The Pacific had been crossed many times and most of the lands around it had been explored before the world knew there was an inhabited archipelago in its very center.
The first white man to discover the islands was Captain James Cook in 1778. He called them the Sandwich Islands, after the Earl of Sandwich. Captain Cook, making his first landing on the verdant island of Kauai, found the islands populated by about 300,000 natives. They were Polynesian in origin, and among the most advanced of all the Polynesians. The islands were ruled by four warring native kings.
About 30 years later, the local wars ended with all the islands united under King Kamehameha I, the wisest and most enlightened of the native rulers of Hawaii. He welcomed other lands, promoted trade and commerce. Traders from abroad brought goods for the from far lands and bought the exotic products of Hawaii in return. Unfortunately they also brought diseases for which the isolated Polynesian People had no natural immunity.
Within 100 years the native population had dropped to 50,000. In the meantime the trends which were to most the Hawaiian Islands one of the Polyglot regions in the world in ethnic origin, had started. First came the missionaries, from New England. They found native people ready to embrace a new religion, and set about converting Hawaii to Christianity.
They also saw in Hawaii opportunities for business. They established small firms to trade with the rest of the world. They succeeded so well that the children of the missionaries are now the chief directors and owners of Hawaii’s great companies, operating huge plantations and far-flung trading companies.
With the dwindling of the native population through the ravages of disease and the development of Hawaii’s plantation fields, field labor was recruited from other lands. The first groups were Chinese. Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos followed. Puerto Ricans, Germans, and Portuguese came later.
During this period Hawaii was a monarchy. Toward the end of the nineteenth century agitation for annexation to the United States began. For a brief period the islands were a republic. Annexation was accomplished in 1898, and in 1900 Hawaii became a Territory of the United States, under a governor named Sanford P. Dole. At that time two-thirds of the population were foreign-born aliens, most of them uneducated Orientals.
Impetus to the transition between an Oriental crossroads community and an integrated American society was given by the sudden impact of World War II, the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the establishment of the islands as one of the great military bases for the war and a staging ground for the whole Pacific Campaign.
It brought to the islands many thousands of fighting men to man the installations, and hundreds of thousands more who stopped briefly in the islands in transit between the distant fighting fronts and home areas. With the war’s end many stationed in the islands stayed to work and live; others who had sampled the benign climate and glimpsed the exotic charm of the islands, returned. With the war’s end the fighting bases became great permanent military installations with a military personnel of about 50,000.
Hawaii has a very heterogeneous population with Americans of Polynesian, Asian, European, and African extraction, immigration to Hawaii still continues. Most of the newcomers are young people. Hawaii’s varied population is reflected in the food specialties which are served. These include poi, a paste made from taro root; roast pig and coconut. The islands have superb fruits; some of them, like the passion fruit, are quite rare. Others are guava, papaya, pineapple. There are also native nuts that are unusual. All are served at the popular luau feast.
traditional dance of Bali island arousing