Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hawaiian Islands And A Little Perspective

It occurred to me that some people, while reading my (sometimes) misanthropic posts may not have an accurate understanding of the Hawaiian islands or their basic layout.  Below is a map (click to enlarge):

The Hawaiian Islands (HawaiianMokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago (chain or cluster of islands) of eight major islands, several atolls (island of coral that circles a lagoon partially or completely), numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the Pacific Ocean.  The entire chain of islands extends some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaiʻi in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll (the northwesternmost island in Hawaii is Green Island, which is joined to the Kure Atoll).

Oahu, where the Intermediate Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are located, is an island in the Northwestern part of the chain.  Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and is located on the island of Oahu.  Many people often confuse "Hawaii the State" with "Hawaii the Island" thinking they are the same thing.  This is understandably confusing.  Hawaii the Island is also called "The Big Island."  Hawaii the State is in reference to all 8 major islands (and surrounding atolls, etc).  The major metropolitan area of Hawaii the State is Honolulu.  Oahu has by far the most people and most commercial activity of any of the islands. 

Oahu, known as "The Gathering Place", is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands and most populous of the islands in the State of Hawaiʻi. It has a total land area of 596.7 square miles.  The craziest thing is that the island is home to about 902,168 people, which is roughly 75% of the population of the entire state.  Then about 75% of those on Oahu live on the "city" side of the island.  In case you don't feel like doing the math, that means that there are about 1,521 people/sq mi on Oahu.

To put these numbers in perspective, consider a few other places.  The Big Island, the largest Hawaiian island, has just under 44 people per square mile (4,028 sq. mil with a population of 175,784).  The State of Delaware (the second smallest State) has 885,000 people contained within a 2,490 sq mi area (355 people/sq mi).  The State of California is the most populous State in the U.S. and third largest by land area.  California is 163,696 sq mi with a population of 36,961,664 (225.8 people per/sq mi).  All the numbers presented are as of 2009 and are compiled from the official websites of the particular State. 

So there you have the very basic idea. 

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