Honolulu (; 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. 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). 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, while the Honolulu CCD was 390,738.
Honolulu means "sheltered harbor" or "calm port" in Hawaiian. 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. 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 2nd safest city in the U.S. It is also the most populated Oceanian city outside Australasia and ranks second to Auckland as the most-populous city in Polynesia.
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. 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. 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, 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
Honolulu is the most remote major city in the world. 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). (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.
Honolulu experiences a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen classification BSh), with a mostly dry summer season, due to a rain shadow effect. Temperatures vary little throughout the months, with average high temperatures of 80–90 °F (27–32 °C) and average lows of 65–75 °F (18–24 °C) throughout the year. Temperatures reach or exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on an average 38 days annually, with lows in the upper 50s °F (14–15 °C) occurring once or twice a year. The highest recorded temperature was 95 °F (35 °C) on September 19, 1994 and August 31, 2019. The lowest recorded temperature was 52 °F (11 °C) on February 16, 1902, and January 20, 1969. With high temperatures and humidity, there is a vast tropical influence on the climate, although rainfall falls short of that classification.
The annual average rainfall is 17.10 inches (434 millimeters), which mainly occurs during the winter months of October through early April, with very little rainfall during the summer. However, both seasons experience a similar number of rainy days. Light showers occur in summer, while heavier rain falls during winter. Honolulu has an average of 278 sunny days and 90 rainy days per year.
Although the city is situated in the tropics, hurricanes are quite rare. The last recorded hurricane that hit near Honolulu was Category 4 Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Tornadoes are also uncommon and usually strike once every 15 years. Waterspouts off the coast are also uncommon, hitting about once every five years.
Honolulu falls under the USDA 12a Plant Hardiness zone.
The average temperature of the sea ranges from 75.7 °F (24.3 °C) in March to 80.4 °F (26.9 °C) in September.
The population of Honolulu was 390,738 according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Of those, 192,781 (49.3%) were male and 197,957 (50.7%) were female. The median age for males was 40.0 and 43.0 for females; the overall median age was 41.3. Approximately 84.7% of the total population was 16 years and over; 82.6% were 18 years and over, 78.8% were 21 years and over, 21.4% were 62 years and over, and 17.8% were 65 years and over.
In terms of race and ethnicity, 54.8% were Asian, 17.9% were White, 1.5% were Black or African American, 0.2% were American Indian or Alaska Native, 8.4% were Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 0.8% were from "some other race", and 16.3% were from two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 5.4% of the population. In 1970, the Census Bureau reported Honolulu's population as 33.9% white and 53.7% Asian and Pacific Islander.
Asian Americans represent the majority of Honolulu's population. The Asian ethnic groups are Japanese (19.9%), Filipinos (13.2%), Chinese (10.4%), Koreans (4.3%), Vietnamese (2.0%), Asian Indians (0.3%), Laotians (0.3%), Thais (0.2%), Cambodians (0.1%), and Indonesians (0.1%). People solely of Native Hawaiian ancestry made up 3.2% of the population. Samoan Americans made up 1.5% of the population, Marshallese people make up 0.5% of the city's population, and Tongan people comprise 0.3% of its population. People of Guamanian or Chamorro descent made up 0.2% of the population and numbered 841 residents.
Honolulu's urban area was the fourth densest in the United States according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
The largest city and airport in the Hawaiian Islands, Honolulu acts as a natural gateway to the islands' large tourism industry, which brings millions of visitors and contributes $10 billion annually to the local economy. Honolulu's location in the Pacific also makes it a large business and trading hub, particularly between the East and the West. Other important aspects of the city's economy include military defense, research and development, and manufacturing.
Among the companies based in Honolulu are:
Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air, and Aloha Air Cargo are headquartered in the city. Prior to its dissolution, Aloha Airlines was headquartered in the city. At one time Mid-Pacific Airlines had its headquarters on the property of Honolulu International Airport.
In 2009, Honolulu had a 4.5% increase in the average price of rent, maintaining it in the second most expensive rental market ranking among 210 U.S. metropolitan areas.
Since no national bank chains have any branches in Hawaiʻi, many visitors and new residents use different banks. First Hawaiian Bank is the largest and oldest bank in Hawaiʻi and their headquarters are at the First Hawaiian Center, the tallest building in the State of Hawaiʻi.
The Bishop Museum is the largest of Honolulu's museums. It is endowed with the state's largest collection of natural history specimens and the world's largest collection of Hawaiiana and Pacific culture artifacts. The Honolulu Zoo is the main zoological institution in Hawai'i while the Waikīkī Aquarium is a working marine biology laboratory. The Waikīkī Aquarium is partnered with the University of Hawai'i and other universities worldwide. Established for appreciation and botany, Honolulu is home to several gardens: Foster Botanical Garden, Liliʻuokalani Botanical Garden, Walker Estate, among others.
Established in 1900, the Honolulu Symphony is the second oldest US symphony orchestra west of the Rocky Mountains. Other classical music ensembles include the Hawaiʻi Opera Theatre. Honolulu is also a center for Hawaiian music. The main music venues include the Hawaiʻi Theatre, the Neal Blaisdell Center Concert Hall and Arena, and the Waikīkī Shell.
Honolulu also includes several venues for live theater, including the Diamond Head Theatre and Kumu Kahua Theatre.
Various institutions for the visual arts are located in Honolulu.
The Honolulu Museum of Art is endowed with the largest collection of Asian and Western art in Hawaiʻi. It also has the largest collection of Islamic art, housed at the Shangri La estate. Since the merger of the Honolulu Academy of Arts and The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu (now called the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House) in 2011, the museum is also the only contemporary art museum in the state. The contemporary collections are housed at main campus (Spalding House) in Makiki and a multi-level gallery in downtown Honolulu at the First Hawaiian Center. The museum hosts a film and video program dedicated to arthouse and world cinema in the museum's Doris Duke Theatre, named for the museum's historic patroness Doris Duke.
The Hawaiʻi State Art Museum (also downtown) boasts pieces by local artists as well as traditional Hawaiian art. The museum is administered by the Hawaiʻi State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
Honolulu also annually holds the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival (HIFF). It showcases some of the best films from producers all across the Pacific Rim and is the largest "East meets West" style film festival of its sort in the United States.
Honolulu's tropical climate lends itself to year-round activities. In 2004, Men's Fitness magazine named Honolulu the fittest city in the United States. Honolulu has three large road races:
Ironman Hawaiʻi was first held in Honolulu. It was the first ever Ironman triathlon event and is also the world championship.
The Waikiki Roughwater Swim race is held annually off the beach of Waikiki. Founded by Jim Cotton in 1970, the course is 2.384 miles (3.837 km) and spans from the New Otani Hotel to the Hilton Rainbow Tower.
Fans of spectator sports in Honolulu generally support the football, volleyball, basketball, rugby union, rugby league, and baseball programs of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. High school sporting events, especially football, are especially popular.
Honolulu has no professional sports teams. It was the home of the Hawaiʻi Islanders (Pacific Coast League, 1961–87), The Hawaiians (World Football League, 1974–75), Team Hawaiʻi (North American Soccer League, 1977), and the Hawaiian Islanders (af2, 2002–04).
The NCAA football Hawaiʻi Bowl is played in Honolulu. Honolulu has also hosted the NFL's annual Pro Bowl each February from 1980 to 2009. After the 2010 and 2015 games were played in Miami Gardens and Glendale, respectively, the Pro Bowl was once again in Honolulu from 2011 to 2014 with 2016 the most recent. From 1993 to 2008, Honolulu hosted Hawaiʻi Winter Baseball, featuring minor league players from Major League Baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball, Korea Baseball Organization, and independent leagues.
In 2018, the Honolulu Little League team qualified for that year's Little League World Series tournament. The team went undefeated en route to the United States championship game, where it bested Georgia's Peachtree City American Little League team 3-0. In the world championship game, the team faced off against South Korea's South Seoul Little League team. Hawaii pitcher Ka'olu Holt threw a complete game shutout while striking out 8, and Honolulu Little League - again by a score of 3-0 - secured the victory, capturing the 2018 Little League World Series championship as well as Hawaii's third overall title at the Little League World Series.
Venues for spectator sports in Honolulu include:
Aloha Stadium, a venue for American football and soccer, is located in Halawa near Pearl Harbor, just outside Honolulu.
Kirk Caldwell was elected mayor of Honolulu County on November 6, 2012, and began serving as the county's 14th mayor on January 2, 2013. The municipal offices of the City and County of Honolulu, including Honolulu Hale, the seat of the city and county, are located in the Capitol District, as are the Hawaiʻi state government buildings.
The Capitol District is within the Honolulu census county division (CCD), the urban area commonly regarded as the "City" of Honolulu. The Honolulu CCD is located on the southeast coast of Oʻahu between Makapuu and Halawa. The division boundary follows the Koʻolau crestline, so Makapuʻu Beach is in the Ko'olaupoko District. On the west, the division boundary follows Halawa Stream, then crosses Red Hill and runs just west of Aliamanu Crater, so that Aloha Stadium, Pearl Harbor (with the USS Arizona Memorial), and Hickam Air Force Base are actually all located in the island's Ewa CCD.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety operates the Oʻahu Community Correctional Center, the jail for the island of Oʻahu, in Honolulu CCD.
The United States Postal Service operates post offices in Honolulu. The main Honolulu Post Office is located by the international airport at 3600 Aolele Street. Federal Detention Center, Honolulu, operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, is in the CDP.
Several countries have consular facilities in Honolulu. They include consulates of Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Federated States of Micronesia, Australia, and the Marshall Islands.
Colleges and universities in Honolulu include Honolulu Community College, Kapiʻolani Community College, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Chaminade University, and Hawaiʻi Pacific University. UH Mānoa houses the main offices of the University of Hawaiʻi System.
Honolulu is home to three renowned international affairs research institutions. The Pacific Forum, one of the world's leading Asia-Pacific policy research institutes and one of the first organizations in the United States to focus exclusively on Asia, has its main office on Bishop Street in downtown Honolulu. The East–West Center (EWC), an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States, is headquartered in Mānoa, Honolulu. The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS), a U.S. Department of Defense institute is based in Waikīkī, Honolulu. APCSS addresses regional and global security issues and supports the U.S. Pacific Command by developing and sustaining relationships among security practitioners and national security establishments throughout the region.
Hawaiʻi Department of Education operates public schools in Honolulu. Public high schools within the CDP area include Wallace Rider Farrington, Kaiser, Kaimuki, Kalani, Moanalua, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt.
Private schools include Academy of the Pacific, Damien Memorial School, Hawaiʻi Baptist Academy, ʻIolani School, Lutheran High School of Hawaiʻi, Kamehameha Schools, Maryknoll School, Mid-Pacific Institute, La Pietra, Punahou School, Sacred Hearts Academy, St. Andrew's Priory School, Saint Francis School, Saint Louis School, the Education Laboratory School, Saint Patrick School, Trinity Christian School, and Varsity International School. Hawaii has one of the nation's highest rate of private school attendance.
Hawaiʻi State Public Library System operates public libraries. The Hawaiʻi State Library in the CDP serves as the main library of the system, while the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, also in the CDP area, serves handicapped and blind people.
Branches in the CDP area include Aiea, Aina Haina, Ewa Beach, Hawaiʻi Kai, Kahuku, Kailua, Kaimuki, Kalihi-Palama, Kaneohe, Kapolei, Liliha, Mānoa, McCully-Moiliili, Mililani, Moanalua, Wahiawa, Waialua, Waianae, Waikīkī-Kapahulu, Waimanalo, and Waipahu.
The Hawaiʻi Japanese School – Rainbow Gakuen (ハワイレインボー学園 Hawai Reinbō Gakuen), a supplementary weekend Japanese school, holds its classes in Kaimuki Middle School in Honolulu and has its offices in another building in Honolulu. The school serves overseas Japanese nationals. In addition Honolulu has other weekend programs for the Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish languages.
Honolulu is served by one daily newspaper (the Honolulu Star-Advertiser), Honolulu Magazine, several radio stations and television stations, among other media. Local news agency and CNN-affiliate Hawaiʻi News Now broadcasts and is headquartered out of Honolulu.
Honolulu and the island of Oʻahu has also been the location for many film and television projects, including Hawaiʻi Five-0 and Lost.
Located at the western end of the CDP, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) is the principal aviation gateway to the state of Hawaiʻi. Kalaeloa Airport is primarily a commuter facility used by unscheduled air taxis, general aviation and transient and locally based military aircraft.
Honolulu has been ranked as having the nation's worst traffic congestion, beating former record holder Los Angeles. Drivers waste on average over 58 hours per year on congested roadways. The following freeways, part of the Interstate Highway System serve Honolulu:
Other major highways that link Honolulu CCD with other parts of the Island of Oahu are:
Like most major American cities, the Honolulu metropolitan area experiences heavy traffic congestion during rush hours, especially to and from the western suburbs of Kapolei, ʻEwa Beach, Aiea, Pearl City, Waipahu, and Mililani.
There is a Hawaiʻi Electric Vehicle Demonstration Project (HEVDP).
In November 2010, voters approved a charter amendment to create a public transit authority to oversee the planning, construction, operation and future extensions to Honolulu's future rail system. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) currently includes a 10-member board of directors; three members appointed by the mayor, three members selected by the Honolulu City Council, and the city and state transportation directors. The opening of the Honolulu Rail Transit is delayed until approximately 2020, as HART canceled the initial bids for the first nine stations and intends to rebid the work as three packages of three stations each, and allow more time for construction in the hope that increased competition on smaller contracts will drive down costs; initial bids ranged from $294.5 million to $320.8 million, far surpassing HART's budget of $184 million.
Established by former Mayor Frank F. Fasi as the replacement for the Honolulu Rapid Transit Company (HRT), Honolulu's TheBus system was honored in 1994–1995 and 2000–2001 by the American Public Transportation Association as "America's Best Transit System". TheBus operates 107 routes serving Honolulu and most major cities and towns on Oʻahu. TheBus comprises a fleet of 531 buses, and is run by the non-profit corporation Oʻahu Transit Services in conjunction with the city Department of Transportation Services. As of 2006, Honolulu was ranked 4th for highest per-capita use of mass transit in the United States.
The island also features TheHandi-Van. available for riders who require para transit operations. To be eligible for these parantransit service, individuals must meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). TheHandi-Van has a fare of $2.00, available Mondays - Sundays from 4:00 am – 1:00 am. There is a 24 hours per day service but only within 3/4 of a mile of TheBus route 2 and route 40. TheHandi-Van comprises a fleet of 160 buses. Additionally the parantransit branch also run's Human Services Transportation Coordination (HSTCP), which mainly provides transportation for people with disabilities, older adults, and people with limited incomes, assisted by the Committee for Accessible Transportation (CAT). Both organizations work together to provide transportation for elderly and persons with disabilities.
Currently, there is no urban rail transit system in Honolulu, although electric street railways were operated in Honolulu by the now-defunct Honolulu Rapid Transit Company prior to World War II. Predecessors to the Honolulu Rapid Transit Company were the Honolulu Rapid Transit and Land Company (began 1903) and Hawaiian Tramways (began 1888).
The City and County of Honolulu is currently constructing the 20-mile (32 km) rail transit line that will connect Honolulu with cities and suburban areas near Pearl Harbor and in the Leeward and West Oahu regions. The Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project is aimed at alleviating traffic congestion for West Oʻahu commuters while being integral in the westward expansion of the metropolitan area. The project, however, has been criticized by opponents of rail for its cost, delays, and potential environmental impacts, but the line is expected to have large ridership.
Since June 28, 2017, Bikeshare Hawaii administers the bicycle sharing program in O'ahu while Secure Bike Share operates the Biki system. Most Biki stations are located between Chinatown/Downtown and Diamond Head, however an expansion in late 2018 added more stations towards the University of Hawai'i Manoa Campus, Kapi'olani Community College, Makiki, and Kalihi area. The GoBiki.org website has a Biki stations map.
According to the 2016 American Community Survey (five-year average), 56 percent of Urban Honolulu residents commuted to work by driving alone, 13.8 percent carpooled, 11.7 used public transportation, and 8.7 percent walked. About 5.7 commuted by bike, taxi, motorcycle or other forms of transportation, while 4.1 percent worked at home.
The city of Honolulu has a high percentage of households without a motor vehicle. In 2015, 16.6 percent of Honolulu households lacked a car, which increased slightly to 17.2 percent in 2016 – in comparison, the United States national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Honolulu averaged 1.4 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.
Honolulu's sister cities are:
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