Hawaii

Water lilies (<i>Nymphaea</i>), Hawaii, United States of America. rel=
Water lilies (Nymphaea), Hawaii, United States of America.
© WWF-Canon / Paul TRUMMER

The Endangered Species Capital Of The World

What & Where?
Hawaii, the 50th state of the United States, is an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is approximately 2,550 miles southwest of Los Angeles and about 3,900 miles southeast of Tokyo. This string of islands is one of the most remote and is the world’s longest island chain. It is comprised of 8 major islands: Oahu, Hawaii (also called Big Island), Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe (uninhabited), and Niihau (privately owned), and a series of smaller ones. All Hawaiian islands formed by volcanoes arising from the sea floor.

Why?
More than 90% of the plants and animals inhabiting Hawaii are endemic to the state, and a greater variety of fish exist in Hawaiian waters than anywhere else. Hawaii, known as the endangered species capital of the world, is home to at least 1/3 of all the endangered species of the United States. Hawaii is also a great place to encounter wild dolphins.

The youngest volcano of the chain, Kilauea, in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, still erupts occasionally, spewing lava and creating new land. Volcanoes National Park was inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1987 for its surprising geological formations and endemic species of plant and animal life. The newest island of the chain, Loihi, is forming about 30 miles southwest of Kilauea.

Diamond Head, one of the most famous volcano craters in the world is located in southwest Oahu. It is 3,520 ft in diameter with a 760 ft summit. It got its name from the calcite crystals which glimmered in the sunlight and were mistaken for diamonds by sailors.

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