Hawaii has a tropical-rainy climate, with the north and east slopes receiving the most rain. The west and south slopes are much drier; the Kau Desert is in S Hawaii. Temperatures decrease with elevation; Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are usually snow-covered in winter. Vegetation varies from tropical rain forest to grasslands to barren volcanic areas. The island's principal agricultural industries are forestry and macadamia nut production. The Kona district of W Hawaii is the coffee belt of the United States and is also known for its health resorts and offshore deep-sea fishing.
Hilo, on the east coast, is the island's largest city and chief port and is the county seat. A highway, linking the coastal towns, encircles the island. At Kealakekua Bay there is a monument to Capt. James Cook, the first English explorer to visit (1778) the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park are on Hawaii (see National Parks and Monuments, table). All over the island heiaus (ancient temples) are found.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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