Hawaii


Out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean there lies a chain of islands called Hawaii. The isolated location of the Hawaiian Islands has caused the people who live there to develop a highly unique culture as well as a fascinating history. Hawaii is situated near many different countries such as Japan, the United States, and the group of islands called Polynesia. Because of this, the island’s ethnic background is very diverse. Its location relative to other very large and powerful nations has also contributed a lot to its fascinating historical background.


The location of Hawaii is particularly unusual due to the fact that it was formed in the middle of the ocean and not at the edge of a tectonic plate, where most of the world’s volcanic activity takes place. Actually, Hawaii really is in the middle of nowhere, in the large expanse of ocean separating Asia and North America. The way Hawaii came to be was due to something called a “hot spot” which exists below the earth’s crust, unaffected by continental drift. A hot spot is a place in the earth where the magma and molten lava of the earth’s core will seep up through the layers of the earth and break through cracks in the oceanic crust. The lava will cool, and more will seep up to build on top of the last deposit. The cooled magma will eventually form islands and seamounts, islands below sea level, over the course of millions of years. The volcanoes that created the Hawaiian Islands in this way still exist today, given names by the Hawaiians such as Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.


The ways of the Hawaiian people are unlike any other existing people in the world today. The Hawaiians spoke a very unique language, which had a similar alphabet to the English language except with much fewer consonants. The Hawaiians passed down their history and ways using oral tradition which was aided by the dance, chant, and song. One such custom that is very uniquely Hawaiian is the Kapu system. Kapu decreed the foods and animals that were off limits and other important laws that maintained the social classes of Hawaii. The creators of these unique laws came primarily from Polynesia, and since their arrival to Hawaii, other nations have since followed them.


The arrival of non-islanders to Hawaii greatly altered the ways of the occupants of those exceptional islands. Before Americans and Europeans began to flock to Hawaii, the lives of the Hawaiian people revolved around a monarchy. The first of the Kamehameha line did something none had ever done before. He united the Hawaiian islands. Later descendents the Kamehameha line broke the Kapu system, creating more equality between the men and the women. Long after the Kamehameha line died out, the queen Lili’uokalani ascended the throne. By this point in the Hawaiian’s history, foreign influence was building and building until the Americans virtually took over the islands. Finally, Hawaii was made the 50th state in 1959.


Much changed when Hawaii finally became the last state to join the United States. The interesting religion and daily life of the Hawaiians was altered forever. Their history has become American History. And so, from the abnormal creation of the islands themselves, to the immigration of countless people from countless places, to the unusual society and the rules that withheld it, Hawaii has proved to be one of the most unique places on the planet.