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General Hawaii Information:  Hawaii - The Islands of Aloha
"The loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean." --Mark Twain

Hawaii is the world's most geographically isolated landmass, located 2,400 miles from the West Coast of the U.S. and commonly called the "Crossroads of the Pacific." The eight major islands commonly referred to as the Hawaiian Islands are Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaii, although Kohoolawe and Niihau are usually unable to be visted. Many people are surprised to learn that Hawai'i actually consists of 137 islands stretching across more than 6,400 square miles in the North Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii was first inhabited by voyaging Polynesian settlers sometime between the 3rd and 7th centuries as they made their trek eastward from the South Pacific across the vast uncharted seas. However, Hawaii was unknown to Westerners until 1778 when British Captain James Cook discovered the islands. Today, Hawaii is a modern, cosmopolitan, diverse, multi-cultural society. It is home to 1.2 million residents and welcomes nearly 10 million visitors every year. Honolulu, the state capitol, is located on the island of Oahu, home to nearly three-quarters of Hawaii's residents and the destination for most visitor arrivals.

No other state is so closely associated with its native heritage, ancient traditions, and ethnic diversity. Notably, it is the only state with its own language, music, and dance. Some of the more revered traditions are the Aloha Spirit hospitality, the dancing of hula , the everyday attire of aloha shirts and flower print dresses, the giving of a fresh flower lei for greetings and celebrations, and feasting at a lu'au . Especially popular with residents and visitors alike is the outdoor-inspired, tropical lifestyle and the spectacular year-round weather, averaging a sunny 77 degrees and marked by cooling trade winds.

Hawai'i became the 50th state on August 21, 1959. The state flower is the yellow hibiscus; the state bird, nŽnŽ or Hawaiian goose; the state tree, kukui or Candlenut; the state song, Hawai'i Pono'Ô ; and the state seal and motto, Ua mau ke ea o ka 'šina i ka pono , which translates in Hawaiian to, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

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