It is the westernmost and southernmost major US city.
The closest location on the mainland United States to Honolulu is the Point Arena Lighthouse in California, at 3,787 km (2,353 miles).
As of January 2021, the population of Honolulu is about 345,000 people. It is the 55th most populous city in the United States.
The city covers a total area of 177 square kilometers (68 square miles).
The average altitude is 6 metres (19 feet) above sea level.
Evidence of the first settlement of Honolulu by the original Polynesian migrants to the archipelago comes from oral histories and artifacts. These indicate that there was a settlement where Honolulu now stands in the 11th century.
In 1794, Captain William Brown of Great Britain was the first foreigner to sail into what is now Honolulu Harbor. More foreign ships would follow, making the port of Honolulu a focal point for merchant ships traveling between North America and Asia.
After Kamehameha I conquered Oʻahu in the Battle of Nuʻuanu at Nuʻuanu Pali, he moved his royal court from the Island of Hawaiʻi to Waikīkī in 1804. His court relocated in 1809 to what is now downtown Honolulu. The capital was moved back to Kailua-Kona in 1812.
In 1845, Kamehameha III moved the permanent capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom from Lahaina on Maui to Honolulu. He and the kings that followed him transformed Honolulu into a modern capital.
Despite the turbulent history of the late 19th century and early 20th century, such as the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, Hawaiʻi’s subsequent annexation by the United States in 1898, followed by a large fire in 1900, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Honolulu remained the capital, largest city, and main airport and seaport of the Hawaiian Islands.
An economic and tourism boom following statehood brought rapid economic growth to Honolulu and Hawaiʻi. Modern air travel would bring thousands, eventually millions, of visitors per year to the Islands.
The ʻIolani Palace was the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii beginning with Kamehameha III under the Kamehameha Dynasty (1845) and ending with Queen Liliʻuokalani (1893) under the Kalākaua Dynasty, founded by her brother, King David Kalākaua. It is located in the capitol district of downtown Honolulu in the US state of Hawaiʻi. It is now a National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, the building was used as the capitol building for the Provisional Government, Republic, Territory, and State of Hawaiʻi until 1969. The palace was restored and opened to the public as a museum in 1978. The ʻIolani Palace is the only royal palace on US soil.
Pearl Harbor is an American lagoon harbor on the west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is now a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. government first obtained exclusive use of the inlet and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships here in 1887. Its surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on December 7, 1941, promptly led The United States to declare war on the Empire of Japan making the Attack on Pearl Harbor the immediate cause of the United States’ entry into World War II.
The USS Arizona Memorial, at Pearl Harbor, marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and commemorates the events of that day. The attack on Pearl Harbor led to the United States’ involvement in World War II. The memorial, built in 1962, is visited by more than two million people annually.
The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, designated the Hawaiʻi State Museum of Natural and Cultural History, is a museum of history and science in the historic Kalihi district of Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. Founded in 1889, it is the largest museum in Hawai’i and has the world’s largest collection of Polynesian cultural artifacts and natural history specimens.
Diamond Head is a state monument with a panoramic view of Honolulu with a panoramic view of Honolulu. It is a volcanic tuff cone known to Hawaiians as Lēʻahi. The Hawaiian name is most likely derived from lae (browridge, promontory) plus ʻahi (tuna) because the shape of the ridgeline resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin. Its English name was given by British sailors in the 19th century, who mistook calcite crystals on the adjacent beach for diamonds.
Hanauma is a marine embayment formed within a tuff ring and located along the southeast coast of the Island of Oʻahu in the Hawaii Kai neighborhood of East Honolulu. Hanauma is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Island and has suffered somewhat from overuse. At one time, this popular tourist destination accommodated over three million visitors per year. In 1956, dynamite was used to clear portions of the reef to make room for telephone cables linking Hawaii to the west coast of the US.
Honolulu 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.
Honolulu means “sheltered harbor” or “calm port” in Hawaiian.