The Island of Hawaiʻi (called the Big Island or Hawaiʻi Island) is a volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean and one of the eight main islands that compose the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi. Larger than all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined, Hawaiʻi is said to have been named for Hawaiʻiloa, the legendary Polynesian navigator who first discovered it. However, other accounts attribute the name to the legendary land or realm of Hawaiki, a place from which the Polynesians originated (see also Manua), the place where they go in the afterlife, the realm of the gods.
The Island of Hawaiʻi is administered under the County of Hawaiʻi. The county seat is Hilo. It is estimated that as of the year 2003, the island had a resident population of 158,400 persons.
Geology and geography
As of 2000, there were 148,677 people, 52,985 households, and 36,877 families residing in the county. The population density was 14/km² (37/mi²). There were 62,674 housing units at an average density of 6/km² (16/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 31.55% White, 0.47% African American, 0.45% Native American, 26.70% Asian, 11.25% Pacific Islander, 1.14% from other races, and 28.44% from two or more races. 9.49% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 52,985 households out of which 32.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.60% were married couples living together, 13.20% had a woman whose husband did not live with her, and 30.40% were non-families. 23.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the county the population was spread out with 26.10% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 26.20% from 25 to 44, 26.00% from 45 to 64, and 13.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 100.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.70 males.
Sugarcane was the backbone of Hawaiʻi Island's economy for more than a century. In the mid-twentieth century, sugar plantations began to downsize and by 1996, the last sugar cane plantation had closed down.
Today, most of Hawaiʻi Island's economy is based on tourism, centered primarily on the leeward (kona) or western coast of the island in the North Kona and South Kohala districts. However, diversified agriculture is a growing sector of the economy of the island. Macadamia nuts, papaya, flowers, tropical and temperate vegetables, and coffee are all important crops. In fact, because of Hawaiʻi Island's reputation for growing beautiful orchids, the island has the nickname "The Orchid Isle." Cattle ranching is also important. The Big Island is home to one of the largest cattle ranches in the United States, Parker Ranch, which is situated on 175,000 acres in and around Kamuela. Astronomy is another industry, with numerous telescopes situated on Mauna Kea owing to the excellent clarity of the atmosphere at its summit and the lack of light pollution.
The Big Island is famous for its volcanoes. Kīlauea, the most active, has been erupting almost continuously for more than two decades.
At the coast where the lava meets the ocean, one can sometimes see billows of white steam rising from off the shoreline. At night, the lava lights up the steam to give an orange glow. When the molten lava makes contact with the ocean, the sea water turns into steam, and the sudden cooling of the lava causes the newly formed lava rocks to explode and crack into small pieces. The broken up lava is further ground into black sands along the shore by the ocean waves. Black sand beaches are common on the Big Island.
Akaka Falls; tallest waterfall on the island.
Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden
East Hawaiʻi Cultural Center
Hawaiʻi Tropical Botanical Garden
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park; comprising the active volcanoes Kīlauea and Mauna Loa
Huliheʻe Palace; a royal palace in Kailua-Kona
Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the United States
Manuka State Wayside Park
Mauna Kea Observatory; Mauna Kea Observatories
Nani Mau Gardens
Onizuka Space Center; museum dedicated to the memory of Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka
Pacific Tsunami Museum overlooking Hilo Bay
Pua Mau Place Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Puʻuhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
Sadie Seymour Botanical Gardens
University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Botanical Gardens
World Botanical Gardens
Rainbow Falls State Park Places of interest
Hawaiian Ocean View
Hawaiian Paradise Park
Kurtistown Cities and towns
- North Kona
- North Hilo
- North Kohala
South Kohala Historic districts
Hawaiʻi Community College
- North Kohala
- North Hilo
- North Kona