Hawaii (HI) is the only U.S. state that is not geographically located in North America. It is also the only U.S. state that is an archipelago, comprised of 8 main islands and completely surrounded by water. Hawaii is located 2,000 miles southwest of the contiguous United States and is the southernmost U.S. state and the second westernmost after Alaska. HI, like Alaska, has the distinction of not being bordered by any other U.S state.
The Hawaiian Islands were formed by undersea volcanic activity. Hawaii Island (locally known as the “Big Island”) is the third-highest point among the world’s islands. HI is known for its breathtaking and species-diverse scenery. The warm, tropical climate and beautiful beaches make it a popular destination for surfers, tourists and biologists. Because of its location in the Pacific, Hawaii’s population is a blend of North American and Asian cultures, in addition to its indigenous Hawaiian culture. HI has over a million permanent residents, along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. The capital of HI is Honolulu, which is on the island of Oahu.
The culture of HI is Polynesian. HI is the 8th-smallest and the 11th-least populated state in America, but the 13th-most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. The state’s coastline is about 750 miles long, the fourth longest in the U.S. after the coastlines of Alaska, Florida, and California. The official languages of HI are English and Hawaiian.
Christianity is the most widespread religion in HI, represented by various Protestants, Catholics and Mormons. Buddhism is the second most popular religion, especially among the archipelago’s Japanese community.
Hawaii is well-known for its national parks and monuments. One of its most famous monuments is the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on Oahu. Several areas in HI are under the protection of the National Park Service.
Hawaii’s economic history came from whaling, sugarcane, pineapple, military, tourism and education. In 1959, when HI became a state, tourism has been the overwhelming industry. Although Hawaiian exporting plays a small role in Hawaii’s gross state product, there is a small export industry that includes food and clothing. The state’s main food exports include coffee, macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, sugarcane and honey.
Hawaii’s climate is typically tropical and generally stays in the 80’s. This climate is found to be desired by most tourists and because of the trade winds from the east, the climate tends to be low on humidity with pleasant breezes.
The cost of living in Hawaii, specifically Honolulu, is considered high compared to that of most major U.S. cities. Due to the additional distance from the contiguous U.S., travel costs and additional shipping fees can make certain items more expensive. Hawaii residents also pay the most per person in state taxes in the United States.
Interestingly, a 2012 Gallup poll found that Hawaii had the largest percentage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults in the U.S., at 5.1%, comprising an estimated adult LGBT population of 53,966 individuals. The number of same-sex couple households in 2010 was 3,239; a 35.5% increase of figures from a decade earlier. In 2013, Hawaii became the fifteenth U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.