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Oʻahu (usually Oahu outside Hawaiian and Hawaiian English), the "Gathering Place", is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands and most populous island in the State of Hawaiʻi. Total land area is 608 mile² (1,600 km²). In greatest dimension, this volcanic island is 71 km (44 mi) long and 48 km (30 mi) across. The length of the shoreline is 366 km (227 mi). The island is the result of two separate shield volcanoes: Waiʻanae and Koʻolau, with a broad "valley" or saddle (the central Oʻahu Plain) between them. The highest point is Mt. Kaʻala in the Waiʻanae Range, rising to 1,225 m (4019 ft) above sea level (Macdonald, Abbott, & Peterson, 1983).
The island is home to ~900,000 people (approximately 75% of the resident population of the state) and partly because of this, Oʻahu has for a long time been nicknamed "The Gathering Place". However, the term Oʻahu has no confirmed meaning in Hawaiian, other than that of the place itself (Pukui, et al., 1976). Ancient Hawaiian tradition attributes the name's origin in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa, the Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates that he named the island after a son. Image:Hanauma Bay.jpgImage:Oahu windward side beach.jpg The city of Honolulu—largest city, state capital, and main deepwater marine port for the State of Hawaiʻi—is located here. As a jurisdictional unit, the entire island of Oʻahu is in the City & County of Honolulu, although as a place name, Honolulu occupies only a portion of the southeast end of the island (essentially, the Honolulu District). The island extends from Kaʻena on the west end to Makapuʻu on the east. Well-known features found on Oʻahu include Waikīkī, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Kāneʻohe Bay, and the North Shore.
Oʻahu was apparently the first of the Hawaiian Islands sighted by the crew of HMS Resolution on 18 January 1778 during Capt. James Cook's third Pacific expedition. Escorted by HMS Discovery, the expedition was surprised to find high islands this far north in the central Pacific. Oʻahu was not actually visited by Europeans until 28 February 1779 when Captain Clerke aboard HMS Resolution stepped ashore at Waimea Bay. Clerke had taken command of the ship after Capt. Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay (Island of Hawaiʻi) on February 14, and was leaving the islands for the North Pacific.
Today, Oʻahu has become a tourism and shopping haven as over 5 million visitors (mainly from the American mainland and Japan) flock there every year to enjoy the quintessential island holiday experience that the Hawaiian Islands and her multicultural people now personify.
Oʻahu has been featured in hundreds of movies and TV shows, including Magnum P.I., Hawaii Five-O, and Jake and the Fatman to name but a few. Lost is filmed on Oʻahu, and more recently, a television series called North Shore was filmed there.
- Macdonald, Gordon A., Agatin T. Abbott, and Frank L. Peterson. 1983. Volcanoes in the Sea. University of Hawaiʻi Press, Honolulu. 517 pp.
- Pukui, M.K., S.H. Elbert, and E.T. Mookini. 1976. Place names of Hawaiʻi. University of Hawaiʻi Press. 289 pp.
|Image:Flag of Hawaii.svg||State of Hawaiʻi|
|Largest communities:||Hilo | Honolulu | Kahului | Waipahu | Līhuʻe|
|Islands:||Hawaiʻi | Kahoʻolawe | Kauaʻi | Lānaʻi | Maui | Molokaʻi | Niʻihau | Northwestern Hawaiian Islands | Oʻahu|
|Counties:||Hawaiʻi | Honolulu | Kalawao | Kauaʻi | Maui|
|Languages:||Hawaiian | English | Pidgin|