Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States on August 21, 1959. It is situated in the North Pacific Ocean, 2,300 miles (3,700 km) from the mainland.
During roughly 1778–1898, Hawaii was also known as the Sandwich Islands.

The Hawaiian Archipelago comprises eighteen islands and atolls extending across a distance of 1,500 miles (2,400 km). Of these, eight high islands are considered the "main islands" and are located at the southeastern end of the archipelago. These islands are, in order from the northwest to southeast, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii. The latter is by far the largest, and is very often called the "Big Island" or "Big Isle". All of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanoes arising from the sea floor.

The climate of Hawaii is atypical for a tropical area, and is regarded as more subtropical than the latitude would suggest, because of the moderating effect of the surrounding ocean. Temperatures and humidity tend to be less extreme, with summer high temperatures seldom reaching above the upper 80s (°F) and winter temperatures (at low elevation) seldom dipping below the mid-60s. Snow, although not usually associated with tropics, falls at high elevations on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island in some winter months.

Hurricanes are a rare occurrence in Hawaii, although it is probable that all the islands of Hawaii have been hit by a hurricane in the past.



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