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A PORTRAIT OF HAWAI‘I

Hawai‘i is, quite simply, America’s paradise. Its long stretches of white sand, crystal blue waters, swaying palms, and lush tropical rainforests dotted with pristine waterfalls attract millions of visitors each year. Hawai‘i represents an evergrowing population encompassing a myriad of ethnic groups, development and tourism, agricultural diversity, and it is the homeland of a rich cultural heritage.



The most isolated land masses and the longest island chain on earth, the Hawaiian Islands were all formed by volcanic eruptions deep beneath the sea and are, technically, the summits of submerged volcanoes. Of the archipelago’s numerous islands and atolls, the six main islands are O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Maui, Hawai‘i Island, and Kaua‘i. The state’s unique topography is most vividly apparent on Hawai‘i Island where the world’s most active volcano, Kīlauea, has been erupting constantly since 1983. As Kīlauea’s lava empties into the sea, the island continues to grow and change shape. The isolation of the Hawaiian islands and their diverse habitats have resulted in spectacular native flora and fauna. These impressive and fragile ecosystems are home to more endangered species than anywhere else in the world. Climates vary considerably, with 12 of the earth’s 13 climactic zones represented. Windward coasts to the north and west receive more rainfall and are characterized by jagged cliffs, lush valleys, and dense foliage. The sunnier leeward sides to the south and west are drier and make ideal locations for popular tourist resorts.

TOURISM AND ECONOMICS

Tourism is, by far, the islands’ biggest industry and it continues to grow annually. More than seven million people from around the globe visit the Hawaiian islands each year. Resort hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, and operators that organize sports activities dominate the industry. Military installations, including Pearl Harbor, are the second leading source of outside income. The agricultural industry remains an important facet of Hawai‘i’s economy. Major agricultural products include coffee, macadamia nuts, tropical flowers, cane sugar, pineapples, bananas, and papayas. In addition to these larger agricultural ventures, small farmers are making a resurgence and are today driving a diversified agriculture movement thanks, in large measure, to their partnerships with island chefs. A myriad variety of vegetables, herbs, beef cattle, and locally grown and produced foodstuffs now appear on restaurant menus throughout the islands.


Hawai‘i’s strategic location in the Pacific Rim also fuels the state’s modern economy. Hi-tech companies and financial institutions establish themselves here, the closest place in the United States to the markets of Asia.

PEOPLE AND SOCIETY


To call Hawai‘i an ethnic melting pot is an understatement. Immigration to these islands started more than six centuries ago, with the arrival of the first Polynesian settlers, and continued during the plantation era with waves of Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, German, and Puerto Rican laborers. Today, more ethnic and cultural groups are represented in Hawai‘i than in any other state. Each group has brought traditions that have been tightly woven into the fabric of modern Hawaiian life

The tradition of removing one’s shoes before entering a home, the annual O-Bon and Floating Lantern Festival which honors ancestors, the proliferation of sushi restaurants, and the extreme reverence for elders are all Japanese customs that today know few ethnic boundaries. The roots of the cattle industry, ranches, rodeos, ‘ukulele music, and sweet bread lie in the influx of Portuguese immigrants in the 19th century

CULTURE AND THE ARTS

 Hawai‘i’s cultural renaissance began in the late 1970s and continues to grow strongly and steadily to this day. There are many organizations and workshops dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture. Most important is the revival of the Hawaiian language in recent years. A lively contemporary music scene also flourishes throughout the islands which blends mainstream reggae, rock ‘n’ roll, and jazz with more traditional sounds, including Hawaiian slack key guitar. It is still possible to see traditional hula performances, and the arts of Polynesian navigation and lua, a Hawaiian martial art, are also thriving. Hawaiian crafts – such as the making of hula implements, feather lei (garlands), and weaving – are also experiencing a welcome revival. And, of course, the ancient sports of surfing and canoe paddling are more popular than ever


Artists from all over the world have been inspired by the people and beauty of Hawai‘i, and Western and Asian visual and performing arts are very well represented. Honolulu boasts two worldclass art institutions – the Honolulu Academy of Arts and The Contemporary Museum – and all of the islands are home to a number of galleries and artists’ studios

A PORTRAIT OF HAWAI‘I A PORTRAIT OF HAWAI‘I Reviewed by MELANIE INFINITY on January 11, 2020 Rating: 5

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