Hawaii is a tropical state, home to stunning natural beauty and cultural traditions. While the pandemic has impacted travel to Hawaii, its tourism industry is now back up and running, with visitor numbers actually increasing from pre-pandemic levels. The average trip spending is also up, reflecting the fact that more people are visiting Hawaii. However, visitors from Asia still haven’t returned to Hawaii in the same numbers as before the pandemic.

Hawaii was formally annexed by the United States in 1898, in part to use as a base for fighting the Spanish in the Philippines and Guam in the American War of Independence. However, some Native Hawaiians have not accepted this annexation and continue to fight for Hawaiian self-government.

The islands are exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range, the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, which was formed over millions of years by volcanic activity. The archipelago is situated on the Pacific Plate, between two fault lines that produce eruptive activity. The islands have a varied topography that includes misty plateaus, craggy ocean cliffs, tropical coastal areas, lava deserts and fern forests.

The first contacts between the Hawaiians and Westerners came in the 17th century, when missionaries and whaling ships began to visit the islands. The influx of Westerners brought with it diseases like smallpox, measles and tuberculosis that decimated the indigenous population. King Kamehameha united the islanders under his rule in 1810. He also created a constitution that gave the government the executive, legislative and judicial branches, although he retained ultimate power over the islands. The new government established the rights of citizens and sent representatives to the United States and Europe.

In the early 19th century, Queen Liliuokalani tried to reverse this constitution by declaring herself as the absolute monarch. A committee of businesspeople, lawyers and residents, led by John L. Stevens, organised a military coup to overthrow her. This was known as the Committee of Safety, and the deposed queen was imprisoned in the Iolani Palace.

A leis is a traditional Hawaiian garland of flowers, shells, seeds or other items that may be strung together and worn as a symbol of peace, love, honor or friendship. The most common flower is the hibiscus, but the list of possible materials extends to almost any plant found in the islands. Leis are worn by both men and women in Hawaii, and they are used for special occasions such as weddings or funerals.

Hawaii is renowned for its beaches, with soft white sand, gently rolling waves and clear blue waters. The water at some of the more sheltered beaches is even warm enough for swimming all year round. The most popular beaches are in Honolulu, including Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head Beach. Other beaches are found on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Molokai. Each of these islands has its own special characteristics and charms, but all the beaches are pristine and uncrowded.

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