THE BEAUTIFUL WORLD
The inhabitants are relative newcomers, too. About A. D. 300, a group of Polynesians,
navigating outrigger canoes by the sun, wind, ocean currents, and stars, arrived at
this remote string if islands, and according to tradition named them affectionately
Ke Ao Nani ("The Beautiful World"). Though the Hawaiians descended from these settlers
now account for less than 20 percent of the state's population, their culture has made
a district and permanent imprint.
Collectively, the Hawaiian Islands are nicknamed the Aloha Islands. But aloha is not
just a mellifluous word of greeting. It also means love. The warm and outgoing nature
of Hawaiians has made this state a melting pot that works. While a movement is on to
preserve the Hawaiian language, culture, and traditions, Polynesians, Orientals,
Caucasians (haoles on Hawaiian), and other racial and ethnic groups live together
harmoniously, with an intermarriage rate of more than 40 percent.
ISLANDS FROM THE SEA
Millions of years ago the Hawaiian Islands erupted from a hot spot on the Pacific Ocean
floor. Layers of lava rose over time, formed undersea mountains, and 70 million years
ago emerged from the sea as fiery volcanoes. They spread out in a line, northwest to
southeast more than 1,500 miles from end to end.
Once the volcanoes emerged from the ocean, the erosion process began as a forces of
waves, wind, and rain did their work. The youngest and least eroded of the volcanoes
are the eight major islands that constitute the state of Hawaii - Hawaii, Maui, Oahu,
Kauai, and Molokai; privately owned Lanai and Niihau; and uninhabited Kahoolawe. The
124 smaller points of land are among the older more eroded volcanoes.
OAHU: THE GATHERING PLACE
Archeologists have been unable to pinpoint the first Hawaiian landing site, but some
of the earliest identified settlements are on Oahu, long ago nicknamed the Gathering
Place for its large population - which at more than 800,000 today is the largest of
any Hawaiian Island. Honolulu, on the southeastern coast, is the state's largest city,
capital, and business center, as well as the site of Waikiki Beach.
While much of the island is a modern metropolis with urban skyscrapers, suburban homes
nestled in mountains and valleys, and interstate highways, Oahu retains its tropical
allure. Overlooking Waikiki is diamond Head, the extinct volcano that is Hawaii's most
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