In modern times the U.S. State of Hawaii is certainly one of the premier travel destinations on the planet, and to quote the American author, Mark Twain, Hawaii is the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean..."
That said, the first inhabitants to set foot here sometime around 500 AD, were not on holiday, but rather wandering Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands, looking for new land and new beginnings.
500 years later the Tahitians also discovered these beautiful islands, and through the entire 13th century thousands of immigrants from Tahiti made the long, perilous journey across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.
In 1778, the famed British explorer Captain James Cook arrived in this paradise, and he named this yet uncharted archipelago the Sandwich Islands, in honor of the Earl of Sandwich. Captain Cook was first revered as a God (of sorts) by the natives, but later he was stabbed to death on the Big Island.
Shortly thereafter, the reign of 'King Kamehameha the Great' began. He established a monarchy, united the islands into one great kingdom and began trading with western ships. Soon the potential bounty of Hawaii spread far and wide.
Mariners by the score found their way here, and in the early 1800's whaling ships were anchored in Hawaiian ports as the islands were now ground-zero for the Pacific Ocean whaling industry.
Hundreds of ships and thousands of crew brought new money, but they also brought (yet unknown to the islanders) lax social values and disease. Christian missionaries would later introduce religion and much-stricter social morals in an attempt to curtail the somewhat pagan lifestyle then common throughout the islands - and for the most part - they succeeded.
In the mid-1800s, Hawaii's sugar industry was established, and because many original natives were now dead, and others refused to work in manual-labor, plantation owners brought in foreign workers from China, Japan, and even from the Philippines.
The wildly successful sugar industry desired sanctuary from greedy outsiders, so they sought protection from the U.S. After years of negotiation with the United States a treaty was signed, American dollars flooded the islands and Hawaii found the golden-ring of prosperity.
In 1893, foreign commercial interests were the primary catalyst for ending the Hawaiian monarchy. Much to the dismay of Queen Liliuokalani and others, the last Hawaiian queen was deposed by force and one year later the Republic of Hawaii was established. In 1900 Hawaii became a territory of the United States.
To protect its interests the U.S. Navy established its Pacific Ocean headquarters at Pearl Harbor. This ingredient of stability helped the islands prosper; the pineapple industry flourished, and cattle ranching and tourism grew into important economic factors.
Then on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. and World War II (in the Pacific Ocean) began. The islands and countless Hawaiians played a significant role in that war, a role that will never be forgotten by America.
After the war ended, talks of statehood were in the air, and the 86th Congress proudly approved that statehood for Hawaii, as it was admitted to the union on August 21, 1959, as the 50th state.
Statehood brought development, and subsequently transformed Hawaii into a major tourist destination and a powerful economic force in the Pacific Ocean.
However, the return of Hawaiian sovereignty is once again on the political front-burners of many sons and daughters of native Hawaiians. In short, they want all of their islands back, and some even want the traditional monarchy re-established.
For now the island's long entrenchment into U.S. federal and state bureaucracies, as well as significant non-Hawaiian investments throughout the islands are the obvious major obstacles to same.
CITIES & ISLANDS - Attractions and Maps:
Hawaii Cities, Counties & Area Codes