The Geography of the Hawaiian Islands

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Mark Twain once described the Hawaiian Islands as “The loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean”. Hawaii is the most unique of the states of America. To further understand the geography of Hawaii, one must understand how Hawaii was formed, how Hawaii was populated, and understand what Hawaii came to be today.

To begin, Hawaii is the longest chain of islands in the world. It was originally formed by a fissure more than 1600 miles long that lies along the floor of the Pacific Ocean that produced the Hawaiian ridge. Along the ridge then formed individual dorms that formed what we know today as the Hawaiian Islands (Webmaster). It is now over 3,300 kilometers long, made up of longs strings of islands and reefs (US Department of State). The islands begin with the island of Hawaii in the east and end up around the international dateline (US Department of State). Only the eastern 650 kilometers of the state contains islands of many different sizes, as well as almost all of the state’s population (US Department of State). There are eight main islands: Hawaii, Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau. All of the islands are inhabited with the exception of Kahoolawe (Carpenter). There are another 124 islands, which are only about three square miles in total land area, and are not fit for inhabitation (Carpenter). The island is Hawaii itself contains more than two-thirds if the state’s total area (US Department of State). The island of Hawaii was formed by five volcanoes, two of which are still active to this day (Carpenter). Mauna Kea is one of the volcanoes that are still active, and is the highest point in the state, at 13,796 feet above sea level (Carpenter). Also, the location of the islands obviously plays a great role in the climate of the state. The ocean and the isolation of the islands play a big factor in the temperature extremes that the islands experience; Honolulu’s record high is 31°C, while the low is only 13°C (US...
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