Honolulu (/ˌhɒnəˈluːluː/; Hawaiian: [honoˈlulu]) is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Hawaii. It is an unincorporated part of and the county seat of the City and County of Honolulu along the southeast coast of the island of Oʻahu.[a] The city is the main gateway to Hawaiʻi and a major portal into the United States. The city is also a major hub for international business and military defense, as well as being host to a diverse variety of east-west and Pacific cultures, cuisine, and traditions.
Hawaiian legend indicates a settlement at Honolulu (meaning “protected bay”) in 1100. Overlooked by Captain James Cook and other early explorers, the harbour with its outlet through the reef of Nuuanu Stream and sheltered by Sand Island was entered by Captain William Brown in 1794. After 1820 Honolulu assumed first importance in the islands and flourished as a base for sandalwood traders and whalers. A Russian group arrived there in 1816, and the port was later occupied by the British (1843) and the French (1849) but was returned to King Kamehameha III, who on August 31, 1850, officially declared Honolulu a city and the capital of his kingdom (Honolulu had been the de facto capital since 1845). In December 1941 the city and the adjacent Pearl Harbor naval-military complex came under Japanese aerial attack. Honolulu became a prime staging area for the remainder of World War II, a position it retained during the Korean War and until the end of the Indochina (Vietnam) conflict in 1973. Military expenditure remains an important source of income.
Tourism is the most important industry in Hawaii, especially in Honolulu, which is the leading economic center of the state. Tourism brings between $8 billion and $9 billion to the state each year, or about 55 percent of all income. The military contributes about 19 percent while services and merchandise contribute about 26 percent. During 1998–99, while the mainland United States was thriving economically, Honolulu and the rest of Hawaii were in an economic downturn. Hawaii is highly dependent on Japanese tourism, but the Asian economic crisis cut into the number of visitors.
Honolulu is located at the crossroads of transpacific cargo carriers, and its port has extensive shipping facilities. The port also serves local industries, including pineapple canneries, sugar refineries, and clothing factories.
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