Hawai'i Flag on Our Flagpole

Hawai’i -The Aloha State


Access to uninhabited Kahoʻolawe island is also restricted.

The Hawai’ian archipelago is located 2,000 miles southwest of the contiguous United States.  Hawai’i is the southernmost U.S. state and the second westernmost after Alaska.  Hawai’i, like Alaska, does not border any other U.S. state.  It is the only U.S. state that is not geographically located in North America, the only state completely surrounded by water and that is entirely an archipelago, and the only state in which coffee is commercially cultivable.

In addition to the eight main islands, the state has many smaller islands and islets.  Kaʻula is a small island near Niʻihau.  The Northwest Hawai’ian Islands is a group of nine small, older islands to the northwest of Kauaʻi that extend from Nihoa to Kure Atoll; these are remnants of once much larger volcanic mountains.  Across the archipelago are around 130 small rocks and islets, such as Molokini, which are either volcanic, marine sedimentary or erosional in origin.

Full Hawaiian Chain Map
Full Hawaiian Chain Map

Hawai’i’s tallest mountain Mauna Kea is 13,796 feet above mean sea level; it is taller than Mount Everest if measured from the base of the mountain, which lies on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and rises about 33,500 feet.

The Hawai’ian islands were formed by volcanic activity initiated at an undersea magma source called the Hawai’i hotspot.  The process is continuing to build islands; the tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean continually moves northwest and the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes.  Because of the hotspot’s location, all currently active land volcanoes are located on the southern half of Hawai’i Island.  The newest volcano, Lōʻihi Seamount, is located south of the coast of Hawai’i Island.

The last volcanic eruption outside Hawai’i Island occurred at Haleakalā on Maui before the late 18th century, possibly hundreds of years earlier.  In 1790, Kīlauea exploded; it was the deadliest eruption known to have occurred in the modern era in what is now the United States.  Up to 5,405 warriors and their families marching on Kīlauea were killed by the eruption.  Volcanic activity and subsequent erosion have created impressive geological features.

Na Pali Coast State Park
Na Pali Coast State Park

Hawai’i Island has the second-highest point among the world’s islands.

On the flanks of the volcanoes, slope instability has generated damaging earthquakes and related tsunamis, particularly in 1868 and 1975.  Steep cliffs have been created by catastrophic debris avalanches on the submerged flanks of ocean island volcanoes.

The Kīlauea erupted in May 2018, opening 22 fissure vents on its East Rift Zone.  The Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens are situated within this territory.  The destruction affected at least 36 buildings and this coupled with the lava flows and the sulfur dioxide fumes, necessitated the evacuation of more than 2,000 local inhabitants from the neighborhoods.


Hawai’i is one of four U.S. states—apart from the original thirteen, along with the Vermont Republic (1791), the Republic of Texas (1845), and the California Republic (1846)—that were independent nations prior to statehood.  Along with Texas, Hawai’i had formal, international diplomatic recognition as a nation.

Scroll to Top