The History of Aloha
In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th State in the United States but the history of our islands goes back to millennia.
Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands arrived in Hawaii about 1,500 years ago. Voyaging the immense Pacific Ocean, these fearless travelers used only the stars, waves, and other natural phenomena to guide them.
The first voyage surely would have been an accidental discovery after an astonishing 2,000 miles in small canoes.
It was 500 years later that voyages from Tahiti set foot on shore and brought their gods, demi-gods, and a strict social hierarchy based on a kapu or taboo system.
Over the next few centuries, the Hawaiian culture flourished, resulting in a diverse and complex society. They gave rise to popular activities like the Hula and the sport of surfing. However, conflicts between competing chieftains spawned as well.
English explorer Captain James Cook landed on the island of Kauai at Waimea Bay in 1778, quickly naming the entire chain as "Sandwich Islands" in honor of the English Lord, John Montagu.
On a return trip, Cook was killed by Islanders on the Big Island at Kealakekua Bay.
Island rivalries persisted until 1791 when King Kamehameha managed to unite the warring factions and ultimately established one kingdom in 1810. A year after Kamehameha's death, his son, Liholiho, abolished the ancient kapu system.
Protestant missionaries arrived on the islands in 1820 and precipitously stepped into the void created by the banned kapu system. Soon Hawaii became a port of call for seamen, traders, and whalers.
While whaling created an economic boom, especially on Maui, western diseases ravaged the natives.
Over time, American Colonists came to control much of Hawaii's business trade, and in 1898, they overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in a peaceful coup that remains controversial. That year, the United States declared Hawaii a territory.
Economics & Conflict
Agriculture expanded quickly in Hawaii. Sugar and pineapple plantations notably surged. To complete operations, workers were imported from China, Japan, the Philippines, and Portugal.
In particular, the Island of Lanai, led by James Dole, became known as the "Pineapple Island" and the world's lead producers of that fruit.
Hawaii has not been without its difficulties. In particular, in 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on Oahu's Pearl Harbor that resulted in the deaths of thousands and the United States' entry into World War two in the Pacific.
Japan's unconditional surrender took place on the USS battleship Missouri, which still rests in Pearl Harbor.
As 1959 arrived, Hawaii was welcomed as the 50th State of these United States. Still, today, America's armed forces are ideally suited in Hawaii to respond to threats all across the Pacific.
Hawaii's location in the middle of the giant Pacific Ocean has allowed it to become a gathering place for travelers and businesses across the globe.
Culture & Arts
Perhaps the most memorable and even surprising realization for visitors is the revelation of music, dance, storytelling, and theatre that permeates every corner of the Hawaiian Islands.
Here, the arts are not just a pastime activity for enjoyment. It is a celebration of life in which everyone is invited.
While many travel destinations around the world can boast sun, surf, and good weather, visitors come to explore a society that is more welcoming, more accepting, and more comforting than any other.
Over the centuries, and contrary to expectations that mixing so many diverse groups could lead to conflict, it is Hawaii's mix of cultures that makes its current population so diverse and welcoming.
The spirit of Aloha is not an advertising slogan or jingle. Hawaii is known to be the place where compassion, understanding, and diversity were first realized and treasured.
Please, come visit our islands. Soak in the spirit of Aloha. Receive our gracious Mahalo and return again and again to a place blessed with all that is good in life.
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