Hawaii
 
 
 
 
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Learn before you travel. This section of Fun Easy English focuses on facts and other cool stuff about your favorite U.S. state. This is great English reading practice. This page focuses on the state of Hawaii.
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Hawaii

Known as the "Aloha State" (in Hawaiian, "aloha" can mean "hello"), Hawaii is a group of volcanic islands in the central Pacific Ocean that together became the 50th state in 1959. The state's name is possibly derived from a native Hawaiian word for homeland, hawaiki or owhyhee. Today, Hawaii, whose capital is Honolulu, is often called the "Crossroads of the Pacific" and is a popular vacation spot. The colorful hibiscus is the state flower.
Flag of HawaiiHawaii State Flag


The flag of Hawai'i resembles the Union Jack of Great Britain because many of King Kamehameha's advisors were British and the islands were once placed under England's protection.

Eight horizontal stripes represent the eight major islands of Hawai'i. This flag has served as the flag of the kingdom, republic, territory, and the state of Hawai'i.
Source: State Symbols USA
 
The great seal of the state of HawaiiHawaii State Facts

Picture: state seal of Hawaii
State Capital Honolulu
Nickname Aloha State / Paradise of the Pacific
Motto Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.)
Statehood August 21, 1959 (50th)
Origin of Name Possibly based on native Hawaiian word for homeland, "Owhyhee."
Largest Cities Honolulu, Hilo, Kailua, Kaneohe, Pearl City
Border States None
Area 6,423 sq. mi.; 47th largest
State Bird Nene (Hawaiian goose)
State Flower Pua Aloalo (hibiscus brackenridgei)
State Tree Kukui - Candlenut (aleurites moluccana)
State Song Hawaii Ponoi - Hawaii's Own
Map showing the location of HawaiiTravel and tourism site for Hawaii - This state travel and territorial tourism site provides ideas for your vacations, meetings, and more.
Hawaii Stories
 
King Kamehameha Celebration

Did you know that a long line of monarchs once ruled Hawaii? King Kamehameha I was one member of this royal line. He was born in North Kohala on the island of Hawaii, and it's estimated that he was born between 1748 and 1761. His childhood was spent in seclusion with foster parents who trained him in the skills of warfare and prepared him for his role as warrior-king of the island nation.

Although Kamehameha lived at the same time as Napoleon and George Washington, they were very different kinds of rulers, mainly because of how different their cultures were. During King Kamehameha I's reign, there was no written language, and the Polynesian religion that was practiced was called Hoomana. This religion was based on a group of gods similar to those of the Romans and Greeks.

Kamehameha I was a very successful king and ruled in peace. He accomplished a great deal by establishing trade with foreign countries, introducing new animal and plant life, and promoting agriculture and industry.

King Kamehameha I died in 1819. Today, every June 11, the giant statue of King Kamehameha shown here is decorated and festivities include parades on every island, arts and crafts fairs, sports challenges, pageantry, and an international hula competition.
 
Okinawan Festival

Can you guess where this young Taiko performer might get some andagi, ashitibichi, and yaki soba?

If you guessed Japan, you're close! Many Japanese people (over 125,000) moved from Japan to Hawaii in search of a better life. They, along with other Asian immigrants, were often employed to work on sugar plantations. Today, there is a strong Japanese culture in Hawaii and it is celebrated with the Okinawan Festival. So, if you're eating andagi you're eating deep-fried doughnuts, if you're eating ashitibichi, you're eating pig's feet soup, and if you're eating yaki soba you're eating noodles stir-fried with vegetables and meat. These are all delicious Okinawan-style dishes that you can try at the festival held each year at Kapiolani Park in the middle of Waikiki.

Along with traditional Okinawan dishes, visitors can experience all kinds of traditional Okinawan culture and arts. The festival includes a parade with a paranku procession. A paranku is a small hand-held drum used in folk performing art called eisa. Other traditional Okinawan musical instruments include the taiko (drum), sanshin (lute) and the koto (zither). Have you ever seen any of these instruments? There is also the Obon, a dance performed by large groups of men, women and children of all ages.
 
Hawaiian Canoe

Have you ever been in a canoe? Can you imagine traveling across the ocean in one? When Captain James Cook asked, "How shall we account for this nation having spread itself to so many detached islands so widely disjoined from each other in every quarter of the Pacific Ocean?" as early as the 18th century, he was wondering specifically about the Polynesian people. How did they get to so many islands spread so far apart? Perhaps the answer lies in the Hawaiian canoe.

Canoes served several purposes for early Hawaiians. Can you guess what some of them might be? Smaller canoes were used for traveling around the islands, while larger canoes were used for long-distance traveling or warfare. Fishing was also done from canoes. And, just like today, canoes were used for sports and recreation.

Hawaiian canoes were made of acacia koa, a tree that is now very scarce. Canoes were historically built by master craftsmen who oversaw all aspects of the process, from selecting the trees to getting the boat into the water. Lashing, or binding, of the pieces of wood was done with coconut or vegetable fiber.
 
Ching Ming Tradition in Hawaii

How do you honor your ancestors? If you were Chinese, you might celebrate Ching Ming.

Dating back 3,000 years, the practice of Ching Ming is still observed worldwide by Chinese families. Ching means "pure" or "clean"; ming means "brightness." The words together are applied to a Chinese tradition that helps explain why respect for elders is such an important part of the Chinese culture. Many Chinese believe that a person's good fortune or misfortune comes from his or her ancestors; that all departed ancestors still have the same physical needs they had when alive; and that the departed can assist their relatives on Earth.

Today, Ching Ming is celebrated every April 4 in Hawaii and involves the cleaning, repairing and replanting of ancestral gravesites. In Hawaii, the practice has a stronger presence than in other parts of the United States. Ceremonies involve preparing foods as a symbol of earthly possessions and laying them out on the grave. These foods may include fruit, rice, chicken, pork, cakes and tea. A meal may be eaten at the gravesite as a gesture of sharing with deceased relatives. Other customs include burning incense, offering prayers and burning symbolic paper. It is not necessarily a time of sadness, but one of reflection, remembrance and communion with past generations.
 
Portuguese Holy Ghost Festival and Traditional Practices

Portuguese immigrants first came to Hawaii in the late 1800s to work in the sugar cane fields. They brought their culture with them, and since 1901, the Feast of the Holy Ghost has been celebrated in Hawaii. This feast originated centuries ago with the sixth Queen of Portugal, Isabel. It is a Catholic celebration that proclaims the faith of the Portuguese and their devotion to the Holy Ghost, the member of the Holy Trinity now referred to as the Holy Spirit.

For each of the seven Saturdays leading up to the feast, known as Domingas, a different historical or religious figure is honored. The highlight of the entire event is a three-day festival that begins on the Friday night just before the Seventh Dominga, the "Blessing of the Meat and Bread," in which a portion of beef and bread -- the "Pensao" -- is blessed by a priest and distributed to each member present. Following the tradition of charity and feeding the poor, a bowl of soup or stew is served to everyone. On Saturday night, participants decorate religious statues in preparation for the Sunday Mass. A woman is chosen to represent Queen Isabel, and she and her court join a procession. At the end of the Mass, the priest crowns the Holy Ghost Queen.
 
Prince Lot Hula Festival

Did you know that you can tell stories with a dance? That's what the kids in the photo are doing when they do the hula, a traditional dance of Hawaii. The hula combines flowing movement with facial expressions, all set to special chants and music. When hula began it was a form of worship.

Prince Lot Kapu`aiwa kept the hula alive in Hawaii at a time when interest in it was fading. Can you guess how he did it? The prince, who later became Kamehameha V, King of Hawaii from 1863 to 1872, was noted for his energy and strength of will. One of his interests was to promote and preserve Hawaiian culture, especially the hula. He did this by holding hula performances at his cottage in Moanalua. To many, the hula represents Hawaiians' view of the world.

In appreciation of Prince Lot's efforts to preserve Hawaiian culture, the Prince Lot Hula Festival was established in 1978. Each year na halau (hula schools) come to the festival to perform at Moanalua Gardens in Honolulu. This festival also includes other Hawaiian activities and exhibits such as hand-stitched quilts, leaf-weaving demonstrations to make hats and baskets, instrument-making and lei-making (a lei is a necklace of flowers).
 
Even Royalty Surfs in Hawaii

Did you know that in Hawaii's early days, when it was ruled by royalty, even kings and queens surfed?

Surfing is considered part of modern American pop culture, but the sport actually developed centuries ago in Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean. It was later brought to Hawaii in the eighth century. Petroglyphs (rock paintings) have been found in Hawaii that show early Hawaiians riding the waves. British explorer Captain James Cook made the first mention of surfing in print in his account of his journey through the Pacific Ocean. Even the early kings and queens of Hawaii participated in the sport. American writers Mark Twain and Jack London are known to have tried surfing. Duke Kahanamoku, who was born in Hawaii, was a gold medalist in swimming at the 1912 Olympic Games. He is commonly credited with the rise in popularity of surfing in the 20th century.
Source: Library of Congress
National Parks and Monuments of Hawaii

The following is a description of national parks and monuments in the state of Hawaii. There are no national forests in this state. If you plan to visit or live in Hawaii for awhile then you should definitely plan to visit some of these fantastic places.
 
National Parks
Haleakalā

The Haleakalā volcano on Maui features a very large crater with numerous cinder cones, Hosmer's Grove of alien trees, the Kipahulu section's scenic pools of freshwater fish, and the native Hawaiian goose. The park protects the greatest number of endangered species within a U.S. National Park.
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes

This park on the Big Island protects the Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, two of the world's most active geological features. Diverse ecosystems range from tropical forests at sea level to barren lava beds at more than 13,000 feet (4,000 m).
 
National Monuments
Honouliuli

Comprises the grounds of the Honouliuli Internment Camp on the island of Oahu. It was the largest and longest-operating facility used for Japanese American internment in the United States.
Papahānaumokuākea Marine

The marine monument consists of ocean waters and 10 islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands including Midway Atoll (which is the site of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge). The monument was created in 2006 with 139,797 square miles (362,070 km2), and its boundaries were expanded on August 26, 2016, more than quadrupling in size to a total area of 582,578 square miles (1,508,870 km2). It is the largest protected area on Earth, and is almost the size of the Gulf of Mexico. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands archipelago "is the planet's largest seabird gathering site, with more than 14 million birds from 22 species, and is home to nearly all Laysan albatrosses and the remaining endangered Hawaiian monk seals." It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2010.
World War II Valor in the Pacific

Valor in the Pacific encompasses nine sites in three states associated with World War II: The Attack on Pearl Harbor, including the USS Arizona, Utah, and Oklahoma memorials in Hawaii; the Aleutian Islands Campaign on Attu Island, Kiska Island, and Atka Island in Alaska; and the Japanese American internment at Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California. This national monument is also partially located in the state of Alaska and California.
 
Travel America
Cool America
About the U.S.A.

About the U.S.A. is an American Studies reader that examines the customs, government, and history of the United States of America. The text provides a wealth of information on U.S. geography and history; the roles of local, state, and federal government; national holidays and symbols; the Constitution; and citizenship. The book, which was written for intermediate to advanced learners of English, contains a range of activities for language students to practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing. (opens to a new PDF window) Great English reading practice.
About America

Learn about the fascinating history and government of the United States of America. Lessons include content on American Government, American History, and Integrated Civics. Handouts with interactive games and student-centered activities encompass all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Great English reading practice for beginning to intermediate students.
American Teens Talk!

Americans Teens Talk! is a collection of interviews of American high school students. Each interview is accompanied by vocabulary notes and discussion questions. The interviews in American Teens Talk! give learners a view into the lives of adolescents in the U.S. Through the written format of the interviews, learners are able to increase their vocabulary, practice their reading and listening skills, engage in discussions, and learn more about U.S. culture. These interviews come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading
Sing Out Loud Children's Songs

Sing Out Loud Children's Songs includes popular children's songs in the U.S.A. Posters accompany the individual Sing Out Loud Children's Songs. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Sing Out Loud Traditional Songs

The Sing Out Loud Traditional Songs collection contains 13 traditional American folk songs and song lyrics. Listen to the songs online, read the lyrics, and collect the posters that accompany the songs. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Sing Out Loud American Rhythms

Do you love music? Want to use it to learn English? Check out the hip-hop inspired song "Peace" from Sing Out Loud American Rhythms. American Rhythms includes a variety of musical genres from many different artists in the U.S.A. These songs will appeal to teens and young adults. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Route 66 - Famous American Road

U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, California, near Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.
Route 66: The Highway That's the Best
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Chicago: The Start of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Going West for Decades on Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Arizona: The Spirit of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Route 66 California: The End of the Trail
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Ten Must-See Route 66 Attractions
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Four Famous Foods On Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
International Tourists Drawn to Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
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