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Hawaii State Flag Hawaii

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The Geography of Hawaii

Click here  for a few definitions.

Longitude / Latitude Longitude: 154° 40' W to 162° W
Latitude: 16° 55' N to 23° N
Hawaii map
Hawai`i base and elevation maps
Length x Width The world's longest island chain, the Hawaii Islands, is 1,523 miles long.
Geographic Center
Explanation
The geographic center of Hawaii is located off the southwestern shore of Molokai west of Lanai.
Longitude: 157° 15.6'W
Latitude: 20° 57.1'N
Borders Hawaii is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean about 2,400 miles southwest of the Continental United States.
Total Area The Hawaiian Islands cover 6,459 square miles. Hawaii is ranked as the 47th largest of the 50 states ahead of Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.
Land Area 6,423 square miles of Hawaii are land areas.
Water Area 36 square miles of Hawaii are covered by water.
Highest Point The highest point in Hawaii is Mauna Kea reaching 13,796 feet into the sky. For more information, visit the U.S. Geological Survey's page about Mauna Kea.
Lowest Point The lowest point in Hawaii is at water's (Pacific Ocean) edge; sea level.
Mean Elevation The Mean Elevation of the state of Hawaii is 3,030 feet above sea level.
Major Rivers Wailuku River (Hawaii), Anahulu River (Oahu)
Major Lakes Salt Lake

The Land

Hawai'i is the only state that is not part of the North American continent. It is also the southernmost of the states, lying about as far south as central Mexico.

Hawai'i is actually a chain of 132 islands, each of which is the top of a submerged volcanic mountain, that can be divided into three land groups.

Group 1 consists of the eight main islands, the islands we usually think of when we think of Hawai'i. All of the main islands, with the exception of Kahoolawe, are inhabited.

The remaining 124 islands in groups 2 and 3, only about three square miles in total land area, are not fit for human habitation.

Group 2 consists of the middle islands, tiny islands (islets) of rock.

Group 3 consists of the islands in the northwest, comprised of coral and sand.

The Main Islands

Some of the coastline is comprised of tall cliffs rising straight up from the waters edge. In some places, large rocks of lava protrude from the water along the shore. Most of the beaches on the islands serve up beautiful white sand. Some beaches are covered with black sand, formed when molten lava met the ocean.

Akaka Falls, Hawaii
Akaka Falls, Hawaii
Photo by John Bortniak, NOAA Corps
Hawai`i: Hawaii is the largest of the habitable Hawaiian islands and covers 4,038 square miles. This island was formed by five volcanoes, two of which are still active. Kohala is on the northern side of the island. Hualalai is in the west. Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are toward the center of the island. Kilauea is located on the eastern side of Mauna Loa. Mauna Kea, at 13,796 feet above sea level, is the highest point in the state. Mauna Loa and Kilauea are still active volcanoes and erupt intermittently, sometimes spewing fiery lava streams flowing down the mountains to the sea.

The north and southeastern coast of Hawaii is protected by high cliffs with silvery waterfalls falling over the edge and into the ocean below. Take a virtual field trip of Hawai`i.

Maui: Maui was formed by two volcanoes and is often called the Valley Island because of the many canyons that cut into the two mountains. A low isthmus passes between the two mountains creating a fertile area for growing sugar cane. Haleakala, the highest point on Maui, also contains the world's largest dormant volcanic crater, at least for now. Haleakala is considered active and is expected to erupt sometime within the next 200 years. Take a virtual field trip of Maui.

Kaho`olawe Island
Kaho`olawe Island
Photo by Jack Lockwood
U.S. Geological Survey
March 31, 1984
Kaho`olawe: Kaho`olawe is a small, uninhabited island next to Maui. It is dry and windswept. Take a field trip to the island on a small fishing boat.

Moloka`i: The island of Moloka`i can be roughly divided into three regions according to its physical features. The eastern region is covered with rugged mountains and canyons. The west is a dry plateau. The central area is a fertile plain suitable for growing various crops. Take a virtual field trip of Moloka`i.

Lana`i: Is Pineapple growing country, with 98% of the land owned by the makers of Dole pineapple products.

West coast of O`ahu, south of Kaena Point
Western shore of O`ahu
Waianae Range
Courtesy: National Oceanic &
Atmospheric Administration
O`ahu: O`ahu consists of two mountain ranges; the Koolau Range in the east and the Waianae Range in the west. The valley between these two mountain ranges consists of a fertile, rolling plain and support many sugar and pineapple plantations. A most notable landmark, is the 760-foot extinct volcanic crater, known as Diamond Head, located on the southeastern end of the island at the end of Waikiki. Take a virtual field trip of O`ahu. View this map of O`ahu from the Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center.

Kaua`i: In the center of the island is Kawaikini Peak, rising 5,170 feet and Mount Waialeale, rising 5,080 feet. Mount Waialeale is the rainiest spot on earth, averaging 460 inches of rain a year, and contributing to this island's nickname; the Garden Island. Many streams flow from these mountains to the sea through canyons in the volcanic rock. Waimea canyon has colorful rock walls that are 2,857 feet high. On the northwestern coast are rugged cliffs that make it impossible to build a road around the whole island. Take a virtual field trip of Kaua`i. You may view this map provided by the Hawaii Geographic Information Coordinating Council.

Ni`ihau: Niihau is a private island owned by the Robinson family of Kaua'i. It is nicknamed "The Forbidden Island." The island is a semi-arid island and the climate is dry, though several lakes provide fresh water.

( Hawaii Close-up )

Climate (All temperatures Fahrenheit)
Highest Temperature The highest temperature recorded in Hawaii is 100°, Fahrenheit. This record high was recorded on April 27, 1931 at Pahala.
Lowest Temperature The lowest temperature in Hawaii, 12°, was recorded on May 17, 1979 at Mauna Kea.
Average Temperature Monthly average temperatures range from a high of 87.1 degrees to a low of 65.3 degrees.
Climate Average yearly precipitation of Hawaii, is shown on this chart from United State Geological Survey.
Sources:
The World Almanac of the U.S.A. by Allan Carpenter and Carl Provorse, Copyright © 1998
Lyndon Wester and Pauline N. King, "Hawaii," World Book Online Americas Edition, http://www.worldbookonline.com/wbol/wbPage/na/ar/co/248660, August 14, 2001.
Maps.com http://www.maps.com
The United States Geological Survey Website
To Georgia geography. To Idaho geography.

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