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HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
       

 
Geography
The Hawaiian Islands are a 1,523-mile chain of sandbanks, atolls, islets and eight main islands—named Hawaii (also known as "The Big Island", Kahoolawe, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau.  
The islands are the peaks of a huge range of volcanoes rising 18,000 feet from the ocean floor and are the Earth’s most isolated parcels of land, located in the middle of the Pacific ocean approximately 1,860 miles away from the nearest continental land mass, North America, and the other islands of Polynesia.  The Hawaiian Islands, collectively known as "Hawaii" are the 50th state in the United States and are among the smallest of the states, but as to their natural beauty and climate are among the best.  Hawaii is officially termed the "Aloha State" of the United States due to the aloha spirit of its diverse, multicultural population - a spirit of warmth, peacefulness and acceptance. 


The Hawaiian Islands includes some of the Earth's largest mountains to a height above sea level of nearly 14,000 feet. Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island are volcanic mountains with a total relief of nearly 32,000 feet.  The five major volcanoes of Hawaii are Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, and new submerged volcano of Loihi, is less than 450,000 years old.  Hawaii's highest peak is Mauna Kea (13,796 ft). Mauna Loa (13,679 ft) is the largest volcanic mountain in the world by volume, and there are still active volcanoes on the islands of Hawaii.

Seven of the eight main islands of Hawaii are inhabited, but only six of them are attractive for tourists. One island is privately owned. The "Big Island" of Hawaii, with 4,038 sq.m, makes up half of the land mass of the islands. Its name serves as the name for the whole archipelago. It means "native land" in the Polynesian language.

The height of the mountains decreases from east to west, due to their age. The youngest island, "Big Island", has got the highest mountain, Mauna Kea (13,796 ft), probably a sleeping volcano. There are also active volcanoes on this island , one of them is Mauna Loa, (13,680 ft) which erupted 15 times in the 20th century, causing great anxiety among the inhabitants.

The Garden Island of Kauai as well as the neighboring island Niihau are the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, each being nearly 5 million years old.  For detailed facts and information on the Garden Island, please click here.

Weather
The temperature throughout the Hawaiian Islands is mild and considered to be the most pleasing and comfortable weather in the entire world by visitors and locals alike, and as a result is considered to be a true tropical paradise.  Typical daily weather is characterized by clear blue skies and sunny days, with cool tropical breezes and occasional rainfall peppered throughout the day for a few minutes at a time.  There are countless soft sand beaches, lined with coconut palm trees that border the Hawaiian surf that delivers its series of clean ocean waves continually throughout the day.  
It is warm the whole year round with tropical rain showers with occasional gust of wind and heavy torrential downpours of rain. The slopes facing the wind are covered with dense tropical forest, on the leeward side of the maintains you find forests made up of trees needing less rain and grassland as natural vegetation on the one hand and huge plantations with pineapples or sugar cane on the other hand. Valleys full of vegetation change place with desert landscapes of volcanic lava, and green cliffs end in snow white beaches.


Because of the balmy weather noted staying at an average of 76 degrees per year, the Hawaiian Islands serves as a key exporter to the global marketplace, for some of the world’s chief tropical fruits and plant products such as sugar, pineapple, coffee, bananas and macadamia nuts as well as tropical flowers such as orchids, hibiscus and plumeria and kukui nut seeds. The outstanding overall weather of the Hawaiian Islands  makes the tourism industry Hawaii's largest source of outside income, as millions of visitors seek Hawaii’s breathtaking surroundings, perfect weather and peaceful lifestyle for a well-deserved vacation from the often busy base and inclement weather of many other regions of the world.  For detailed facts and information about Hawaii Tourism, please click here.

       
Plant & Animal Life
Because the Hawaiian Islands are geographically isolated from the rest of the world, Hawaii has a unique plant cultivations from around the word, no native land reptiles or amphibians and only two native mammals (the horay bat and the monk seal). Ancient settlers of Hawaii had to travel 2400 hundred miles or more just to get the Hawaiian Islands, and cargo space was often limited after holding rations for the ship’s crew.  As a result, Hawaii was initially colonized by a relatively few species of plants and animals that were suitably adapted for the long journey across the open ocean. Even in the ocean surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, the number of coral species are limited and nearly 25% of in-shore fishes are endemic (i.e., found only in) Hawaiian waters.  In fact, only 4300 species of plants and animals exist only in the eight main islands. The 1000 native plants evolved from as few as 280 original plant colonists and 100 endemic bird species developed from as few as 15 original aviators.  These species of tropical plants and animals still comprise one of the most unique and diverse group of life seen on planet earth, and are a major point of interest for the millions of visitors who visit these islands of paradise annually.



      

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