Hawaii State Facts - Hawaii History Firsts

Catch up on your state trivia with these Hawaii history firsts and interesting fun facts about the state.

Official Name Hawaii
Capital Honolulu
25.00201 N, 167.99880 W
Constitution Ratified August 21, 1959
Statehood August 21, 1959
50th State
Number of Counties 4 Counties in Hawaii
Largest County
(by population)
600 sq. mi.

Hawaii History Firsts & State Facts

  • 1778 - The Hawaiian Islands were originally settled by Polynesian immigrants more than 1000 years ago but remained unknown to Europeans until Captain James Cook landed there in 1778. When Captain Cook, he was greeted as the god Lono because he had arrived during a sacred festival. Initially, the Hawaiians thought Cook's ships were floating islands.
  • 1778 -The native Hawaiian population was estimated to be nearly 1 million. By 1919, the population declined to an astounding 22,600, due in large part to war and disease. The current population of Hawaii is over 1.3 million.
  • 1794 - The eight horizontal stripes on Hawaii's flag represent each of the state's main islands. In the upper-left corner of the flag is a small version of Britain's flag which honors British captain George Vancouver, who gave Hawaii its first flag in 1794
  • 1799 - The first Caucasian foreigner known to have died on the islands was William Watman, a member of Captain James Cook's gunnery crew who was killed by a paralytic stroke in January 1779 at Honaunau
  • 1800 - During the late 1800s, Hawaii developed an export economy based on sugar and pineapple cultivation, drawing thousands of Asian immigrant workers to the farms.
  • 1872 - Day biting mosquitoes first arrived in Hawaii in 1872 as stowaways aboard a merchant ship, bringing with them new diseases such as malaria and the plague.
  • 1843 - The oldest Catholic Cathedral in continuous use in the United States is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu, built in 1843
  • 1893 - Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani attempted to impose a new constitution claiming more authority for native Hawaiians, but white leaders occupied the government office in Honolulu and overthrew the monarchy.
  • 1959 - The first Asian American in the United States Senate was Hawaii's Hiram Fong. Descended from Chinese immigrants, Fong was elected to the Senate.
  • 1959 - Hawaii was the 50th state admitted to the union on August 20th, 1959.
  • 1970 - Hawaii became the first state in the union to legalize abortion on demand in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade. (Colorado legalized abortion in 1967, but only in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.)
  • 2000 - The average projected lifespan of those born in Hawaii in the year 2000 is 79.8 years (77.1 years if male; 82.5 if female), longer than the residents of any other state.

More Hawaii History Firsts & State Facts

  • Hawaii is the only US state made up entirely of islands. The state of Hawaii consists of eight main islands: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island of Hawaii.
  • Hawaii is the southernmost state in the United States. It is composed of 132 islands - eight main islands and 124 islets, reefs, and shoals
  • The word Hawaii is from the Proto-Polynesian hawaiki, meaning 'place of the gods' or 'homeland'
  • Hawaii is the 8th smallest, the 11th least populous, but the 13th most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states
  • Hawaii's coastline is approximately 750 miles (1,210 km) long, which is fourth in the United States after those of Alaska, Florida and California
  • From east to west Hawaii is the second widest state in the United States (behind Alaska), measuring 1,523 miles (2,451 km) from the island of Ni'ihau to the island of Hawai'i
  • Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. Hawaii is 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.
  • Hawaii state's nickname is "Aloha State', because the word 'Aloha' is one of the most used words in Hawaiian Language. Aloha can be used both as 'hello' and 'goodbye'
  • Hawaii has the most advanced telecommunications system in the world. The state is one of only five states in the US with 100 percent digital switching for telephones and more fiber optic cable per mile, per capita than any other state.
  • Iolani Palace, in Honolulu, is the only royal palace in the United States. Electric lights illuminated Iolani Palace four years before the White House in Washington D.C. had them
  • During the Hawaiian Monarchy, Hawaii's population was among the most literate in the world.
  • King Kalakaua was the first reigning monarch to circumnavigate the globe and the first foreign head of state to speak before a joint session of Congress.
  • Hawaii is considered the nation's (USA) endangered species capitol.
  • More than one-third of the world's commercial supply of pineapples comes from Hawaii.
  • Under-sea volcanoes that erupted thousands of years ago formed the islands of Hawaii.
  • Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee.
  • More than one-third of the world's commercial supply of pineapples comes from Hawaii.
  • Hawaiian language has only 12 letters (A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P and W) and a symbol called 'okina (') and it indicated a glottal stop (slight pause) 'Okina is often represented by the apostrophe (') but its official symbol (') In Hawaiian language, Hawaii is written as: Hawai'i. Eevery word in Hawaiian language has to end with one of five vowels (A, E, I, O, U)
  • The Hawaiian Islands are the projecting tops of the biggest mountain range in the world. Under-sea volcanoes that erupted millions of years ago formed the islands of Hawaii.
  • Honolulu's zenith star, (the star that rises directly above it) is Arcturus. The Hawaiians called it Hokule'a. (Hoe koo lay uh.)
  • Under-sea volcanoes that erupted thousands of years ago formed the islands of Hawaii.
  • The Hawaiian archipelago consists of over 130 scattered points of land stretching the distance of 1,523 miles (2,451 km), making Hawaii the longest island chain in the world.
  • Island flowers and colors used to represent each island.
    Niihau - Pupu Shell - White
    Kauai - Mokihana (Green Berry) - Purple
    Oahu - Ilima -Yellow
    Maui - Lokelani (Pink Cottage Rose) - Pink
    Molokai - White Kukui Blossom - Green
    Lanai - Kaunaoa (Yellow and Orange Air Plant) - Orange
    Kahoolawe - Hinahina (Beach Heliotrope) - Grey
    Big Island of Hawaii - Lehua Ohia - Red
  • Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time.) There is no daylight savings time.) The time runs two hours behind Pacific Standard Time and five hours behind Eastern Standard Time.
  • There are four counties in Hawaii (Kauai; city and county of Honolulu; Maui; and Hawaii). Each city has a mayor and council in charge.
  • All subterranean minerals belong to the state. Except for state owned water, some lava stone, and minor granites and semi-precious minerals, there are few underground minerals.
  • The wind blows east to west in Hawaii. The highest recorded temperature is 96' F (Honolulu Airport), but temperatures over 92' F generally occur only once or twice a year. The lowest temperature (under 3000 feet altitude) is 56' F. Temperatures under 60' F may occur but rarely more than once a year. Average daytime temp. (July) is 82° F. Average daytime temperature in January is 72° F.
  • There are no racial or ethnic majorities in Hawaii. Everyone is a minority. Caucasians (Haoles) constitute about 34%; Japanese-American about 32%; Filipino-American about 16% and Chinese-American about 5%. It is very difficult to determine racial identification as most of the population has some mixture of ethnicities.
  • The Hawaii is one of four US states that have outlawed billboards (The others are Alaska, Maine, and Vermont)
  • At less than half a million years old, Hawaii Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands. As it is still forming, the Big island is lacking in good beaches (you need to wait for about 5 million years to get world-class beached on the Big Island) Kauai is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. It's about six million years old.


  • Niihau, the seventh largest of the Hawaiian Islands, was purchased by Elizabeth Sinclair in 1864 from King Kamehameha V for $10,000 in gold and private ownership passed on to her descendants, the Robinson family
  • A privately owned island, with livestock raising as its principal industry. There is highly limited access by general public through helicopter landings at uninhabited sites. Legend says Niihau was the original home of the goddess Pele. The island has a population of 230, and is 69 square miles.


  • The fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • The Waialua River is one of five navigable river in Hawaii. It drains off Waialeale Mountain, which averages 488 inches of rain per year and is considered the wettest spot on earth.
  • The Waimea, the Hanape'pe, the Lumahai and the Hanalei River are almost as big and quite navigable. The Hanalei River was dedicated a "national treasure" recently and is under government protection from use as a "place of business".
  •  The Waialua River is one of five navigable river in Hawaii. It drains off Waialeale Mountain, which averages 488 inches of rain per year and is considered the wettest spot on earth
  • By law, no building on Kauai is allowed to be built taller than a palm tree.
  • Kauai, also known as the 'Garden Isle' is famous for its jagged green mountains, white-sand beaches and tropical landscapes. More than 60 Hollywood movies have been filmed here, including Jurassic Park.


  • Honolulu is the largest city in the world - at least it has the longest borders. According to the state constitution any island (or islet) not named as belonging to a county belongs to Honolulu. This makes all islands within the Hawaiian Archipelago, that stretch to Midway Island (1,500 miles northwest of Hawaii) part of Honolulu. Honolulu is about 1,500 miles long or more distance than halfway across the 48 contiguous states.
  • Wai Golf Course is Hawaii's first municipal course.
  • Honolulu is the nation's 11th largest metropolitan area.
  • More than 100 world-renowned beaches ring Honolulu.
  • Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States.
  • The world's largest wind generator is on the island of Oahu. The windmill has two blades 400 feet long on the top of a tower twenty stories high.
  • The island of Oahu draws more visitors than any other to Hawaii. One-third of the state's best surfing beaches are on Oahu.


  • The island is home to many famous attractions including Haleakala Crater, the old whaling town of Lahaina, the road to Hana, and Kaanapali Beach.
  • Haleakala (means 'House of the Sun') is the world's largest dormant volcano. It forms more than 75% of the Hawaiian Island of Maui. Its crater is 3,000 feet deep, 7.5 miles long by 2.5 miles wide


  • Molokai is known as the most Hawaiian Isle.
  • Hawaii is the only US state with a tropical rain forest . Molokai's east end is a tropical rain forest and part of the island receives 240 inches of rainfall a year.
  • Molokai Ranch Wildlife Park is home to rare African and Indian animals.
  • Kalaaupapa was once a leper colony administered by Father Damien.
  • Molokai's north shore is home to the world's largest sea cliffs (more than 3,000 ft or 914 m high) and Hawaii's longest waterfall (Kahiwa Falls - 2,165 ft or 660 m long)
  • Kalaaupapa on Molokai was once a leper colony. It was administered by Father Damien, a Flemish Catholic missionary, who later died of leprosy he contacted while treating the patients


  • The island of Lani is considered Hawaii's most secluded.
  • The island was once the home of the world's largest pineapple plantations.
  • Hulope Bay is a marine preserve and considered one of the best diving spots in the world.


  • Once used as a target by the US Navy and Air Force the services are cleaning up unexploded shells. No one is allowed to go ashore without permission. The island consists of an uninhabited area of 45 square miles.


"Big Island" is not the name of the island but only a reference to it. "Hawaii" is the actual name but people say "Big Island" as to not confuse the island's name with the rest of the nation.

  • The Big Island is Hawaii's largest at 4,038 square miles. It is twice the size of all other Hawaiian Islands combined.
  • The largest contiguous ranch, in the United States, is in Hawaii. The Parker Ranch near Kamuela has about 480,000 acres of land.
  • At 800,000 years the Big Island is the youngest of the island chain. However, it was the first island discovered by voyaging Polynesians.
  • The Kilauea volcano, estimated to be about 600,000 years old, is the world's largest and most active volcano The Big Island (Hawaii Island) is getting bigger by about 42 acres each year because of the continuous eruption of the Kīlauea Volcano. It's been erupting for 30 years.
  • Ka Lae is the southernmost point in the United States. It is located at 18:54:49 N 155:41:00 W. There is a constant 27 knots per hour wind blowing east to west, 24 hours per day and 365 days per year.
  • Two of the tallest mountains in the Pacific - Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa - dominate the center of the island. Most of the world's macadamia nuts are grown on the island.
  • Ka Lae on the Big Island of Hawaii is the southernmost point in the United States.
  • Standing 13,803 ft (4,207 m) above sea level, the peak of Mauna Kea is the highest point in the state of Hawaii. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the Big island of Hawaii. It is the world's biggest and tallest volcano. It is also the tallest (not highest, because most of it is under the sea) mountain on Earth. When measured from its oceanic base, its height is 33,100 ft (10,100 m) Mount Everest is world's highest (not tallest) mountain as it's peak is 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level.
  • The island houses the world's biggest telescope and more scientific observatories in one place than anywhere else in the world.
  • The island is the worldwide leader in harvesting macadamia nuts and orchids.
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