Is Hawaii A Country?

The Napali Coast, Hawaii.
The Napali Coast, Hawaii.

A country refers to a politically defined region that has its own fully independent governent. Hawaii is part of the United States and is not a country. Hawaii was the last of the 50 states to join the U.S., receiving its statehood on August 21, 1959. It is the only U.S. state that is situated in Oceania. In addition, it is the only U.S. state that is made up solely of islands, as well as the only state located outside of North America. Hawaii is located about 2,000 miles to the southwest of the United States, in the central region of the Pacific Ocean. Since it is an island, Hawaii is not bordered by any state. The capital of Hawaii is Honolulu.


The state of Hawaii is composed of eight major islands, seven of which have permanent settlements. These islands include: Hawaii (or the Big Island), Maui, Oahu, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Niihau, Kauai, and Molokai. By size, the biggest island is Hawaii (4,028 square miles), while the smallest is Kahoolawe (44.6 square miles). The state of Hawaii a total combined area of approximately 10,931 square miles. Compared with other U.S. states, Hawaii is 43rd largest in terms of size. One of the most interesting geographical features is Mauna Kea, a volcanic mountain which has a height of about 13,796 feet. If the mountain were to be measured from its base at the floor of the Pacific, rather than from the mean sea level, it would have a height of a whopping 33,500 feet, which would make it taller than Mount Everest (29,029 feet).


The state government structure is based on that of the federal government, with all the three major branches of government in place: executive, legislative, and judicial. The governor heads the executive, as outlined in the Constitution of Hawaii. The Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, who is elected at the same time as the governor on a single ticket, assists the governor. The legislature is bicameral, and the upper house is known as the Hawaii Senate (25 members), while the lower house is known as the Hawaii House of Representatives (51 members). The state has two representatives and two senators in the U.S. Congress.


Prior to the arrival of Europeans during the period of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the population was composed exclusively of indigenous peoples. The indigenous population has experienced periods of increases and decreases over time. In 2010, the indigenous population was 156,000. In 2015, the total population of Hawaii was approximately 1,431,603. In 2015, the Asian population was the largest (37.3%), followed by the white population (26.7%), the multi-racial population (23.0%), while the indigenous populaiton made up only 9.9%. Hawaiian and English are the two official languages of the state, as outlined in the constitution. Other languages spoken include Spanish, Asian languages, and Indo-European languages.


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