The Hawaiian Islands are incredibly beautiful, but everyone knows that. The whole world has heard that they’re full of sandy beaches, green forests, great food, a unique culture, friendly people, and much more.
However, there are quite a few quirky facts about the islands that you might not know. It would take a volume of books to list everything interesting, but this should give you an idea of the secrets hidden in this little dreamland in the Pacific.
The United States may not be a country that’s particularly fond of royalty, but Hawaii has always played by its own rules. So, there’s a fancy building in Honolulu called the ʻIolani Palace, and it was home to the royal family until 1893. Hawaii is no longer a kingdom, and it’s now ruled by a government similar to all the other states. But, you can still visit the palace, as it’s now a museum. The house was inspired by the fancy palaces of Europe, so it’s definitely worth seeing.
Who Needs More Than 12 Letters?
The people of Hawaii have their own language, and it’s named after the biggest island. It was quite popular in the past, but now both English and Hawaiian are official languages of the state. One of the most interesting facts about the language is that it only has 13 characters – 12 letters and a symbol. Despite the pride of the locals, the number of native speakers has dropped so low that many are worried the language will disappear altogether.
Wouldn’t you like to take on the challenge of learning it? After all, you won’t have a long, complicated alphabet to deal with!
Widest US State
The islands themselves may be smaller than most of the other states, but the group together makes up the widest of all 50 in the US. The distance between the big island of Hawaii and the Niihau at the other end is about 1,500 miles. Much of the space in the middle is full of beautiful water, but you can’t really complain about that.
There Isn’t a Bigger Volcano
The big island of Hawaii is famous for being made up of five volcanoes, and the biggest one is something that you should know about. Mauna Loa, as it’s called, is an active shield volcano, and its size earns it the prize as the world’s largest active volcano. It’s been erupting for a minimum of 700,000 years, and it probably burst out of the ocean about 400,000 years ago. It’s been relatively calm lately, but scientists still use it as a great test subject to learn more about volcanoes.
Or a Taller Mountain…
But, if a massive volcano isn’t enough to impress you, Hawaii also has the tallest mountain on Earth!
Wait, what about little old Mount Everest?
The Himalayan giant is the tallest mountain above the ground at 29,035 feet, but Mauna Kea still manages to beat it. It isn’t as dramatic because its summit is only 13,802 feet above sea level, but it doesn’t stop when it hits the water. The mountain continues down far beneath the ocean, so its total size from the base is more than 33,000 feet. You can surely trick someone with that in a trivia contest.
It Gave the Name for Wikipedia
A “wiki” is an internet site that lets users collaborate on the content, and the most famous one is Wikipedia. But, did you know that one of the internet’s biggest sites has Hawaii to thank for its name? The first wiki was created in Oregon by a man named Ward Cunningham, and he named it after the “Wiki Wiki Shuttle” that he rode at Honolulu International Airport. The word means “quick” in the Hawaiian language, and now it has spread globally.
What Time is It?
Hawaii lives in its own little world to such an extreme extent that it even has its own time zone. The Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone came into being in 1947 to give a more accurate time for the islanders. It’s 10 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time, and it doesn’t observe daylight saving time.
All the Telescopes
Being located in the middle of the ocean makes for long flights to visit the island, but it also gets away from nearly all light pollution on the planet. For this reason, it has more telescopes and scientific observatories than anywhere else on Earth. There’s even a construction project in place to build the world’s largest telescope on Mauna Kea, and it should start looking at the sky in 2018.
There are continuous volcanic eruptions happening in Hawaii, and that means it’s the only state that’s actually growing. That’s great news if you want to move here and have more space for yourself!