What to Read Next

22 things you might not know about Hawaii

Amanda Green
23 August 2013
22 things you might not know about Hawaii

MORE FROM mental floss

Hau`oli la Hanau, Hawaii! Yes, you read that right. It was only 54 years ago today that Hawaii became a U.S. state. Let's celebrate with 22 facts about the Aloha State.   

1. If you guessed that "hau`oli la hanau" means "happy birthday," you're right. But you might need that sounded out: how-oh-lay la ha-now. The Hawaiian language comes with a bit of a learning curve. For starters, there's only a 13-letter alphabet and every word—and syllable—ends with one of five vowels. 

2. That apostrophe-like mark you see in some words is called an ʻokina. It's a consonant that signifies a slight pause. If two words are spelled exactly alike, but one has an ʻokina, you're looking at two different words. For example, "moa" means "chicken," while "mo'a" means "cooked." 

3. The kahakō symbol is a line placed over a vowel. It directs speakers to stretch out a vowel sound. Speaking of which....

A is pronounced “ah”
E is pronounced “eh”
I is pronounced “ee”
O is pronounced “oh”
U is pronounced “oo”

You might be wondering, "Is there a great song to summarize everything I just read? A fun song for children that will get stuck in my head all day long?" Yes, here it is:

4. The state of Hawaii consists of 8 main islands, the biggest of which is called, you guessed it, the Big Island. The Big Island's official name is Hawai'i.

5. The Big Island's getting bigger—by more than 42 acres each year—thanks to Kīlauea Volcano. It's been erupting for 30 years!

6. Mauna Loa, the world's biggest volcano, is also on the Big Island. Astronauts once trained for moon voyages by walking on its hardened lava fields. Most recently, six NASA-funded researchers spent months on the northern slope simulating a Mars space station.

7. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee, cacao, and vanilla beans. (Also: It can take up to five years to grow a single vanilla bean.)

8. The Aloha State's also good at growing ... people. It's got the highest life expectancy in the United States, despite the fact that...

9. The people of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the U.S.

10. The average life expectancy of 81.3 years might have something to do with the fact that the state's healthcare system insures more than 90 percent of its residents and focuses on preventive care. Since 1975, businesses have been legally required to insure employees who work over 20 hours per week.

11. No matter how old you are, only people with Hawaiian ancestry are called “Hawaiians.” People of non-Hawaiian ancestry—even those born and raised there—call themselves “locals."

12. One Hawaiian: Theridion grallator, also known as the happy face spider.

13. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asian Americans (38.6 percent) and multiracial Americans (23.6 percent) in the United States. It also has the lowest percentage of White Americans (24.7 percent).

14. Regardless of ancestry, most families traditionally celebrate a child's first birthday with a luau.

15. No celebration's complete without a lei. The flower garlands come with strict rules. For starters, it's impolite to refuse a lei, remove it in front of the person who gave it to you, or wear one that you intend to give to someone else. A lei should never be thrown away. Instead, it should traditionally be returned to the earth, ideally to where its flowers were gathered. And it's bad luck to give a tied lei to a pregnant woman, as it suggests an umbilical cord around a baby's neck.

16. There are no seagulls in Hawaii. The closest thing is the white tern, a seabird that lays eggs directly on tree branches without building a nest to protect them. 

17. Hawaii has its own time zone 10 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. It's also one of two U.S. states that doesn't practice Daylight Saving Time. (Arizona's the other one.)

18. Barbecue aficionados in Hawaii prefer meat smoked with guava wood, instead of hickory or mesquite.

19. The state gem isn't a gem at all. Black coral is technically an animal, but it's often used to make jewelry.

20. The Aloha State is one of four that have outlawed billboards. (The others are Alaska, Maine, and Vermont.)

21. Snakes are also outlawed. The only legal serpents are housed in zoos.

22. When you picture a beautiful Hawaiian getaway, you might imagine a black or white beach. They also come in yellow, red, and green

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Seniors: Here's your second chance to get Medicare

Don't wait. Sign up for Medicare & Medigap now during the General Enrollment Period.

Reconnect With Your High School Friends

Classmates® has the largest directory of high school class lists. Remember the good times and reconnect to create new memories.

$200 Tactical Flashlight Surplus Dumped

Highly anticipated LumiTact G700 Tactical Flashlight Overrun - Now available to civilian population

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Ever Googled Someone? Do A "Deep Search" Instead

Entering a Name and State on this site could reveal info you thought wasn't available. Have you searched yourself or someone you know yet?

9 Cards for People Who Have Great Credit

What card offers up to 5% cash back? And which one offers 24/7 concierge service? See the best credit cards of 2016. Apply online, quickly & easily.

Hilton HHonors™ Card

Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points. Apply for Your Card Today.

Get your taxes done this weekend -- for free.

Grab your W-2 and file taxes this weekend for Absolute Zero® : $0 Fed, $0 State, $0 to File. TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

How Can Refinancing Your Student Loans Save Money?

SoFi can help you reduce your student loans and help you pay off your debt hassle free!

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.

Stop Paying Too Much For Your Prescriptions.

Drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies. GoodRx finds the lowest prices and discounts. Compare prices, print free coupons & save up to 80%.