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The archipelago of Hawaii comprises four major islands (Kauai, Oahu, Hawaii, Maui) and a number of smaller or less populated islands (Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, Kahoolawe), and is among the most isolated land masses on earth, an isolation which has resulted in the evolution of thousands of endemic species of flora and fauna.

Mankind first settled in Hawaii between 1,700 and 1,500 years ago, when skilled Polynesian navigators landed, bringing with them plants, animals, lifestyle, tools, and culture. During the period before contact with Western or Asian civilizations, Native Hawaiian kings ruled the islands with a strict legal code that encouraged communal production and sacrifice. They organized settlements around the ahupua’a, a land demarcation stretching from watersheds in the mountains following the course of streams down to the oceans.

King Kamehameha the Great unified all the major Hawaiian Islands during the late18th and early 19th centuries, a period during which Hawaiians increasingly encountered Western sailing vessels (most notably that of Captain James Cooke, the famous explorer and first Caucasian to land in Hawaii). Over time, the interest of the U.S. government in Hawaii grew and the islands were eventually subjugated as part of a coup driven by white merchants resulting in the overthrow of a Native Hawaiian Monarchy.

Hawaii today is a mix of overcrowded urban centers centers along with massive wilderness areas, and plenty of small towns where native Hawaiian culture continues to endure.

Hawaii Articles

26+ images that prove Hawaii is the most underrated place for outdoor adventure

by Matador Staff

11+ epic hiking trails in Hawaii

by Matador Staff

21+ of the best beaches in Hawaii

by Matador Staff

24 hours on Oahu

by Mike Cianciulli

Polihale State Park: Camping as far west as you can go in Hawaii

by Heather von Bargen

Top 10 surf spots (for mortals) in Hawaii

by Spencer Klein

9 places to visit before they change forever

by Morgane Croissant

10 things you should know before traveling to Hawaii

by LiAnne Yu

10 cell phone dead zones worth a trip

by Hal Amen

13 weekend getaways from 13 major U.S. cities

by Sarah Park

How to ski Hawaii

by Morgan deBoer

16 floating and swim-up bars [PICS]

by Kristin Conard

5 small-town adventure escapes in the US

by Chris Weiss

Honolulu’s Chinatown bars

by Karen Dion

A guide to foraging for wild food in Hawaii

by Pele Omori

A US festival for every month of the year

by Sabina Lohr

Top 5 affordable wellness retreats in the world

by Linda Handiak

How well do you know Hawaii? [QUIZ]

by Matador Team
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