Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy 50th, Hawai'i!

Today marks the day that the 50th state turns 50 years old. In March of 1959, Congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act. On June 27 that year, Hawaii residents voted to accept statehood at a referendum. On August 21, 1959, President Eisenhower signed the proclamation and executive order officially making Hawaii the U.S.A.'s 50th state.

Since then Hawaii has flourished as a fully modern state while still maintaining a great respect for its rich native traditions. The state currently has a population of about 1.3 million. The population is 39% white, 3% black, 2% American Indian, 58% Asian (mostly Japanese and Filipino), 23% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and 4% other. If this looks like it adds up to more than 100%, that's because 21% of Hawaii's population is mixed race. Tourism is Hawaii's biggest business, with nearly 7 million tourists per year flocking to its world-famous beaches.

Seeing as it's Hawaii's 50th birthday, this is as good a time as any to kick off my long-promised Introduction to Hawai'i series (i.e., What you need to know about Hawaii so the locals don't think you're an idiot). I will be working on those this weekend.

Happy 50th birthday, Hawai'i!

Introduction to Hawai'i series:

1. Geography
2. History
3. Language
4. Wildlife
5. Odds and ends

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