First settled by Polynesians sailing from other Pacific islands between A.D. 300 and 600, Hawaii was visited in 1778 by British captain James Cook, who called the group the Sandwich Islands.
Hawaii was a native kingdom throughout most of the 19th century, when the expansion of the sugar industry (pineapple came after 1898) meant increasing U.S. business and political involvement. In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani was deposed, and a year later the Republic of Hawaii was established with Sanford B. Dole as president. Following annexation (1898), Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900 and finally a state in 1959.
Hawaii, 2,397 mi west-southwest of San Francisco, is a 1,523-mile chain of islets and eight main islands—Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, other than Midway, are administratively part of Hawaii.
The temperature is mild in Hawaii. Cane sugar, pineapple, and flowers and nursery products are their chief products. Hawaii also grows coffee beans, bananas, and macadamia nuts. The tourist business is Hawaii's largest source of outside income.
Among the major points of interest are Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii), Haleakala National Park (Maui), Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (Hawaii), Polynesian Cultural Center (Oahu), the USS Arizona and USS Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor, The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Oahu), and Iolani Palace (the only royal palace in the U.S.), Bishop Museum, and Waikiki Beach (all in Honolulu).
In 2008, Hawaii-born Barack Obama was elected president of the United States.
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Selected famous natives and residents:
- Salevaa Atisanoe (Konishiki) sumo wrestler;
- George Ariyoshi first Japanese-American elected governor;
- Angela Perez Baraquio Miss America (2001);
- Tia Carrere singer, actress;
- Steve Case business executive;
- Father Damien priest;
- Hiram L. Fong first Chinese-American senator;
- Don Ho entertainer;
- Daniel Ken Inouye congressman;
- Kaahumanu Hawaiian queen;
- Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Olympic swimming champion;
- Kamehameha I first Hawaiian king;
- Kamehameha V last of the dynasty;
- Liliuokalani queen, last Hawaiian monarch;
- Bette Midler singer;
- Barack Obama U.S. President;
- Ellison Onizuka astronaut;
- Chad Rowan (Akebono) sumo wrestler;
- Harold Sakata actor;
- Carolyn Suzanne Sapp Miss America (1991);
- James Shigeta actor;
- Don Stroud actor;
- John Waihee first Hawaiian elected governor;
- Michelle Wie professional golfer.