Top 10 Things You Should Know About Hawaii
While Hawaii might be famous for its vibrant luau celebrations, active volcanoes, and affinity for Spam, some of the most intriguing facts about the islands are not typically broadcasted. From Hawaii’s days as an avant-garde kingdom to building codes that reference palm trees, here are the top ten interesting things you should know about Hawaii.
THE TOP 10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HAWAII
1. Hawaii’s Iolani Palace was outfitted with electricity years before the White House.
In 1887, King Kalakaua traveled to the United States to speak with Thomas Edison, who personally demonstrated how electricity works. King Kalakaua, determined to use technological advancements to benefit the people of his kingdom, returned to Hawaii and began work to illuminate Honolulu with electricity. Later that same year, the Iolani Palace was adorned with the first electric lights in Hawaii. Shortly after, the Nuʻuanu Hydroelectric Plant was constructed and carried electricity to the entire city of Honolulu. Iolani Palace was one of the first electrified capitals in the world, putting Hawaii among the most technologically advanced countries globally. Comparatively, the White House wasn’t outfitted with electricity until 1891.
2. When measured from the seafloor to the summit, the Big Island’s Mauna Kea is the largest mountain in the world.
The tallest mountain in the world is the famous Mt. Everest, towering at 29,032 ft. However, technically speaking, Mauna Kea has Everest beat by a few thousand feet. When you measure Mauna Kea’s height from the seafloor, the mighty Hawaiian mountain clocks in at 32,696 ft. Above sea level, Mauna Kea reaches 13,796 ft- which means more than half the mountain sits below the ocean’s surface.
3. Hawaii is the most isolated population on earth.
Smack dab in the center of the Pacific, Hawaii sits about 2,400 miles from the US mainland and 4,000 miles from Japan. The islands’ isolation has made the state a focal point for scientific and environmental studies.
4. The Hawaiian archipelago extends 1,350 miles past Kauai and contains a total of 137 islands.
If you thought Kauai was the northernmost Hawaiian island, think again. A collection of atolls, islets, and seamounts stretch some 1,350 miles past Kauai. These are known as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. These islands were once as mighty as the main Hawaiian islands are today, but millions of years of erosion have whittled them down to mere atolls and islets. The oldest and most northernmost island in the chain is Kure Atoll- believed to have formed 28 million years ago. In comparison, the Big Island, the youngest Hawaiian island, is about 400,000 years old. Today, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are a sanctuary for seabirds and endangered species like monk seals, and the region is home to the largest marine conservation area in the world.
5. Molokai doesn’t have any traffic lights.
It’s fair to say they don’t really need them either. With a population of only 7,400, there is not much traffic to speak of. Only 22 miles separate laid-back Molokai from bustling Oahu, but they might as well be worlds apart. Thankfully, Molokai is void of high rises and backed-up freeways, and the island intends to stay that way.
6. Hawaii has the longest life expectancy in the United States.
Life expectancy in Hawaii clocks in at 81.15 years. Several other states trail just behind at 80 years old. Whether it’s the sunshine, the friendly people, the low smoking and obesity rates, or maybe a secret ingredient in Spam that we just don’t know about, it’s clear that living in Hawaii is good for your health.
7. By law, a building on Kaua’i can be no taller than a palm tree.
It’s true- and Kauaians are vehemently proud of their undeveloped island. You won’t find another Waikiki going up at Poipu. While the rule might seem awfully subjective, the actual building code has a four-story limit on new structures. But it’s more fun to use coconut palms as a reference.
8. The ukulele isn’t a traditional Hawaiian instrument.
Hawaiian music is as lovely as a plumeria-scented breeze, and the genre is easily recognizable by its soaring vocals and strumming ukuleles. However, while the ukulele may epitomize the Hawaiiana genre today, it’s not a traditional instrument, so to speak. We can thank the sugar industry and the wave of Portuguese laborers that settled in Hawaii for the modern ukulele. Ukuleles are an adaptation of the Portuguese braghino, brought to the islands in 1879.
9. A new Hawaiian island is forming.
And its name is Loʻihi. At present, Loʻihi is a humble seamount, trying its very hardest to build itself up from the seafloor thousands of feet below the surface. But before you start dreaming about a vacation to this newly sprung island, I’ve got some bad news- Loʻihi won’t break the surface in our lifetime, or any living person’s lifetime, for that matter. Loʻihi is predicted to rise above the surface roughly 10,000 to 100,000 years from now- and even then, it will take another few hundred thousand years until the island is inhabitable. Maybe we’ll see you in the next life, Loʻihi.
10. Britain owns a small piece of land at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island.
Kealakekua Bay is where Captain Cook first landed in the Hawaiian Islands and where the explorer ultimately met his death. A large monument to Cook was erected on the bay’s shoreline in 1874, and in 1877, Britain purchased a small swath of land surrounding the memorial. The British government still owns the patch of land today, and the site is maintained by the Royal Navy and a local caretaker.
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