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Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

Founded: In 1850, Kamehameha III proclaimed Honolulu the capital city of the independent Kingdom of Hawaii. Under US control, the county of Oahu was established on July 1, 1905. Two years later, it was renamed the city and county of Honolulu. A city charter was adopted when Hawaii became a state in 1959.
Location: Southern shore of Oahu, one of eight major islands in the state of Hawaii, in the northern Pacific Ocean, 2,390 miles from California, and 3,850 miles from Japan
Flag: Honolulu does not fly a city flag.
Motto: Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono (state motto, attributed to King Kamehameha III, meaning "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.")
Island Flower: Ilima
Time Zone: Hawaii is located in its own time zone, called Hawaiian Standard Time. The state does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Noon in Hawaii = 2 pm on the US West Coast/5 pm on the US East Coast (Standard Time, November through August). During mainland Daylight Savings (AprilOctober), there is a three hour difference with the West Coast and a six hour difference with the East Coast.
Ethnic Composition: 24% Caucasian; 21% Japanese; 17% mixed ancestry, other than part-Hawaiian; 16% part-Hawaiian; 7% Filipino; 6% Chinese, 1% pure Hawaiian
Latitude and Longitude: 21°1825 N, 157°5130 W
Coastline: Southern shore of the island of Oahu
Climate: Typically warm and sunny throughout the year, with slight temperature variations; nearly constant trade winds moderate heat and humidity. Kona weather, with warmer winds from the south, brings higher temperatures and humidity. Winter months are wetter, and sometimes stormier, but rainbows quickly follow the rains.
Annual Mean Temperature: Summer highs range from 85 to 87°F (29.430.6°C); night lows average 70 to 74°F (21.123.3°C). In the winter, daytime highs range from 70 to 74°F (21.123.3°C); night lows average 65 to 69°F (C18.320.6°C).
Average Annual Precipitation: Varies dramatically in different parts of the city. The waterfront district of Waikiki only averages about 25 inches of rain, but the Lyon Arboretum in the upper Manoa Valley, about 5 miles to the north, averages 158 inches.
Government: Mayor and nine-member city council.
Weights and Measures: Standard US
Telephone Area Code: 808 in the city and county of Honolulu

1. Introduction

Aptly named "The Gathering Place," Oahu is the hub of the Hawaiian Islands, and Honolulu is the heartbeat of Oahu. Most of Honolulu is settled in a narrow shoulder on the south shore of Oahu, nestled between mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and surrounded by fields of sugarcane and pineapple, ranch lands, and farms. One of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States, more than 75 percent of the state's multicultural population reside there. The economic and entertainment capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is a sophisticated metropolis with a plethora of activities, attractions, and events; however, the city also enjoys a tropical atmosphere and magnificent natural beauty. Much of Hawaii's culture is preserved in Honolulu, in its many museums, churches, national memorials and monuments, and the Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States. Perhaps all of these are reasons why 70,000 travelers from around the world visit the island each day.

2. Getting There


The island of Oahu has two major freeways that are part of the national highway system: H-1 and H-2. While the city is compact and easy to navigate, the private automobile remains a predominant mode of transport, often clogging the freeways during rush hour. The city has experimented with water transport with little success. Mayor Jeremy Harris' proposed light-rail system has not been well received.


Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Honolulu did not become a popular tourist destination until the airplane age. Today, most people who come to Oahu arrive at the Honolulu International Airport. Before 1932, the airport was named after Commander John Rodgers. He made the first flight from the mainland United States to Hawaii in 1925. It is possible to get to Hawaii by cruise ship and travel to the other islands by cruise ship, but the bulk of inter-island travel is serviced by airlines. Hawaiian Airlines has daily flights to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The smaller Aloha Airlines also serves the West Coast. All major U.S. airlines fly to the islands. Japanese airlines have daily service to Honolulu and neighboring islands. Honolulu is a hub for many Pacific Islands.

Honolulu Population Profile

Population: 377,050
Area: 1,540 sq km (594 sq miOahu)
Ethnic composition: 24% Caucasian; 21% Japanese; 17% mixed ancestry, other than part-Hawaiian; 16% part-Hawaiian; 7% Filipino; 6% Chinese, 1% pure Hawaiian
World population rank 1: unranked
Percentage of national population 2: <1%
Nickname: The Gathering Place

  1. The Honolulu metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the total US population living in the Honolulu metropolitan area.


Honolulu is located at the crossroads of transpacific cargo carriers, and its port has extensive shipping facilities. The port also serves local industries, including pineapple canneries, sugar refineries, and clothing factories.

3. Getting Around

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Oahu Transit Services operates a successful public bus service. The American Public Transit Association named "The Bus" America's Best Transit System in 19941995. "The Bus" transports 260,000 people over 60,000 miles each day. Buses, many of them equipped with bicycle racks, travel throughout the island. With 1,350 employees, "The Bus" is one of Oahu's largest employers.


Honolulu ranks first in tourist arrivals, and some of the state's most visited attractions are within its boundaries. In Oahu, most visitors head for the Waikiki district of Honolulu. Other popular spots in and around the city include the USS Arizona Memorial and Visitors Center in Pearl Harbor; Punchbowl Crater, home of the National Memorial Cemetery; the retired battleship USS Missouri ; the Queen Emma Summer Palace; and Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States.

4. People

Honolulu is one of the most diversified cities in America. About 24 percent of residents are Caucasian; 21 percent are Japanese; 17 percent are mixed ancestry, other than part-Hawaiian; 16 percent are part-Hawaiian; seven percent are Filipino, six percent are Chinese; and about one percent are pure Hawaiian. There are many small Pacific and Asian minorities. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, in the city and county of Honolulu, 264,372 people were white; 195,149 were of Japanese ancestry; 120,029 were Filipino; 63,265 were Chinese; 91,967 were Hawaiian; 25,875 were black; 3,532 were Native American; and 72,042 were of other heritage.

Early Hawaiians worshipped many ancestral gods and spirits. They made daily offerings to Pele, goddess of the volcano. They also made offerings to Ku, the god of war, and Lono, the god of fertility. Today, many Hawaiians hold on to their beliefs. Others have accepted Christianity or other religions. The remains of heiau, places of worship for early Hawaiians, are found throughout Oahu. The Catholic Church, with some 200,000 members, is the largest congregation in the state. Buddhists are second, with more than 85,000 members. There are Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim houses of worship as well.

English and Hawaiian are the official languages. Hawaiian, a melodious language, is a Polynesian dialect. It has only 12 letters: the vowels a, e, i, o, u, and the consonants h, k, l, m, n, p and w. In order to clarify pronunciation, a glottal stop (') or 'okinasimilar to the sound between the oh's in the English oh-ohis used in the Hawaiian language. The state's name often is spelled Hawai'i. About 85 percent of all place names in Hawaii are in Hawaiian. Many Hawaiian phrases and words, as well as words from immigrant groups, have been incorporated into everyday usage. Some common Hawaiian words include aloha (a word of many meanings that expresses love, affection, compassion, grace and charity. It is often used as a greeting), and mahalo (thanks).

Pidgin, a simplified form of English, is still used in the islands. It was developed by Hawaii's many immigrant groups to communicate with one another. Modern pidgin has been defined as local slang and has come under attack by some educators who believe it is keeping children from speaking proper English. Others defend pidgin as a cultural treasure unique to Hawaii. Pidgin is not easy to pick up. It has a cadence of its own, double meanings, and borrowed words from many languages. Some examples include talk story : to have a conversation, to gossip; ono grinds : good food (or broke da mouth, for delicious); brah : brother or friend; I am pau : I am done, finished; and Pau Hana: quitting time. Japanese and other Asian languages also are widely spoken.

City Fact Comparison
Indicator Honolulu Cairo Rome Beijing
(United States) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 377,050 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded 1850 AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $112 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $52 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $13 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs (hotel, meals, incidentals) $177 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 2 13 20 11
Largest newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 102, 358 1,159,339 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1856 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

5. Neighborhoods

One of the world's most famous neighborhoods is Waikiki, on the southern shores of the island of Oahu. Separated from the rest of Honolulu by the Ala Wai Canal, Waikiki truly seems to be a city of its own. With about 25,000 residents and thousands of daily visitors, Waikiki never seems to sleep. It has more than 400 restaurants and well over 300 bars and clubs. Yet, remarkably, Waikiki architecture, except for a few buildings, is quite unremarkable. Most are large concrete monoliths with little visual interest. North of the city is the neighborhood of Makiki, one of the most densely populated areas in the city. Makiki Heights, which as the name implies, climbs up the hills that buttress the northern end of the city, is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Honolulu. Just to the east is Manoa Valley, where beautiful residential homes are surrounded by lush green hills on three sides. It is also one of the rainiest areas in the city. One of the most typical buildings in the city is the "walk up," a two, three, or four-story building without elevators. Because of its benign weather, more than 80 percent of households do not use heating or air conditioners.

6. History

Archaeological evidence suggests that the first settlers to the Hawaiian Islands arrived from the Marquesas sometime between 500 and 750. Settlers from Tahiti arrived sometime in 1000 and may have enslaved the Marquesans, forcing them to build temples and work in the fields.

The British explorer Captain James Cook (172879) was the first known Westerner to sight the island of Oahu, on January 18, 1778. He was killed in a fight with Hawaiians when he returned to the islands a year later. Many Westerners would soon come to the islands, some with the idea of conquest in mind. By the late eighteenth century, powerful Hawaiian rulers battled for control of the archipelago. In 1795, King Kamehameha the Great (c. 17581819; r. 17921819), who controlled the Big Island of Hawaii, captured Maui and Molokai and set his eyes on Oahu. Kamehameha's large fleet of battle canoes landed in present-day Waikiki. His soldiers moved across the valley and into the mountains pursuing Kalanikupule, the king of Oahu.

Kamehameha had quite an advantage. Among his troops were several Western sharpshooters with firearms. With superior firepower, they forced Kalanikupule's troops high into the valley. In the final battle, hundreds of Oahuans were forced to jump to their deaths from the Nuuanu Pali (cliffs). After his victory, Kamehameha united the islands under one kingdom.

During the time of the Kamehameha's invasion, Honolulu was little more than a village of small huts near the water. In 1793, Captain William Brown directed his English frigate Butterworth into what is now known as Honolulu Harbor. He named it Fair Heaven, but it came to be known as Brown's Harbor. It is not clear how the harbor came to be known as Honolulu, which means protected bay. But it was clear to sailors that the bay offered a perfect place to set anchor. As more ships came, Honolulu began to grow. By 1809, King Kamehameha moved his residence from Waikiki to Honolulu to tighten his control on the valuable sandalwood trade. By the 1820s, whaling ships began to stop in Honolulu. Their crews were a rough crowd. Taverns and brothels soon followed to serve their needs. Not far behind were Christian missionaries who traveled to the islands to convert the Hawaiians.

The missionaries exerted enormous influence. By the mid-1800s, they managed to convince the Hawaiian royalty to prosecute drunken sailors and curb the growing prostitution trade. Most whaling boats abandoned Honolulu for the safer confines of Lahaina on Maui. The sons of these original missionaries would in time become businessmen who wielded enormous power in the islands. They came to control most of the land, and operated large and profitable sugar plantations. Westerners also brought many diseases that decimated the native Hawaiian population. Faced with a worker shortage, the plantation owners brought thousands of Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Filipinos, and Koreans to work the land.

Hawaii had become a desirable place to outsiders. In 1843, the British held the island for five months before leaving. The French followed in 1849. The Hawaiians got their kingdom back but could not stop the steady flow of foreigners coming to the islands. By 1893, the Hawaiian kingdom was once again under siege by outsiders. White planters and businessmen plotted with the United States Minister to Hawaii, John L. Stevens, to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. Queen Lili'uokalani (18381917; r. 18911894), who had recently succeeded her brother, Kalakaua, was pushing for democratic reforms when she was forced to relinquish her authority. But the queen did not cede her powers to the provisional government that had just overthrown her. She ceded it to the United States with the hope that it would "undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands." U.S. President Grover Cleveland (18371908; president 188589; 189397) agreed the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani had been illegal. "By an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States," Cleveland wrote, "and without authority of Congress, the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown. A substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair."

Cleveland ordered the lowering of the U.S. flag, but the provisional government refused. Hawaiians, greatly outnumbered and without weapons to defend themselves, were no longer in control of their own destiny. The provisional government in Honolulu systematically tightened its control of the islands, even imprisoning Queen Lili'uokalani for several months. By 1898, Hawaiians could only watch as the United States finally annexed the islands.

"Because of the overthrow and annexation, Hawaiian control and Hawaiian citizenship were replaced with American control and American citizenship. We suffered a unilateral redefinition of our homeland and our people, a displacement and a dispossession in our own country," wrote Haunani-Kay Trask, professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii. Today, many of the remaining Hawaiians are among the poorest residents on the islands.

For the United States, the Territory of Hawaiiespecially Honolulubecame a key military post. Large installations were built, including bases inside Diamond Head, an extinct volcano and important Honolulu landmark. Massive guns pointed out to sea. Through the early 1900s, the military presence grew steadily.

"A day that will live in infamy," President Franklin D. Roosevelt (18821945; president 193345) told Americans on December 7, 1941, after 360 Japanese aircraft dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor, just west of Honolulu, and other military bases throughout the island of Oahu. A 798-kilogram (1,760-pound) armor-piercing bomb slammed through the deck of the USS Arizona and ignited its forward ammunition magazine. The massive explosion at about 8:10 am was heard in Honolulu. In less than nine minutes, the ship sank with its crew. The loss of the Arizona symbolized the beginning of World War II (193945) for Americans; the explo sion that instantly galvanized public opinion in favor of the war effort. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor even though he opposed going to war against the United States, said he feared that Japan "had awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve."

In all, 2,341 military personnel and 54 civilians were killed. More than 50 of the bombs that fell on Honolulu were American Navy anti-aircraft shells that missed their targets. The Japanese destroyed eight battleships, three destroyers, and 188 planes, bombing several military targets throughout the island. The Japanese lost 64 men, 29 aircraft, and five midget submarines.

In the middle of the Pacific, Honolulu played a crucial role in the war against Japan. More than one million soldiers passed through the city on their way to battles in the Pacific. Thousands who died in the war were buried in a cemetery in Honolulu. Its residents lived under martial law for more than three years, the only place in the United States subjected to such measures.

In many ways, the World War II effort demanded more from civilians living in the territory of Hawaii than anywhere else in the United States. In Honolulu, military authorities declared martial law and suspended civil liberties the day of the attack. Civilian authorities expected martial law to last only a few months, but for the next three years, Honolulu and the islands became virtual armed military camps. During the war, as much as one-third of the island of Oahu was occupied by military forces.

The lives of regular citizens were drastically altered by the war. Japanese immigrants and their American-born second generation in Hawaii immediately came under suspicion, and their loyalties were questioned. They exceeded 40 percent of the population, with 124,000 American citizens and 45,000 immigrants. The military forced Americans of Japanese ancestry who worked at military bases to wear a black-bordered badge to indicate their ethic origin. Their banks, Shinto shrines, department stores, and language schools were confiscated and 1,875 Japanese Americans were arrested and sent to relocation or internment camps on the mainland.

"Speak American" posters could be seen throughout Honolulu, one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the United States. While Japanese Americans were singled out, the war and martial law affected the entire population. Everyone was required to carry a gas mask at all times. The beautiful beaches of Waikiki were covered with barbed wire. Curfews and blackouts forced everyone indoors by 6:00 pm. Every citizen in the islands was fingerprinted, the first mass fingerprinting of civilians in U.S. history. Phone calls and mail were censored, and the military issued dollar billswith a Hawaii imprintthat could only be used on the islands. Hawaii residents didn't complain much about their plight and were often eager to prove their loyalty.

More than 40,000 volunteered to serve in the armed forces. Among them were Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) who joined the all-AJA 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most highly decorated units in the war. The years 1941 through 1945 would forever alter the character of Honolulu and the Hawaiian Islands.

On August 21, 1959, Hawaii became the fiftieth state of the United States. Most people celebrated, but for many native Hawaiians, becoming a state was just another blow against dreams of sovereignty. In 1993, in a joint resolution, Congress formally apologized to the Hawaiian people for the illegal overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani. Many native Hawaiians continue to press for some type of sovereignty.

Status as a new state, the tourism hype, romantic and often inaccurate Hollywood movies about Hawaii, and the selling of the Hawaiian culture soon turned the islands into a major travel destination for Americans. Honolulu's Waikiki District, which in the early twentieth century was mostly wetlands and fertile agricultural land, came to host more than 30,000 hotel rooms by the 1990s. On a typical day, Waikiki, which has a population of about 25,000 people, hosts thousands of visitors. Honolulu felt the growing pressures. Uncontrolled growth littered the city with ugly buildings. Rents went up, and many Honolulu residents soon were unable to afford to buy their own homes. Tourism brought jobs, but mostly low-paying jobs. By the 1990s, Hawaii, and Honolulu became heavily dependent on tourism, especially Japanese tourism. By 1999, the Asian economic downturn affected Honolulu, due to the steady erosion of Asian visitors in the previous two years.

7. Government

Oahu is incorporated as the city and county of Honolulu. The mayor is elected to a four-year term, but cannot serve for more than two consecutive terms. The mayor appoints a managing director to run several city departments. The Council has nine members, each elected to a four-year term. Like the mayor, council members cannot serve for more than two consecutive terms.

8. Public Safety

Honolulu ranks as one of the safest cities in America, with low crime rates. The Police Department reported an 11 percent drop in overall crime in 1998, the lowest in ten years. Police officials believe greater efforts at community policing have decreased overall crime.

During 1998, 47,453 crimes were reported in Honolulu, a decrease of 11 percent from 1997. In 1995, 67,000 crimes were reported. Violent crime was down by 11 percent in 1998, and property crime had a similar drop. The largest decrease came in larceny-theft. Tourists are often targeted by petty larceny. Rental cars are particularly vulnerable.

9. Economy

Tourism is the most important industry in Hawaii, especially in Honolulu, which is the leading economic center of the state. Tourism brings between $8 billion and $9 billion to the state each year, or about 55 percent of all income. The military contributes about 19 percent while services and merchandise contribute about 26 percent. During 199899, while the mainland United States was thriving economically, Honolulu and the rest of Hawaii were in an economic downturn. Hawaii is highly dependent on Japanese tourism, but the Asian economic crisis cut into the number of visitors.

Honolulu is located at the crossroads of transpacific cargo carriers, and its port has extensive shipping facilities. The port also serves local industries, including pineapple canneries, sugar refineries, and clothing factories.

10. Environment

With close to 900,000 residents in less than 1,554 square kilometers (600 square miles), Oahu, once a pristine island, has suffered much environmental degradation. Sugar plantations and other agricultural activities have added to pollution problems. There is little air pollution, but the island remains sensitive to water pollution. Some of its beaches are in danger of erosion. However, the endangered green turtle has shown signs of recovery in Hawaii.

11. Shopping

Because it is highly dependent on tourism, Oahu offers a great deal of shopping, from giant malls to small kitsch souvenir shops. Many tourists take home Hawaiian shirts, even surf-boards made locally. Flower leis are also very popular.

12. Education

There are four major colleges in Oahu. The University of Hawaii has its main campus in the Manoa Valley in Honolulu. A branch of UH, as it is known locally, is located in West Oahu. The East-West Center, established in 1960 to promote technical and cultural exchange between the United States and Asian countries, is located at the UH Manoa Campus. Chaminade University was established in 1950, and Hawaii Pacific University, which attracts students from throughout the world, was established in 1953. UH's three campuses and seven community colleges have a total enrollment of about 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students. UH offers degrees in more than 80 programs, including oceanography, tropical agriculture, and Hawaiian studies. Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu is renowned for its culinary school. Also in Oahu is the Hawaii Campus of Brigham Young University.

13. Health Care

Hawaii ranks first in the United States in life expectancy, with about 76 years for men and 81 years for women. They are considered among the healthiest in the world. The state has 240 doctors and 82 dentists for every 100,000 people. In Oahu, there are 11 major hospitals. While heart disease and cancer are leading causes of death in Hawaii, sunburn is one of the most common ailments.

14. Media

Two daily newspapers, The Honolulu Advertiser, and The Star-Bulletin, serve Honolulu. There are several weeklies, including some that cater to immigrant communities. The major networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX, have local affiliates. Oceanic Cable offers dozens of channels to subscribers. Major West Coast newspapers often reach Honolulu readers on the day of publication, and The New York Times offers home delivery.

15. Sports

There are no professional sports teams in Hawaii, but in Honolulu, the University of Hawaii provides plenty of action. Women's and men's NCAA volleyball is quite popular, with some of the more competitive matches played in front of sell-out crowds. The Wahine (women) have won several national titles. The university football team had a rough decade in the 1990s but finished the 1999 season with a winning record.

Water sports rule in Hawaii, especially in Oahu, which has nearly 600 surfing sites, including the famous Banzai Pipeline. North Shore, about a half-hour's drive north of Honolulu, is host to some of the most important surfing and body board events in the world. During the winter, waves reach six to nine meters (20 to 30 feet) in height, with some breaks as high as 12 meters (40 feet). Summer is the best time to surf on the south shore. Outrigger canoe racing is one of the fastest growing sports in the islands. In January 2000, public school authorities were considering making it an official sport.

16. Parks and Recreation

Oahu has more than 60 beach parks, including the large Ala Moana, just west of Waikiki. Beach parks are popular with Oahu families. During weekends at Ala Moana, many people arrive at the break of dawn to reserve some of the more popular spots. Large extended families spend the entire day at the park, cooking, and playing games. Kapiolani Park, home to the city's zoo, also is a popular park. A large section is dedicated to sports fields, including soccer, rugby and softball. There is plenty of hiking in the nearby mountains, with trails that lead to waterfalls and gorgeous views of Honolulu. Diamond Head, an extinct volcano, offers one of the most popular walks in the city.

17. Performing Arts

Honolulu has a lively, albeit modest, performing arts scene. Diamond Head Theater has been staging Broadway shows, revivals, and musicals for 84 years. Kumu Kahua Theater promotes Hawaii's cultural heritage. The Hawaii Theater, with seating for 1,400 people, hosts many community gatherings and performances. The John F. Kennedy Theater at the University of Hawaii is home to the department of theater and art. The Neal S. Blaisdell Center is home to the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. The Royal Hawaiian Band, founded in 1836 by order of King Kamehameha III, is the only full-time municipal band in the United States.

18. Libraries and Museums

The Bishop Museum and Planetarium holds more than 20 million artifacts from Hawaiian and Polynesian history, the world's largest collection. The Honolulu Academy of Arts has exhibits on Western and Asian art. It is home to the Kress Collection of Italian Renaissance paintings. The Contemporary Museum has many important art pieces. The Hawaii Maritime Center features Pacific maritime history. The Mission Houses Museum displays the history of early missionary settlements in Hawaii. The Judiciary History Center, located in the historic Ali'iolani Hale, has exhibits on nineteenth-century legal and judicial processes that shaped the Kingdom of Hawaii and the islands' territorial years. The U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, located at Fort DeRussy on the western end of Waikiki, focuses on the history of the army in Hawaii. The Honolulu Library is located downtown and has several branches throughout Oahu.

19. Tourism

Tourism is the most important source of income in Hawaii. Honolulu and other communities have developed a sophisticated travel industry to care for visitors. Honolulu ranks first in tourist arrivals. Some of the state's most visited attractions are within its boundaries. In Oahu, most of the tourism activity is centered in the Waikiki district of Honolulu. With more than 30,000 hotel rooms, luxury resorts, expensive international restaurants and shops, and beautiful beaches, Waikiki attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

In Honolulu, and nearby, the most visited sites have military connections. The USS Arizona Memorial and Visitors Center in Pearl Harbor ranks first among visitors, while Punchbowl Crater, home of the National Memorial Cemetery and final resting place for 34,000 veterans of World War II and the Korean (195053) and Vietnam (19451973) wars, is a close second. The retired battleship USS Missouri was brought to Pearl Harbor in 1998 and has become a major visitor attraction. The Queen Emma Summer Palace also is a favorite destination. Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States, was built in 1882. It is located in downtown Honolulu.

20. Holidays and Festivals

New Year's Day
Martin Luther King's Day
Chinese New Year (January or March)

Presidents Day

Cherry Blossom Festival

Japanese Girl's Day (March 3)
Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Day (March 26)

Good Friday (the Friday before Easter)

Buddha's Birthday (April 8)
Father Damien Day (April 15)

Lei Day (May 1)
Japanese Boy's Day (May 5)
Memorial Day

King Kamehameha Day (June 11)

Independence Day (July 4)

Admission Day (anniversary of Hawaiian state-hood)
Samoan Flag Day
Obon (Japanese festival that honors deceased ancestors)

Labor Day

Aloha Week

Columbus Day

General Election Day
Veterans Day (November 11)

Pearl Harbor Day (December 7)

21. Famous Citizens

Princess Ka'iulani (187599), next in line to be queen until the overthrow ended her dreams, the Princess traveled to Washington D.C. to convince U.S. officials to restore sovereignty to Hawaii.

Queen Emma (183685), known for her charitable causes, one of Hawaii's most remarkable queens, founded hospitals and schools.

Queen Lili'uokalani (18381917), last Hawaiian monarch, overthrown in 1893.

22. For Further Study


Arizona Memorial Museum Association. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Contemporary Museum of Art. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

The Hawaii Opera. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Hawaii Theater. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

The Honolulu Academy of Arts. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Kapiolani Community College. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Oahu Transit Services, Inc. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

State Museum of Natural History. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

University of Hawaii, Manoa Campus. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Government Offices

City and County of Honolulu
Mayor's Office
530 S. King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 523-4141 Fax 527-5552

Internet page for the City and County of Honolulu. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Hawaii State Judiciary. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

The Honolulu Police Department. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Center. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).


Honolulu Advertiser. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Star Bulletin. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Honolulu Weekly. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Honolulu's business weekly. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Downtown Planet. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).

Hawaii Public Television. [Online] Available (accessed January 25, 2000).


Allen, Helena G. The Betrayal of Lili'uokalani: Last Queen of Hawaii. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing, 1990.

Ambrose, Greg. Surfer's Guide to Hawaii: Hawaii Gets All the Breaks. Honolulu: Bess Press, 1991.

Grant, Glen, Douglas Peebles (photographer). From the Skies of Paradise, Oahu. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing, 1992.

Kanahele, George S. Emma : Hawaii's Remarkable Queen. Honolulu: The Queen Emma Foundation, 1999.

Kanahele, George S. Hawaiian Music and Musicians: An Illustrated History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1979.

Kawena Pukui, Mary, Samuel H. Elbert, and Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.

Kent, Joel K. Hawaii: Islands under the Influence. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.

Linnéa, Sharon. Princess Ka'iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a People. Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cambridge: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1999.

Trask, Haunani-Kay. From A Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i. Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1999.

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Honolulu: Recreation

Honolulu: Recreation


The beauty of Honolulu's natural surroundings, its fascinating mix of cultures, and its unique layering of history offer much for the visitor to see and do. Honolulu abounds in the exotic flora and fauna of a semitropical island. The Honolulu Zoo houses an excellent collection of tropical birds as well as animals from around the world. A highlight of the zoo is the Kubuni Reserve. In this 12-acre African savanna, animals roam free within 30 different habitats. The Waikiki Aquarium has exhibits which educate and promote conservation of marine life, including coral reef environments and endangered species such as the monk seal. In 2000, the Waikiki Aquarium was designated as a Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center. At Sea Life Park, visitors can watch dolphins, penguins, and sea lions perform as well as swim with stingrays and dolphins.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa maintains the 200 acre Lyon Arboretum which offers paths and trails throughout its beautifully landscaped gardens. The Foster Botanical Garden was established in 1855 by Queen Kalama, wife of King Kamehameha III, and features a prehistoric glen planted with grasses, ferns, and palms. Other botanical gardens include Ho'omaluhia, Koko Crater, Lili'uokalani, and Wahiawa. Exotic flowers can also be seen at the Queen Kapiolani Hibiscus Garden.

A number of historic buildings are located in Honolulu. The stately Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States, although it was inhabited by Hawaiian royalty for only 11 years. Completed by King David Kalahaua in 1862, it served as a prison for Queen Liliuokalani. Honolulu's first church, the Kawaiahoa Church, was built in 1841 from blocks of coral and was the place of worship for Hawaiian rulers. The State Capitol, resembling a volcano, is designed to reflect various facets of the state of Hawaii.

The exhibits at the Hawaii Maritime Center focus on Hawaii's whaling days, the history of the Honolulu Harbor and the Falls of Clyde, a four-masted sailing ship built in 1878, which carried passengers and cargo between Honolulu and San Francisco. An underwater park is located at Hanauma Bay Beach Park where novices at snorkeling and SCUBA diving can view a coral reef. Other historical sites include Diamond Head State Monument, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the National Cemetery of the Pacific.

Arts and Culture

With a symphony, opera, theater groups, and numerous museums, Honolulu is the cultural center of the state of Hawaii. The Honolulu Symphony presents a classical concert series as well as a pop series at the Blaisdell Center Concert Hall. Also housed at Blaisdell Center is the Hawaii Opera Theater, which provides a season of grand opera and operettas. The Waikiki Shell is also a part of the Blaisdell Center and is an open-air amphitheater which hosts a variety of concerts and events. Broadway performances and dramatic classics are presented at Diamond Head Theatre and Manoa Valley Theatre, while the Kennedy Theatre at the University of Hawaii at Manoa is the site of student productions. Adjacent to the Waikiki Shell is a Hula Show Area where performances take place several times a week.

Honolulu's museums offer a range of experiences. The Bishop Museum is known for its collection of Polynesian artifacts, considered to be among the best in the world. The museum also presents hands-on exhibits and a planetarium where the constellations may be viewed as they appear from the island of Hawaii. New to the Bishop museum will be a 16,000 square-foot Science Learning Center opening in the fall of 2005. The Honolulu Academy of Arts houses permanent exhibits of oriental and occidental art, including the Kress collection of Italian Renaissance paintings and the Asian collection, featuring art and artifacts from throughout the Orient. In 2001, the museum opened its new $28 million Luce Pavilion Complex which added two 4,000-square-foot galleries. The Mission Houses Museum is comprised of the three oldest American buildings in Hawaii; the Frame house, the oldest, was built in 1821 and is furnished with period pieces that help show how the missionaries lived.

Festivals and Holidays

A number of holidays and festivals celebrating Honolulu's unique mix of cultures are held throughout the year. The Narcissus Festival, in January or early February, marks the Chinese New Year with lion dances and pageants. The Cherry Blossom Festival runs from January to March and is the largest running ethnic celebration in the state. A highlight of the event is the selection of a Cherry Blossom Queen and Court. Prince Kuhio Day on March 26, a state holiday, is held in honor of the prince who served in the U.S. Congress for 20 years. The Honolulu Festival takes place in March and celebrates ethnic harmony. The Hawaii Invitational International Music Festival occurs in April with high school, junior high, and college band participants. Lei Day on May 1st is one of Honolulu's most popular unofficial holidays; festivities include hula dances, contests for the best lei, and the crowning of the Lei Queen. The Hawaii State Fair occurs on weekends from mid-May through mid-June at the Aloha Stadium. The Pan Pacific-Matsuri Festival held in June promotes cultural exchange between Hawaiian and Japanese cultures. In addition to dance, art, and music, the Festival includes a golf open and a half marathon run. The King Kamehameha Celebration, a state holiday observed on June 11, honors the king who united the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaii International Jazz Festival held in late July celebrates Jazz with international artist. The Ukulele Festival held annually in July presents a variety of ukulele players during free concerts. The Japan Festival is celebrated in July; nearly one-third of Honolulu's population is Japanese. The Prince Lot Hula Festival in July showcases ancient and modern versions of the dance at Queen Kapiolani Bandstand. The Aloha Festival, observed for one week between the beginning of September through mid-October, celebrates Makahiki, the traditional harvest time when taxes were paid, with pageants and street parties known as Ho'olaule'a. The Annual Orchid Show in late October shows thousands of varieties of plants and flowers, especially the exotic orchids which grow in the area. The Hawaii International Film Festival in late November and early December brings together award-winning film directors from the nations which border the Pacific Ocean.

Sports for the Spectator

Honolulu sports fans enjoy a variety of college sports, which include baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, golf, tennis, and track and field. The NFL Pro Bowl is held in February each year at the Aloha Stadium. The American Basketball Association is opening a new franchise in Honolulu for the 2005-2006 season. Spectators can also enjoy car racing at Hawaii Raceway Park.

Sports for the Participant

Honolulu's Waikiki beach draws more visitors than any other beach on the island, offering a host of water sports such as swimming, sailing, snorkeling, surfing, scuba diving, kayaking, or outrigger canoeing. Scuba equipment, surfboard and windsurf boards can be rented; lessons are also available. Charter boats for deep-sea fishing can be rented; during spring and summer there are particularly rich runs of game fish such as marlin and tuna.

Honolulu is also popular for hang gliding and parasailing. Visitors can take helicopter tours or go whale watching. Other activities include hiking, jogging, biking, horseback riding, tennis, and golf. Thousands of runners convene in Honolulu in December for the 26.2 mile Honolulu Marathon. The Honolulu Triathlon takes place every year in April.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping is a pleasurable pastime in Honolulu. Located in the city is Ala Moana, one of the largest open-air shopping centers in the world with more than 240 stores and dining and entertainment venues. Hotels along the beach in Waikiki are full of shops, and downtown Fort Street has been converted into a pedestrian mall. Also located within the city are the Royal Hawaiian and the Kahala Mall Shopping Centers. The Cultural Plaza in Chinatown Historic District features a variety of ethnic shops and stores. Temari, a center for Asian and Pacific arts that is not actually a store, offers two- to three-hour workshops to visitors. The former Dole Pineapple Cannery now houses retail shops oriented toward tourists. The newly developed Aloha Tower Market Place next to the Hawaii Maritime Center offers many shops and restaurants catering to tourists.

Honolulu cuisine is truly international. Hawaiian specialties include mahimahi (dolphin fish), poi (rounded taro root), and puaa kalua (a whole pig slow-roasted in a pit). Local restaurants offer a range of Oriental foodsChinese, Japanese, Thai, and Koreanas well as European fare such as French, German, and Italian. Restaurants also serve popular Cajun and Creole dishes.

Visitor Information: Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, 2270 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite 801, Honolulu, HI 96815; telephone (808)923-1811; toll-free (800)GO HAWAII (464-2924); fax (808)923-0293.

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Honolulu: Economy

Honolulu: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Honolulu began its economic life in the mid-nineteenth century as a port for whalers; it was also a trade center for nations bordering the Pacific, dealing in such goods as sandalwood, whale oil, and fur. While markets for sandalwood and whale oil decreased, sugar and pineapple markets increased dramatically. In fact, the powerful sugar industry, owned mainly by Americans, engineered the downfall of Hawaii's last monarch and the islands' annexation by the United States. Today, one-fifth of the land in Honolulu County is zoned for agriculture, but fields are now giving way to new homes and commercial development. With the closure of sugar plantations, challenges arise to find the most productive use for these lands. Diversified agriculture has been on a steady upward trend. Aquaculture, which includes cultivated species of shellfish, finfish and algae, has grown in recent years. In 2002, Honolulu county had 30 aquaculture operations which produced $4.2 million in sales.

In addition to serving as the business and trading hub of the Hawaiian Islands, Honolulu is the transportation crossroads of the Pacific, connecting East with West. The city's recently expanded harbor facilities handle cargo for several international steamship companies, and a Foreign Trade Zone is based there. Other important elements of Honolulu's economic base include tourism, military defense, research and development, and manufacturing. With millions of visitors coming each year to enjoy Honolulu's climate and beaches, tourism contributes $10 billion annually to the local economy. Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Marine Base Kaneohe, and Schofield Barracks Army base provide revenues that are unaffected by the normal business cycle. As the home of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu is a center for research and development, especially in the areas of oceanography, astrophysics, geophysics, and biomedicine. The city and county of Honolulu also contains many commercial, industrial and retail properties.

Items and goods produced: jewelry, clothing, food and beverages, rubber products, construction materials, and electronics and computer equipment

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

State programs

State programs available include direct financial incentives such as Industrial Development Bonds, a Capital Loan Program, the Urban Honolulu Enterprise Zone Program, customized industrial training, and investment of public funds in return for equity or ownership positions in private businesses. Also at the state level, tax incentives for technology-related companies are available through 2010 with the extension of Hawaii's Act 215 relating to capital investment.

Job training programs

The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations oversees One-Stop Workforce Assistance Centers, a job placement and training system to help people find work and employers find suitable workers, and the Employment & Training Fund (ETF), a job skills upgrade program for current workers. Employers can receive customized training grants for their workplace or they can nominate a current worker for an established training course.

Development Projects

With available research centers at the University of Hawaii as well as the area's defense contracting industry, Honolulu is looking to diversify its economy in the following areas; alternate energies, astronomy and space sciences, defense-dual use technologies, diversified agriculture, information and communication technologies, life science-biotech, and marine sciences. The film and digital media industry is growing and is supported by the City and County Honolulu Film Office.

A private and local government-supported "Second City," Kapolei, is constructed in an area 20 miles from downtown Honolulu. The Kapolei region contains the state's largest industrial park and second busiest commercial harbor. New amenities to the area include shopping centers, golf courses, parks, and the Hawaiian Waters Adventures Park.

Hawaii is ranked first in investment money coming from Asia to finance real estate projects and other industries. In 2001, Hawaii received $9.95 billion in foreign investment from Asia.

A $300 million Waikiki Beach Walk redevelopment project will rejuvenate walkways, hotels, retail complexes and entertainment areas along one of the most visited beaches in Honolulu. A four-year $200 million renovation is planned for Honolulu International Airport.

Economic Development Information: The Office of Economic Development, 530 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813; telephone (808)547-7878; fax (808)547-7808

Commercial Shipping

Honolulu's location in the mid-Pacific makes it a major stopover for trans-Pacific sea and air shipments. Honolulu Harbor has a highly successful Foreign Trade Zone and 10 major shipping companies serving the port. The harbor also has terminals for commercial fishing, cruise ships, and ferries.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Honolulu County's four major industry sectors are government; trade, transportation, and utilities; leisure and hospitality; and professional and business services. These four industries account for about two-thirds of the total employment in Honolulu County. Services and trade are considered the two largest growth industries for the County.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Honolulu metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 428,800

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 20,400

manufacturing: 12,000

trade, transportation and utilities: 79,300

information: 8,900

financial activities: 22,100

professional and business services: 57,200

leisure and hospitality: 60,500

educational and health services: 53,300

other services: 19,000

government: 95,700

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.66

Unemployment rate: 2.8% (January 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
U.S. Government 91,850
City and County of Honolulu 11,350
Queen's Medical Center 3,000
Bank of Hawaii 2,500

Cost of Living

Because land is scarce and tourist development has driven up the cost of living, Hawaii is one of the top ranking states in housing costs. About 65 percent of housing in Honolulu is condominiums. The median single family home resale price in 2002 was $335,000. Housing rentals, fuel, and food costs are among the highest in the country. These conditions force many Hawaiians to work two or three jobs to survive, ranking it second in the nation for multiple part-time employment.

The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Honolulu area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $673,932

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 168.2 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.4% to 8.25%

State sales tax rate: 4.0%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: Levied by state

Property tax rate: $3.75$5.72 per $1,000 valuation (residential)

Economic Information: Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, 1132 Bishop St. Suite 402, Honolulu, HI 96813; telephone (808)545-4300; fax (808)545-4369

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Honolulu: History

Honolulu: History

Native Hawaiians Meet Westerners, Begin Trading Goods

Historians estimate that the first settlers, Polynesians, came to the Hawaiian Islands fifteen hundred years ago, with the last migration occurring around 750 A.D. By the time Westerners came to the islands, the Hawaiian people had developed a highly structured society composed of chiefs, who claimed the right of divine rule, and commoners, who worked the land and the sea.

British Captain James Cook first sighted Oahu in 1778, when he named the islands the Sandwich Islands after the Earl of Sandwich. William Brown was the first to enter Honolulu's harbor, in 1794. In 1795, King Kamehameha I unified the Hawaiian Islands, conquering the king of Oahu. Kamehameha settled at Waikiki, turning the harbor at Honolulu into a center of trade with the West for such goods as fur, sandalwood, and whale products. While bringing the islands into the modern world, such trade also threatened the native Hawaiian culture.

Rise of Sugar Industry Erodes Traditional Way of Life

Honolulu was such a convenient center of trade between the Orient and the West that it became the seat of a series of European occupations: Russia in 1816, England in 1843, and France in 1849. New England missionaries began arriving in 1820; some of their buildings, preserved by the Mission Houses Museum, can be seen today. The missionaries established schools and also functioned as government advisors to the royal Hawaiians. During the mid-nineteenth century the whaling industry began to decline and the sugar industry grew. The cultivation of sugar cane brought in a great influx of immigrant labor from throughout the Pacific basin; the descendants of these peoples are partially responsible for modern Honolulu's cosmopolitanism. A 1876 treaty that admitted sugar duty-free into the United States strengthened the power of this industry.

King Kamehameha III proclaimed Honolulu as the capitol city in 1850. The territorial legislature created county level governments in 1905. Incorporated that year, the County of Oahu included that island plus all the small islands beyond Niihau to but not including Midway Island 2,000 miles away. In 1907 the county was renamed the City and County of Honolulu.

At the time Honolulu was named the capitol city, traditional Hawaiian life was breaking down. The islands were basically ruled by the sugar interests consisting of an oligarchy of plantation owners. Native customs were declining both through the breakdown of taboos and the introduction of guns and liquor. Furthermore, the Hawaiian people were not immune to diseases brought to them by the Westerners; within a hundred years of the islands' discovery by the West, 80 percent of the native population was dead. The language and history of the Hawaiians is nevertheless preserved, partly through native dance and folklore.

In 1893 Queen Liliuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, was deposed by a group of American businessmen and U.S. Marines, and in 1898 the islands were annexed by the United States. In 1907 Honolulu was incorporated as a city and county. Through the efforts of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, a member of Congress from 1902 to 1922, Pearl Harbor was dredged, extending the sea power of the United States. On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, but it survived to become the most important staging area for the United States in the Pacific during World War II. The area around Honolulu is still an important constellation of military bases.

Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959 and joined the Union as the 50th state with Honolulu as its capital. Today Honolulu is the Aloha state's center of business, culture, and politics. In recent years, Hawaiian sovereignty has become a contested political issue. In 1993 President Clinton signed an official apology acknowledging the U.S. role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom. A 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision addressed the issue of sovereignty and the elections of government officials in Hawaii. In 2005, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act was reintroduced in the House and Senate. The legislation calls for the U.S. government to recognize Native Hawaiians as it does American Indians and Native Alaskans. The legislation would also provide a process by which the U.S. recognizes the Native Hawaiian governing entity.

Historical Information: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Library, 1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, HI 96817; telephone (808)847-3511; fax (808)841-8968

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HONOLULU. Honolulu, the capital of the state of Hawaii, is on the southeast coast of the island of Oahu. Its name means "sheltered harbor." This "crossroads of the Pacific" between the Americas and Asia is an export-import site for goods and people.

As a consequence of high-rise construction, Honolulu is America's most crowded city. According to the 2000 Census, about 80 percent (876,156) of Hawaii's residents live in Honolulu's 60 square miles. This is about 1,460 persons per square mile, compared to 79.6 persons per square mile in the United States overall. This ranks Honolulu among the fifty largest U.S. cities, and counties and fifty-first largest Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area.

More than 21 percent of Honolulu's residents are foreign born. (Only Los Angeles and New York City have higher percentages.) English is a second language for more than 26 percent. Twenty-one percent are white and 10 percent are Hispanic, African American, or Native American. More than 65 percent are Asian. The largest Asian immigrant populations are Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

Diversity is not new. Tahitians arrived in pre-recorded history, mixing with already-present islanders. The British discovered the bay settlement in 1794. Honolulu became a world hub for traders, whalers, and fishermen. Western missionaries followed in the 1820s; Chinese and Filipino plantation laborers came in the 1830s. By 1884, Honolulu's Chinatown had five thousand inhabitants and Chinese owned 60 percent of wholesale and retail establishments and 85 percent of restaurants. Military occupations—Russian (1816), British (1843), and French (1849)—added variety. From 1845, Honolulu was home to Hawaii's monarchy. American investors moved in after the treaty of reciprocity between Hawaii and the United States in 1875.

Incorporated as a city in 1907, Honolulu is the state's commercial and industrial hub and the headquarters for county, state, and regional federal government institutions. Its economy is tied to Asian and American markets. Military installations, including Pearl Harbor naval base, are important strategically and economically; Japan considered Pearl Harbor important enough to bomb in 1941. Honolulu International Airport is among the busiest U.S. airports. Tourism contributes to skyscraper hotels, shopping centers, and retail businesses. Honolulu harbor bustles with luxury cruise liners, freighters, and intra-island barges. Extensive docks and warehouses serve pineapple canneries, sugar refineries, garment manufacturers, dairy enterprises, and aluminum, cement, oil, and steel industries.

Educational institutions—the University of Hawaii, Chaminade University, and Hawaii Pacific University—contribute to research and development industries in astronomy, biomedicine, geophysics, oceanography, and satellite communications. World-class cultural institutions include Bishop Museum, a premier resource for Pacific culture studies; the Honolulu Academy of Arts, among the world's most beautiful museums; and the Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States.

A temperate climate of from seventy-two to seventy-eight degrees year-round supports agriculture and out-door recreation. But like most cities in the early twenty-first century, Honolulu faces environmental and social issues such as urban sprawl, water quality, and open space preservation.


Beechert, Edward D. Honolulu: Crossroads of the Pacific. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.

Stone, Scott C. S. Honolulu: Heart of Hawaii. Tulsa, Okla.: Continental Heritage Press, 1983.

Ellen SueBlakey

See alsoAsian Americans ; Hawaii ; Pearl Harbor .

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Honolulu: Education and Research

Honolulu: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Hawaii is the only state with a single, unified statewide school system, comprised of seven districts, four on the island of Oahu and three on the neighbor islands. The four districts on Oahu are in the city and county of Honolulu; metropolitan Honolulu falls in the Honolulu District. An elected board of education formulates educational policy and supervises the public school system. Seven members are elected according to geographic region and six are elected at-large. One non-voting student member is appointed.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Honolulu District public schools as of the 20042005 school year.

Total enrollment: 32,454

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 39

intermediate schools: 9

senior high schools: 6

other: 3

Student/teacher ratio: elementary and secondary, 16.8:1 (statewide average)

Teacher salaries (statewide average)

minimum: $29,000

maximum: $58,000

Funding per pupil: $7,455 (statewide average 2002-2003)

A variety of private and special education schools are licensed by the state and serve the school-age population.

Public and Private Schools Information: Department of Education, 1390 Miller St., PO Box 2360, Honolulu, HI 96804; telephone (808)586-3230

Colleges and Universities

More than 53,000 students are enrolled in area higher education institutions. The University of Hawaii at Manoa, with an enrollment of more than 22,300 students, offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. It is especially known for its programs in the marine sciences, tropical agriculture, geophysics, astronomy, and Asian and Pacific cultures. On the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa is the East-West Center, which is an institution of technical and cultural exchange with Asian and Pacific countries.

Chaminade University of Honolulu is a small, private institution affiliated with the Society of Mary of the Roman Catholic Church. Also located in Honolulu is Hawaii Pacific University, Hawaii's largest private university. There are four community colleges.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Hawaii State Public Library System is based in Honolulu and operates 50 libraries throughout the state. Holdings consist of more than two million volumes (more than 1.5 million housed on Oahu) as well as newspapers, magazines, tapes, films, and special collections including Hawaiian history and state and federal documents. The system also maintains the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, located in Honolulu.

Specialized libraries are affiliated with local colleges and universities, government agencies, hospitals, and corporations. Research activities in such fields as agriculture, livestock, the environment, freshwater and marine ecology, marine biology, marine mammalogy, water resources, cancer, biomedicine, astronomy, geophysics, labor, and industrial relations are conducted primarily by the University of Hawaii and federal government agencies.

Public Library Information: Hawaii State Public Library System, 478 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813; telephone (808)586-3500

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Honolulu (hŏn´əlōō´lōō, hōnō–), city (1990 pop. 365,272), capital of the state of Hawaii and seat of Honolulu co., on the southeast coast of the island of Oahu. The city and county are legally coextensive, and both are governed by the same mayor and council. With ship and air connections to the U.S. mainland, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, Honolulu is the crossroads of the Pacific, as well as the economic center and principal port of the Hawaiian Islands. The city is famous for its beauty and the variety of its ethnic groups. It lies on a narrow plain between the sea and the Koolau Range and climbs the slopes of Punchbowl.

Bypassed by Capt. James Cook when he explored the islands in 1778, Honolulu's harbor was entered in 1794 by William Brown, an English captain. Honolulu's history from 1820, when missionaries arrived on the islands, is much the same as that of Hawaii. Growing from a settlement of mud huts into the main residence of Hawaiian royalty and later of foreign consuls, Honolulu became the permanent capital of the kingdom of Hawaii in 1845. In the 19th cent., American and European whalers and sandalwood traders visited its port, and Honolulu was occupied successively by Russian, British, and French forces. It remained Hawaii's capital when the islands were annexed by the United States in 1898 and achieved statehood in 1959. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the naval base at Honolulu, on Dec. 7, 1941, and during World War II the port became a strategic naval base and a staging area for U.S. forces in the Pacific.

Since the war, a rise in tourism, diversification of industry, and construction of luxury hotels and housing developments have made Honolulu the business and population center of Hawaii. Increased peacetime defense activity at the many military installations in the area (Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Schofield Barracks, and Camp H. M. Smith, headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command), expansion of harbor facilities, and the completion of an international airport further aided the city's growth. Honolulu's other industries include jewelry, printing and publishing, clothing, food and beverages, rubber products, construction materials, and electronics and computer equipment. Major redevelopment of the Honolulu Harbor area was undertaken in the 1990s.

The largest of Honolulu's parks is Kapiolani, containing a zoo, an aquarium, and Waikiki Shell, where the Honolulu Symphony gives concerts. The Honolulu Botanical Gardens consists of four gardens in and around the city. Also in Honolulu is the Arizona Memorial for the 1,100 who died during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Notable institutions are the Univ. of Hawaii; the Bishop Museum, noted for its studies of Polynesia; the Honolulu Academy of Arts, known for its Asian and Hawaiian collections; and Kawaiahao Church (1841), where funerals for Hawaiian monarchs and nobility were held. Iolani Palace, the former home of Hawaii's kings, is the only royal palace in the United States. The beach at Waikiki is especially noted for bathing and surfing. The famous Diamond Head crater is nearby.

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Honolulu: Population Profile

Honolulu: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 763,000

1990: 836,231

2000: 876,156

Percent change, 19902000: 4.8%

U.S. rank in 1980: 47th

U.S. rank in 1990: 51st (State rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 55th

City Residents

1980: 365,048

1990: 377,059

2000: 371,657

2003 estimate: 380,149

Percent change, 19902000: -1.4%

U.S. rank in 1980: 36th

U.S. rank in 1990: 44th (State rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 55th

Density: 4,336.6 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 73,093

Black or African American: 6,038

American Indian and Alaska Native: 689

Asian: 207,588

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 25,457

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 16,229

Other: 3,318

Percent of residents born in state: 52.5% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 18,896

Population 5 to 9 years old: 20,440

Population 10 to 14 years old: 19,915

Population 15 to 19 years old: 21,098

Population 20 to 24 years old: 24,346

Population 25 to 34 years old: 53,911

Population 35 to 44 years old: 57,175

Population 45 to 54 years old: 53,649

Population 55 to 59 years old: 20,128

Population 60 to 64 years old: 15,842

Population 65 to 74 years old: 32,445

Population 75 to 84 years old: 25,694

Population 85 years and over: 8,118

Median age: 39.7 years

Births (2002)

Total number: 13,166 (City and County of Honolulu)

Deaths (2002)

Total number: 6,557 (City and County of Honolulu)

Money Income (1999)

Per capita income: $24,191

Median household income: $45,112

Total number: 140,401

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 13,795

$10,000 to $14,999: 7,218

$15,000 to $24,999: 15,912

$25,000 to $34,999: 17,065

$35,000 to $49,999: 22,545

$50,000 to $74,999: 24,824

$75,000 to $99,999: 15,188

$100,000 to $149,999: 14,321

$150,000 to $199,999: 5,014

$200,000 and over: 4,519

Percent of families below poverty level: 7.9% (36.3% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 57,271

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Honolulu: Communications

Honolulu: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Honolulu's daily newspapers are The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. There are also several non-English papers serving Honolulu. Honolulu Magazine features topics and events of local interest. Among the nearly 50 periodicals published in Honolulu are Bamboo Ridge, The Hawaii Writers' Quarterly, a literary magazine;Biography, a journal acting as a forum for learned articles dealing with life-writing; Building Management Hawaii and China Review International. Business publications includeHawaii Business and Pacific Business News.

Television and Radio

Eleven commercial television stations and one public station broadcast from Honolulu; cable service is also available. Thirty-five FM and AM radio stations broadcast in Honolulu; several offer multilingual programming.

Media Information: The Honolulu Advertiser, telephone (808)525-8090; fax (808)525-8037. Honolulu Star-Bulletin, telephone (808)529-4747; fax (808)529-4750

Honolulu Online

Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. Available www.coc

City and County of Honolulu. Available

Hawaii Department of Education. Available

Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Available

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. Available

Honolulu Advertiser. Available

Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Available

Oahu Visitors Bureau. Available

Social and economic trends. Available

State of Hawaii. Available

Selected Bibliography

Cowing, Sue, ed., Fire in the Sea: An Anthology of Poetry and Art (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press in association with the Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1996)

Penisten, John, Honolulu (Minneapolis, MN: Dillon Press, 1989)

Twain, Mark, Letters from Honolulu (Honolulu: T. Nickerson,1939)

Tyau, Kathleen, A Little Too Much Is Enough (New York: Norton,1995)

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Honolulu: Introduction
Honolulu: Geography and Climate
Honolulu: History
Honolulu: Population Profile
Honolulu: Municipal Government
Honolulu: Economy
Honolulu: Education and Research
Honolulu: Health Care
Honolulu: Recreation
Honolulu: Convention Facilities
Honolulu: Transportation
Honolulu: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1100 (by Hawaiians); 1795 (incorporated, 1907)

Head Official: Mayor Mufi Hannemann (since 2005)

City Population

1980: 365,048

1990: 377,059

2000: 371,657

2003 estimate: 380,149 (Honolulu CDP)

Percent change, 19902000: -1.4%

U.S. rank in 1980: 36th

U.S. rank in 1990: 44th

U.S. rank in 2000: 55th

City and County Population

1980: 763,000

1990: 836,231

2000: 876,156

Percent change, 19902000: 4.8%

U.S. rank in 1980: 47th

U.S. rank in 1990: 51st

U.S. rank in 2000: 55th

Area: 86 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 15 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 77.2° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 22.02 inches

Major Economic Sectors: Services (especially tourism), military, agriculture, construction

Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (January 2005)

Per Capita Income: $24,191 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 57,271

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Hawaii at Manoa, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University, Brigham Young University-Hawaii

Daily Newspapers: The Honolulu Advertiser; Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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Honolulu: Transportation

Honolulu: Transportation

Approaching the City

Isolated from the mainland, Honolulu is reached primarily by plane. Honolulu International Airport, a major center for Pacific air travel, is served by 31 domestic and foreign airlines as well as inter-island carriers. Hawaii's Department of Transportation is arranging for the airport to undergo a terminal modernization project. Honolulu may also be reached by ship; cruise lines sail regularly between Honolulu and SanFrancisco.

Traveling in the City

Because of the irregular shape of the city, Honolulu residents define directions according to landmarks such as the mountains and the sea rather than standard compass orientations.

TheBus, owned by the City and County of Honolulu but operated separately, provides public transportation to the entire island on a fleet on 525 buses. Oahu Transit Service also has a fleet of 100 buses equipped to transport people with disabilities. The Waikiki Trolley Service, with a fleet of 50 trolleys, provides transportation to shopping centers, museums, and other points of interest.

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Honolulu: Geography and Climate

Honolulu: Geography and Climate

Honolulu as a city is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as the area from Makapuu south of the Koolau Mountain range summit to the western edge of Halawa Valley. Located along the southern coast of Oahu, Honolulu is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, just south of the Tropic of Cancer in the Pacific Ocean. The city is situated on a narrow plain between the ocean and the Koolau mountain range; it climbs the Punchbowl, an extinct volcano. Although the climate is semi-tropical, the trade winds usually keep the city comfortable, until the "kona" or south-erly winds blow for a few weeks in the summer. Honolulu's weather exhibits the least seasonal change of any city in the United States, with only a few degrees difference between winter and summer.

Area: 86 square miles (2000) (City and county area in 2000: 600 square miles)

Elevation: 15 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 72.9° F; August, 81.4° F; annual average, 77.2° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 22.02 inches

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Honolulu: Convention Facilities

Honolulu: Convention Facilities

Honolulu's principal meeting facility is the beautiful four-story Hawaii Convention Center, which offers a 200,000-square-foot ground floor exhibition hall; a second floor exclusively for parking with 700 parking stalls; a third floor with 107,426 square feet of meeting room space that can be configured into 47 meeting rooms; and a grand ballroom and rooftop garden on the fourth floor. Inside, a $2 million Hawaiian art collection with paintings of volcanoes, mountains, ocean, waterfalls, taro, and fishponds are displayed alongside images of Hawaiian royalty, gods, and myths; above, soaring rooftop canopies recall images of Polynesian sailing canoes. The building is open to the outdoors and sits on landscaped grounds featuring terraces, lanais, and courtyards that occupy more than six acres of the 10-acre site.

Convention Information: Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, 2270 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite 801, Honolulu, HI 96815; telephone (808)923-1811; fax (808)923-0293

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Honolulu: Health Care

Honolulu: Health Care

The city and county of Honolulu is served by eight major hospitals. The Queen's Medical Center in downtown Honolulu is the largest private hospital in the state, with 505 acute care beds and 28 sub-acute care beds. Cardiac rehabilitation centers are maintained at Kaukini Medical Center and Tripler Army Medical Center. The University of Hawaii is constructing a Health and Wellness Center at the new Kaka'ako campus which will house the John A. Burns School of Medicine, the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, and a biomedical technology research park. Gamma Knife technology has recently become available at the St. Francis Medical Center. More than 16,000 primary care physicians, specialty care physicians, nurses, and medical technicians serve the Honolulu area.

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Honolulu: Introduction

Honolulu: Introduction

Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii and the seat of Honolulu county, is a cosmopolitan city. Its name means "protected harbor," and it serves as the crossroads of the Pacific Ocean with ship and air connections to the U.S. mainland, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The city is the principal port for the Hawaiian Islands and an important center for military defense with several bases, including Pearl Harbor Naval Base, located in the area. Millions of visitors are drawn annually to Honolulu's mild, semitropical climate and to the beautiful beaches of Waikiki.

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Honolulu: Municipal Government

Honolulu: Municipal Government

The city of Honolulu and the county of Honolulu are administered jointly by a mayor-council form of government. The mayor and nine council members serve a four-year term.

Head Official: Mayor Mufi Hanneman (since 2005; current term expires 2009)

Total Number of City and County Employees: 11,350 (2005)

City Information: Mayor's Office, 530 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813; telephone (808)523-4141; fax (808)527-5552

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Honolulu Capital and chief port of Hawaii, on se Oahu Island. It became the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1845, and remained the capital after the annexation of the islands by the USA in 1898. Landmarks include the Iolani Palace, Waikiki Beach, and the Diamond Head Crater. There are two universities and several colleges. Tourism is of major importance. Industries: sugar refining, pineapple canning. Pop. (2000) 371,657. See also Pearl Harbor

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"Honolulu." World Encyclopedia. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

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Honolulu •Yalu • igloo • Oulu •Honolulu, KwaZulu, lulu, Zulu •Pagalu • Angelou • ormolu •superglue • curlew

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