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Honolulu, Hawaii
City and County of Honolulu
Clockwise from top: Downtown, Pearl Harbor, statue of King Kamehameha I in front of Aliʻiolani Hale downtown, Diamond Head, waterfront on Waikīkī Beach and Honolulu Hale (City Hall)
Clockwise from top: Downtown, Pearl Harbor, statue of King Kamehameha I in front of Aliʻiolani Hale downtown, Diamond Head, waterfront on Waikīkī Beach and Honolulu Hale (City Hall)
Flag of Honolulu, Hawaii
Flag
Official seal of Honolulu, Hawaii
Seal
Nickname(s): 
Crossroads of the Pacific
Sheltered Bay
HNL
The Big Pineapple
Town ("Town" is a commonly used local nickname for Honolulu, in reference to the fact that the Honolulu, or "Town" side of the island is the most urbanized and dense part of Oʻahu.)
Paradise
Motto(s): 
Haʻaheo No ʻO Honolulu (The Pride of Honolulu)[1]
Location within Honolulu County in Hawaii
Location within Honolulu County in Hawaii
Honolulu is located in Pacific Ocean/ˌhɒnəˈll/;[7] Hawaiian: [honoˈlulu]) is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Hawaii. It is an unincorporated part of and the county seat of the City and County of Honolulu along the southeast coast of the island of Oʻahu.[a] The city is the main gateway to Hawaiʻi and a major portal into the United States. The city is also a major hub for international business and military defense, as well as being host to a diverse variety of east–west and Pacific cultures, cuisine, and traditions.

Honolulu is the westernmost and southernmost major U.S. city. For statistical purposes, the United States Census Bureau recognizes the approximate area commonly referred to as "City of Honolulu" (not to be confused with the "City and County") as a census county division (CCD).[9] Honolulu is a major financial center of the islands and of the Pacific Ocean. The population of the Honolulu census designated place (CDP) was 345,064 as of the 2019 population estimate,[4] while the Honolulu CCD was 390,738.[10]

Honolulu means "sheltered harbor"[11] or "calm port" in Hawaiian.[12] The old name is Kou, a district roughly encompassing the area from Nuʻuanu Avenue to Alakea Street and from Hotel Street to Queen Street which is the heart of the present downtown district.[13] The city has been the capital of the Hawaiian Islands since 1845 and gained historical recognition following the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan near the city on December 7, 1941.

As of 2015, Honolulu was ranked high on world livability rankings, and was also ranked as the 3rd safest city in the U.S.[14][15] It is also the most populated Oceanian city outside Australasia and ranks second to Auckland as the most-populous city in Polynesia.[16][17]

History

Port of Honolulu, as seen by German-Russian artist Louis Choris in 1816
Queen Street, Honolulu, 1856, by George Henry Burgess

Evidence of the first settlement of Honolulu by the original Polynesian migrants to the archipelago comes from oral histories and artifacts. These indicate that there was a settlement where Honolulu now stands in the 11th century.[18] After Kamehameha I conquered Oʻahu in the Battle of Nuʻuanu at Nuʻuanu Pali, he moved his royal court from the Island of Hawaiʻi to Waikīkī in 1804. His court relocated in 1809 to what is now downtown Honolulu. The capital was moved back to Kailua-Kona in 1812.

In 1794, Captain William Brown of Great Britain was the first foreigner to sail into what is now Honolulu Harbor.[19] More foreign ships followed, making the port of Honolulu a focal point for merchant ships traveling between North America and Asia.

In 1845, Kamehameha III moved the permanent capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom from Lahaina on Maui to Honolulu. He and the kings that followed him transformed Honolulu into a modern capital,[20] erecting buildings such as St. Andrew's Cathedral, ʻIolani Palace, and Aliʻiōlani Hale. At the same time, Honolulu became the center of commerce in the islands, with descendants of American missionaries establishing major businesses in downtown Honolulu.[21]

Despite the turbulent history of the late 19th century and early 20th century, such as the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, Hawaiʻi's subsequent annexation by the United States in 1898, followed by a large fire in 1900, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Honolulu remained the capital, largest city, and main airport and seaport of the Hawaiian Islands.[22]

United States Census Bureau recognizes the approximate area commonly referred to as "City of Honolulu" (not to be confused with the "City and County") as a census county division (CCD).[9] Honolulu is a major financial center of the islands and of the Pacific Ocean. The population of the Honolulu census designated place (CDP) was 345,064 as of the 2019 population estimate,[4] while the Honolulu CCD was 390,738.[10]

Honolulu means "sheltered harbor"[11] or "calm port" in Hawaiian.[12] The old name is Kou, a district roughly encompassing the area from Nuʻuanu Avenue to Alakea Street and from Hotel Street to Queen Street which is the heart of the present downtown district.[13] The city has been the capital of the Hawaiian Islands since 1845 and gained historical recognition following the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan near the city on December 7, 1941.

As of 2015, Honolulu was ranked high on world livability rankings, and was also ranked as the 3rd safest city in the U.S.[14][15] It is also the most populated Oceanian city outside Australasia and ranks second to Auckland as the most-populous city in Polynesia.[16][17]

Evidence of the first settlement of Honolulu by the original Polynesian migrants to the archipelago comes from oral histories and artifacts. These indicate that there was a settlement where Honolulu now stands in the 11th century.[18] After Kamehameha I conquered Oʻahu in the Battle of Nuʻuanu at Nuʻuanu Pali, he moved his royal court from the Island of Hawaiʻi to Waikīkī in 1804. His court relocated in 1809 to what is now downtown Honolulu. The capital was moved back to Kailua-Kona in 1812.

In 1794, Captain William Brown of Great Britain was the first foreigner to sail into what is now Honolulu Harbor.[19] More foreign ships followed, making the port of Honolulu a focal point for merchant ships traveling between North America and Asia.

In 1845, Kamehameha III moved the permanent capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom from Lahaina on Maui to Honolulu. He and the kings that followed him transformed Honolulu into a modern capital,[20] erecting buildings such as St. Andrew's Cathedral, ʻIolani Palace, and Aliʻiōlani Hale. At the same time, Honolulu became the center of commerce in the islands, with descendants of American missionaries establishing major businesses in downtown Honolulu.[21]

Despite the turbulent history of the late 19th century and early 20th century, such as the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, Hawaiʻi's subsequent annexation by the United States in 1898, followed by a large fire in 1900, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Honolulu remained the capital, largest city, and main airport and seaport of the Hawaiian Islands.[22]

A view of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 from Japanese planes. The torpedo explosion in the center is on the USS West Virginia.

An economic and tourism boom following statehood brought rapid economic growth to Honolulu and Hawaiʻi. Modern air travel brings, as of 2007, 7.6 million visitors annually to the islands, with 62.3% entering at Honolulu International Airport.[23] Today, Honolulu is a modern city with numerous high-rise buildings, and Waikīkī is the center of the tourism industry in Hawaiʻi, with thousands of hotel rooms. The UK consulting firm Mercer, in a 2009 assessment "conducted to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments", ranked Honolulu 29th worldwide in quality of living; the survey factored in political stability, personal freedom, sanitation, crime, housing, the natural environment, recreation, banking facilities, availability of consumer goods, education, and public services including transportation.[24]

Geography

Astronaut photograph of western Honolulu, HNL Airport, and Pearl Harbor taken from the International Space Station

According to the United States Census Bureau, the Urban Honolulu Census-designated place (CDP) has a total area of 68.4 square miles (177.2 km2). 60.5 square miles (156.7 km2) of it (88.44%) is land, and 7.9 square miles (20.5 km2) of it (11.56%) is water.[25]

Honolulu is the most remote major city in the world.[citation needed] The closest location on the mainland United States to Honolulu is the Point Arena Lighthouse in California, at 2,045 nautical miles (3,787 km).[26] (Nautical vessels require some additional distance to circumnavigate Makapuʻu Point.) However, islands off the Mexican coast, and part of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska are slightly closer to Honolulu than the mainland. The volcanic field of the Honolulu Volcanics is partially located inside the city.[27]

Neighborhoods, boroughs, and districts

Honolulu as seen from the International Space Station
Downtown at Bishop and King streets, with First Hawaiian Center (left) and Bankoh Center (right)