Hawaii history begins turbulently and in flames, as these volcanic land masses spewed out of the ocean as lava, gradually cooling to form fertile mid-ocean peaks. The first human inhabitants in Hawaii history arrived only around 500 AD, a Polynesian people who introduced several new species of plants and animals to the once isolated archipelago. They were joined in the 12th century by a warlike people from Tahiti, who would become the group to dominate Hawaii history until the arrival of the Europeans.
The course of Hawaii history changed dramatically when Captain James Cook first spied Oahu in 1778. Welcoming Cook and his crew were gracious Hawaiian hosts. Peaceful relations turned hostile when, in one of the most noted events of Hawaii history, Cook returned to the islands and was killed after a series of scuffles between the Hawaiian leaders and Cook's men. It was in the years following Cook's death, with other nations leery of landing on Hawaii, that a revered figure in Hawaii history rose to power and consolidated the islands under one rule. King Kamehameha the Great (who would be succeeded by four more Kamehamehas) changed Hawaii history by imposing strict royal laws and expanding Hawaii's influence on the world stage. Though many of his social regulations broke down after his death in 1819, his reign was directly responsible for establishing the first pseudo-government in Hawaii history, a constitutional monarchy. Ties with the US strengthened during this period in Hawaii history, as Protestant missionaries began making the trip across the Pacific and sugar cane became a vital economic tie between the two lands. Sugar plantations also had a direct effect upon the ethnic makeup of Hawaii, when the first massive migration of Asian workers in Hawaii history made the move seeking better economic opportunities.
A new branch of Hawaiian royalty, one that would greatly impact Hawaii history, led the islands in the last of the nineteenth century. This included Queen Liliuokalani, possibly the most beloved figure in Hawaii history, who was to be the last reigning monarch before Hawaii was absorbed by the United States. In a scenario that echoed throughout Hawaii history since the 1700s, tensions had been growing between the largely American contingent of business owners and the more traditional ruling families. When Queen Liliuokalani took over, Hawaiian nationalism was at its peak and she threatened to do away with the constitution that restricted powers to the monarchy. A series of coups ultimately led to a decision by William McKinley to annex the islands, and Hawaii history, this time as an official territory of the United States, began anew in 1900.
After World War II, with Hawaiians having participated heavily in the war effort, many residents campaigned to have the islands incorporated as America's 50th state. This new stage in Hawaii history was achieved in 1959, just as the area's tourism industry began to boom with regular air service. Though the traditional economic staples in Hawaii history, sugar and pineapples, remained important, tourism quickly became dominant and recent Hawaii history shows that this will be the case for a long time to come.
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