce exquisite jewelry. Hawaii is the only state with a royal history and palaces—three, in fact: Hulihee Palace on Hawaii island, Queen Emma Summer Palace in Nuuanu on Oahu, and Iolani Palace in Honolulu, which was connected for electricity in 1886, five years before the White House.
8. Finally, here is a list of superlatives: The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, established in downtown Honolulu in 1843, is the country’s oldest Catholic Church still in operation.
The sea cliffs on East Molokai’s northern shore are the tallest in the planet, rising 3,315 feet above the ocean.
Lahainaluna High School in Maui was founded in 1831 and is the oldest school west of the Rocky Mountains.
Ka Lae on Hawaii Island is generally known as South Point, which is appropriate given that it is the southernmost point in the United States.
Maunakea is the highest mountain in the world, rising more than 33,000 feet from its subterranean base.