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The Kingdom of Hawaii, or just Hawaii, is a sovereign state and Polynesian island nation located in the North Pacific Ocean and Oceania. Hawaii is a very isolated nation; the closest land is over 2,000 miles away, in California. Hawaii currently lays a claim to the atoll of Sikaiana.
The Kingdom of Hawaii was formed in 1795 with the unification of the Hawaiian Islands under Kamehameha I. In the 19th century, the French, which dominated Oceania, took an interest in Hawaii; however, only one serious invasion attempt was made, despite several threats and raids. Hawaii was occupied during the Pacific War, for its strategic location about halfway across the Pacific. Upon Japan's defeat, Hawaii's independence returned. Today, although it is still a developing country with a large agriculture sector in its economy, Hawaii is one of the most developed countries in the Pacific islands, alongside New Guinea, Aotearoa, and Fiji.
Ancient Hawaii (800-1778)
Based on archaeological evidence, the earliest habitation of the Hawaiian Islands dates to around 300 CE, probably by Polynesian settlers from the Marquesas Islands. A second wave of migration from Raiatea and Bora Bora took place in the 11th century. The date of the human discovery and habitation of the Hawaiian Islands is the subject of academic debate. Some archaeologists and historians believe there was an early settlement from the Marquesas. They think it was a later wave of immigrants from Tahiti around 1000 CE who introduced a new line of high chiefs, the kapu system, the practice of human sacrifice, and the building of heiau. This later immigration is detailed in Hawaiian mythology (moʻolelo) about Paʻao. Other authors say there is no archaeological or linguistic evidence for a later influx of Tahitian settlers and that Paʻao must be regarded as a myth.
The history of the islands is marked by a slow, steady growth in population and the size of the chiefdoms, which grew to encompass whole islands. Local chiefs, called aliʻi, ruled their settlements, and launched wars to extend their influence and defend their communities from predatory rivals. Ancient Hawaii was a caste-based society, much like that of Hindus in India.
It is possible that Spanish explorers arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in the 16th century. Ruy López de Villalobos commanded a fleet of six ships that left Acapulco in 1542 bound for the Philippines with a Spanish sailor named Juan Gaetano aboard as pilot. Depending on the interpretation, Gaetano's reports describe an encounter with either Hawaiʻi or the Marshall Islands. If de Villalobos' crew spotted Hawaiʻi, Gaetano would be considered the first European to see the islands. Some scholars have dismissed these claims due to a lack of credibility.
Spanish archives contain a chart that depicts islands at the same latitude as Hawaiʻi but with a longitude ten degrees east of the islands. In this manuscript, the island of Maui is named La Desgraciada (The Unfortunate Island), and what appears to be Hawaiʻi Island is named La Mesa (The Table). Islands resembling Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokai are named Los Monjes (The Monks). For two-and-a-half centuries, Spanish galleons crossed the Pacific from Mexico along a route that passed south of Hawaiʻi on their way to Manila. The exact route was kept secret to protect the Spanish trade monopoly against competing powers.
However it was discovered, the Hawaiian islands attracted many European visitors: explorers, traders, and eventually whalers, who found the islands to be a convenient harbor and source of supplies.
Pre-Pacific War - Kingdom of Hawaii (1795-1941)
During the 1780s and 1790s, chiefs often fought for power. After a series of battles that ended in 1795, all inhabited islands were subjugated under a single ruler, who became known as King Kamehameha the Great. He then established the House of Kamehameha.
The French Invasion (1849)
In August 1849, French admiral Louis Tromelin arrived in Honolulu Harbor with the La Poursuivante and Gassendi. De Tromelin made ten demands to King Kamehameha III on August 22, mainly demanding that full religious rights be given to Catholics (a decade earlier, during the French Incident the ban on Catholicism had been lifted, but Catholics still enjoyed only partial religious rights). On August 25, the demands had not been met. After a second warning was made to the civilians, French troops overwhelmed the skeleton force and captured Honolulu Fort, spiked the coastal guns and destroyed all other weapons they found (mainly muskets and ammunition). They raided government buildings and general property in Honolulu, causing damage that amounted to $100,000. After the raids the invasion force withdrew to the fort. De Tromelin eventually recalled his men and left Hawaii on September 5.
Pacific War (1941-1947)
In 1941, the Pacific War broke out. Hawaii was quick to fall in early 1942, occupied by the Japanese. Thankfully, the French managed to push the Japanese out of Hawaii in 1945, liberating the islands once more. The Allies would eventually defeat Japan in 1947.
Modern Hawaii (1947-present)
Starting around the time of the Pacific War, Hawaii saw a large influx of Chinese immigration; Chinese is a prominent culture, along with traditional Hawaiian. Chinese is also the second-largest ethnic group in Hawaii.
Hawaii's economy has grown in recent years in growing industries such as tourism and shipping lanes. Today, it is one of the most developed countries in the Pacific islands.