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General Facts


Discovered by Polynesian settlers between the 3rd and 7th centuries A.D. and later by British Captain James Cook in 1778.

hibiscus Hawaii became the 50th state on August 21, 1959.

Honolulu, the capital city, is on the Island of Oahu.

Hawaii is a string of 137 islands encompassing a land area of 6,423.4 square miles in the north central Pacific Ocean about 2,400 miles from the west coast of the continental United States. Stretching from northwest to southeast, the major islands are: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui and Hawaii.

Hawaii's climate features mild temperatures, moderate humidity and cooling tradewinds.

Nene State Flower: Yellow hibiscus (pua ma‘o hau hele; Hibiscus brackenridgei)

State Bird: Hawaiian goose (nene; Branta sandvicensis)

State Tree: Candlenut (kukui; Aleurites moluccana)

State Song: Hawai‘i Pono‘i

State Seal and Motto: Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness)


    State resident population (1998): 1,193,001
    Kauai County (1998) 56,603
    Kauai Island (1990) 50,947
    Niihau (1990) 230
    City & County of Honolulu (1998) 872,478
    Maui County (1998) 120,785
    Maui Island (1995) 105,336
    Molokai (1995) 6,838
    Lanai (1995) 2,989
    Hawaii County (1998) 143,135


De facto population (l998): 1,321,098 (this number includes all persons physically present, e.g., military and visitors, but excludes residents temporarily absent)

kukui Population density (1998): 205.7 people per square mile (based on de facto population)

Number of households (1996): 388,509 with an average of 2.96 persons per household

The population is 50% male and 50% female.

Median age (1997): 35.7 years (for males, 34.7 years and females, 36.7 years)

Age breakdown (1997): Under 5 (7.5%); 5-19 (20.9); 20-44 (37.3); 45-64 (21.2); 65+ (13.2)

Ethnicity (1998): Caucasian (22%); Hawaiian/part Hawaiian (21); Japanese (18); Filipino (13); Chinese (3); Black (1); Hispanic origin (1990) (7.3)

State Seal Marriages (1997): 19,901 (56% were nonresidents and 44.8 % were interracial)

Divorces and annulments (1997): 4,877

Life expectancy (1990): Males, 78.8 years; Females, 82.0 years

Education (1996): 84% of the population are high school graduates; 24% have a bachelor's or advanced degree.

Governor: Benjamin J. Cayetano

Lieutenant Governor: Mazie K. Hirono

Legislature: 51-member House and 25-member Senate which meets annually.

There are four counties with mayors and councils:

    City and County of Honolulu (the Island of Oahu and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands excluding Midway)
    Hawaii County (Hawaii Island)
    Maui County (Islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe)
    Kauai County (Islands of Kauai and and Niihau)

Hawaii has only two levels of government; state and county. Counties perform most services usually assigned to cities and towns (fire protection, refuse collection, construction and maintenance of streets and other public works). There is only one school district which is administered by the State.

Congressional members:

    U.S. Senate:
    Daniel K. Inouye
    Daniel K. Akaka

    U.S. Representative:
    Patsy T. Mink
    Neil Abercrombie


Gross State Product (1998): $34.9 billion
Major export industries:
  Visitor expenditures (1997): $10.8 billion
  Federal defense spending (1998): $4.1 billion
  Sugar and pineapple (1997): $269.2 million


The State of Hawaii is committed to diversifying Hawaii's economy. Industries encouraged are science and technology, film and television production, sports, ocean research and development, health and education tourism, diversified agriculture and floral and specialty food products.

Visitors staying overnight or longer (1998): 6,738,230

By country (1997): Mainland U.S., 3.7 million; Japan, 2.1 million; Other Asia, 305,000; Canada, 327,000; Europe, 262,000

Visitor expenditures (1997): $10.8 billion

Average daily visitor expenditure (1997): Mainland U.S., $157; Japan, $279


    Total hotel and condominium units (1998): 71,480
    Oahu 36,206
    Hawaii 9,655)
    Maui 17,711
    Molokai 570
    Lanai 369
    Kauai 6,969


State hotel occupancy rate (1998): 72.0% Oahu (73.8); Hawaii (68.2); Maui (72.8); Molokai (43.1); Kauai (67.0) Average daily room rate (1998): $140.63 Oahu ($122.83); Hawaii ($157.64); Maui ($161.37); Molokai ($75.46) Kauai ($154.20) A significant event in 1998 that impacts the visitor industry is the opening of the Hawaii Convention Center.

Total federal expenditures (1998): $8.4 billion

Military personnel and dependents (1998): 101,311

The Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) is geographically the largest of the U.S. unified service commands. It covers about 50% of the earth's surface from the U.S. West Coast to Africa's east coast and from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

Once Hawaii's primary source of income, agriculture remains a significant contributor.

Value of crop and livestock sales (1997): $485.7 million

Major crops (1997): Sugar, $85.5 million; pineapple, $91.7 million; flower and nursery products, $68.2 million; macadamia nuts, $43.5 million; coffee, $28.2 million; milk, $29.5 million; cattle, $14.3 million; eggs, $12.9 million.

Aquaculture farms statewide (1996): 117 small or medium-sized operations, often diversified. Overall value of aquaculture (1996): $15.7 million; value of shellfish production, $4.3 million.

Hawaii's Foreign-Trade Zone No. 9 is one of the most successful trade zone programs in the United States. In 1998, the Zone was used by 279 businesses handling $2.1 billion worth of merchandise and providing 6,370 jobs.

Retail sales (1998): $15.7 billion

Hawaii's retail establishments include discount outlet malls, big box outlets and national and international chain stores.

Unemployment rate (1998): 6.2% Oahu (5.4); Hawaii (9.7); Maui (6.6); Molokai (15.0); Lanai (3.5); Kauai (9.8) Civilian labor force (1998): 597,050 Composition of labor force (1998): Male, 53%; Female, 47% Civilian employment (1998): 559,750 Annual wages per private employee (1997): $26,978 In 1997, 8.7% of employed persons held multiple jobs. Hawaii's economy is service-oriented with hotels and other service providers accounting for more than one-fourth of the jobs. About three in ten civilian workers are professional or managerial. Government and retailing account for half the number of employees. Hawaii's workforce is skilled in Asian languages and business protocol.

Minimum wage (1998): $5.25 per hour

Principal unions: AFL-CIO, Teamsters, International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU).

Largest memberships: Hawaii Government Employees Association, ILWU, and Teamsters.

Labor union membership (1997): 170,399

In 1998, 26.5% of those employed were union members.

Banks (1998): 6 with 191 branches

Savings and loan associations (1998): 3 with 97 branches

Publicly traded Hawaii companies: 26

All major U.S. securities firms are represented.

Domestic corporations and partnerships on record (1998): 38,231; non-Hawaii corporations: 7,731; non-Hawaii partnerships: 8,177; new domestic corporations formed: 2,983

Business starts (1998): 593

Business failures (1997): 630

Employers by industry (1997): Service (36%); Retail (23); Manufacturing (3)

Most of Hawaii's businesses are small. 53% have fewer than five employees and 95% have fewer than 50 employees.

The Hawaii Small Business Regulatory Flexibilty Act was passed in 1998 to ease the process of creating and operating a business.

Daily newspapers (1997): 6 English-language papers

Radio stations (1997): 70

Television stations (1997): 22

There are also foreign language newspapers, radio stations and television stations.

Cable TV companies (1998): 4 with 345,631 subscribers

Cellular telephone companies (1998): 10

Hawaii has high data rate links with more than 30 state-of-the-art telecommunications satellites. 29,000 miles of undersea fiber optic cables provide 140,000 voice equivalent circuits facilitating simultaneous voice, data, and image transmissions to the continental United States, Canada and Asia along with a new "super-carrier" cable providing an additional 130,00 circuits. 30 dedicated T-1s link to every major business center in Asia and Europe. In 1998, 100% of local telephone lines were converted from analog to digital switching.

Beginning with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the State of Hawaii launched a program of deregulation to encourage increased competition among companies.

The University of Hawaii system had 45,337 students enrolled in 1998 and awarded 2,528 bachelor's degrees, 1,932 master's degrees and 161 doctoral degrees. The three private universities had an enrollment of 13,496 students.

Institutions with an international focus are the federally-funded East-West Center, the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, the Japan-America Institute of Management Science, Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade University, Kansai Gaidai Hawaii College, and the University of Hawaii.

Hawaii's state-wide public school system had an enrollment in 1998 of 187,395 students in grades K-12. In 1998, there were 10,300 high school graduates. There are also 132 private schools. Enrollment in private schools was 37,078 in 1996.

In 1998, Hawaii's state-wide public library system had 49 branches and combined collections of 3,196,562 books. The University of Hawaii library system collections housed 3,597,854 volumes.

Overseas airline passenger arrivals (1997): 7,788,367; interisland airline passengers: 10,448,099

Licensed drivers (1996): 733,486 Motor vehicle registrations (1998): 893,427 Streets and highways (1997): 4,164 miles

The availability of public transportation varies from island to island.

Commercial airports (1997): 9; General aviation, military or semiprivate airports: 16; Heliports: 5; Active pilots (1996): 2,561; Active civil aircraft in general aviation (1996): 364.

Harbors: 7 deep-draft and 2 medium-draft harbors on the five major islands in the State.

There is barge service between islands.

Per capita personal income (1998): $26,137

Median annual income of households (1997): $41,832. Ranked 7th highest of the fifty states and District of Columbia.

The cost of living for a family of four has been estimated to be 27% higher than the U.S. average for a comparable standard of living.

State revenue receipts in 1997 totaled nearly $6.7 billion, chiefly from taxes (46.1 %), intergovernmental revenue (19.4) and insurance trust (17.5). The general excise and use tax ($1.6 billion) and individual income tax ($997 million) are the major sources of tax revenue.

The four counties establish real property tax rates and assess and collect these taxes. Except for licenses, permits and fees, other tax collections are the responsibility of the State which operates a centralized tax system. Hawaii has no personal property or inventory taxes.

There is a general excise tax (GET) of 4% that is applied to retail sales of goods and services.

The corporate tax rate is 4.4 percent of income up to $25,000, 5.4 percent of taxable income up to $100,000, and 6.4 percent of income exceeding $100,000. The capital gains tax rate is 4 percent for corporations.

Total housing units (1997): 442,867

State median resale value (1998): $251,500

Average monthly mortgage (1997): $1,319

Average monthly rent (1997): $897

Housing is expensive in Hawaii, partly because of the limited availability and the high price of land. Mobile homes are not found in Hawaii as zoning and building code regulations are stringent.

Electricity sales: (1998): 9.3 billion kilowatt-hours

Electric utilities: Hawaii Electric Light Co. (Hawaii); Hawaiian Electric Co. (Oahu); Kauai Electric (Kauai); Maui Electric Co. (Maui, Molokai and Lanai)

Gas sales (1998): 33.1 million therms of utility gas

Gas utility: The Gas Company

Imported petroleum (1998): about 90% of energy needs.

Other sources of energy: Solar, geothermal, garbage power, bagasse (waste from sugarcane) and wood chips from trees, wind power, water-driven turbines and coal.

Given its nearly total dependence on oil imports, Hawaii's top energy priorities are alternate energy and conservation.

Research and development spending by the Federal government (1997): $153.7 million

Hawaii supports science and technology research and development through a multitude of agencies. Key among these agencies are the High Technology Development Corporation, the Maui Research & Technology Center (home of the Maui High Performance Computing Center), the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (an ocean science and technology park utilizing deep ocean water technology), Center of Excellence in Ocean Sciences (CEROS), the Pacific Center for High Technology Research, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

The University of Hawaii fosters research in all aspects of science and technology with international recognition in areas such as astronomy, ocean sciences, geology and biomedical research.

Notably, astronomy plays a key role in Hawaii's commitment to scientific research. The exceptionally clear skies at the summits of the Big Island's Mauna Kea and Maui's Haleakala offer optimum conditions for astronomical observations. On Mauna Kea alone, 13 major facilties representing the cooperation of 10 countries are in operation. The Subaru Telescope Facility, the newest observatory, represents a new class of revolutionary telescopes. Supported by a dedicated supercomputer in Hilo, its ultra-thin and light mirror permits extremely high accuracy in imaging celestial objects.

In the area of biotechnology, a team lead by Professor Ryuzo Yanagimachi of the University of Hawaii's School of Medicine developed the "Honolulu Cloning Technique" producing 50 identical mice. The Hawaii Institute of Biogenesis is being established to support this research.

Hawaii has only two levels of government taxation: state and local

No personal property tax

No tax on inventory, furniture, equipment or machinery

Credit granted against taxes paid on the purchase of capital goods, machinery, and equipment

No state tax on goods manufactured for export

No stock transfer tax (all security exchange transactions are exempt from general excise tax, as an incentive to financial institutions)

No unincorporated business tax

Banks and financial institutions pay only one business tax

Manufactured products or those produced for export are exempt from the general excise tax, including custom computer software

The corporate tax rate is 4.4 percent of income up to $25,000, 5.4 percent of taxable income up to $100,000, and 6.4 percent of income exceeding $100,000. The capital gains tax rate is 4 percent for corporations.

The Immigrant Investor Program and the Enterprise Zone Program are available for qualified applicants.

Hawaii's Department of Labor and Industrial Relations administers the Employment Training Fund which provides industry or employer-specific training programs in high growth occupational areas.

           Info from State of Hawaii Home Page

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