Honolulu, United States of America

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The capital of Hawaii and the seat of Honolulu county is on a strip of land on the island of Oahu. Honolulu stretches from Makapuu Point in the east to Pearl Harbor in the west and is near to the Koolau mountains. Honolulu (from the Hawaiian for ‘sheltered harbour’) is the largest urban area and most important economic centre in Hawaii as well as an important Pacific port and tourist destination.


A Polynesian community was on the site of modern day Honolulu in AD 1100. The first European settlers were led by a British captain, William Brown, in 1794. The arrival of more Europeans and Americans in the early part of the nineteenth century saw Honolulu thrive as a trading centre. King Kamehameha’s Hawaiian Royal Family made the city their main residence until the end of the monarchy in 1893. On 12 Aug. 1898 Honolulu and other sections of the Hawaiian Islands were formally annexed by the United States.

On 7 Dec. 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, leading to the United States entering World War II. During the conflict Honolulu was a base for American troops in the Pacific. Hawaii entered the Union in 1959 after a plebiscite voted 17:1 in favour and Honolulu was made state capital.

Modern City

Industries include processed food (including canned pineapple), metal goods, clothing and building materials. Tourism is important with Waikiki beach at the heart of the hotel industry. Pearl Harbor Naval Base and Hickham Air Force Base are integral parts of the local economy.

The city is served by Honolulu International Airport and has a bus network with over 60 bus routes. The University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii Pacific University and Chaminade University of Honolulu are all based in Honolulu.

Places of Interest

Diamond Head and the Punchbowl, two extinct volcanic craters, are both located in Honolulu. The latter is the site for the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and St Andrew’s Cathedral commemorate those killed during the Japanese attack in 1941.

Bishop Museum contains collections of Polynesian art and artefacts. Other cultural institutions include the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Alice Cooke Spaulding House. A theatre, exhibition hall and the city’s symphony orchestra are located in the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. The Hawaii Maritime Center documents the city’s seafaring past. The spacious plaza at King Street contains Iolani Palace, the home of the Hawaiian Royal Family until 1893, and the state capitol.

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