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With its picturesque beaches, volcanic landscapes, and unique culture, Hawaii is one destination that tops many travelers’ bucket lists. But just how big is the Aloha State? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The total land area of the Hawaiian Islands is 10,931 square miles.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the size of Hawaii from various angles – its total land area, the sizes of the individual islands, how it compares to other states, and more. We’ll look at important geographical factors like Hawaii’s isolated location in the Pacific which influenced its growth. We’ll also touch on some history and delve into the unique native Hawaiian concept of ahupuaa land divisions.

Total Land Area of the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii, also known as the Aloha State, is an archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean. It consists of several islands, each with its own unique charm and beauty. When we talk about the total land area of the Hawaiian Islands, it’s important to consider both the main eight islands and the Northwestern Islands.

Main 8 Islands

The main eight islands of Hawaii are Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, Kahoolawe, and the Big Island of Hawaii. These islands are the most populated and visited by tourists from all over the world. The combined land area of these islands is approximately 6,422 square miles.

The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest of the main eight islands, spanning over 4,000 square miles. It is home to stunning landscapes, including active volcanoes, lush rainforests, and beautiful beaches. The Big Island alone accounts for more than half of the total land area of the Hawaiian Islands.

Oahu, the third-largest island, is known for its vibrant city life in Honolulu and iconic landmarks like Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor. It has a land area of approximately 596 square miles, making it the most densely populated island in Hawaii.

Maui, the second-largest island, is famous for its breathtaking beaches, scenic drives along the Road to Hana, and the majestic Haleakala National Park. With a land area of about 727 square miles, it offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.

Northwestern Islands

In addition to the main eight islands, Hawaii also includes the Northwestern Islands, a chain of small islands and atolls located northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands. These islands are uninhabited and serve as a protected area for wildlife and marine species.

The Northwestern Islands comprise of ten islands and atolls, with Midway Atoll being the most well-known. The total land area of these islands is approximately 1.5 square miles. While they may be small in size, they play a significant role in preserving the unique biodiversity of Hawaii.

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, it’s important to understand the vastness of the Hawaiian Islands. Each island has its own distinct characteristics, offering a wide range of experiences and adventures for visitors to enjoy.

Size Comparisons to Other States

By Total Area

When it comes to total area, Hawaii may not be the largest state in the United States, but it certainly holds its own. With a total area of approximately 10,931 square miles, it ranks as the 43rd largest state. To put this into perspective, Hawaii is smaller than the state of Connecticut, which has a total area of around 5,543 square miles. However, it is larger than Rhode Island, which is the smallest state in the country with a total area of only 1,214 square miles.

By Land Area

While Hawaii’s total area includes both land and water, let’s focus on the land area for a moment. Hawaii’s land area is approximately 6,423 square miles, making it the 47th largest state in terms of land area. This means that while Hawaii may be relatively small compared to other states, it still offers plenty of land to explore and enjoy.

In fact, if we were to compare Hawaii’s land area to other well-known states, we can see that it holds its own. For instance, Hawaii is larger than Delaware, which has a land area of approximately 1,949 square miles. It is also larger than Rhode Island, which has a land area of about 1,034 square miles. So, while Hawaii may be small in terms of land area, it still packs a punch!

For more information on Hawaii’s size and other interesting facts about the state, you can visit the official website of the State of Hawaii.

History and Geographical Influences on Hawaii’s Growth

Hawaii, a beautiful archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean, has a rich history that has shaped its growth and development over the years. The islands were first settled by Polynesians who arrived from other Pacific islands around 1,500 years ago. These early settlers brought with them a unique culture and way of life that still influences the islands today.

Volcanic Origins

One of the most significant geographical influences on Hawaii’s growth is its volcanic origins. The islands were formed through volcanic activity millions of years ago, and this ongoing volcanic activity has shaped the landscape and created some of the most stunning natural features in the world. The Big Island of Hawaii, for example, is home to the active Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting continuously since 1983. The lava flows from these eruptions have added new land to the island, expanding its size over time.

Isolation and Unique Biodiversity

Another important factor that has influenced Hawaii’s growth is its isolation. The islands are located more than 2,000 miles from the nearest continent, which has allowed for the development of unique and diverse ecosystems. Hawaii is known for its incredible biodiversity, with many species of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. The isolation of the islands also played a role in the development of the Hawaiian culture, which evolved independently from other cultures in the Pacific.

Impact of Tourism

In recent years, tourism has played a significant role in the growth and development of Hawaii. The natural beauty of the islands, along with their unique culture and history, has made them a popular destination for travelers from around the world. Tourism provides a boost to the local economy, creating jobs and generating revenue for the state. However, it also presents challenges, including the strain on natural resources and the preservation of the islands’ fragile ecosystems.

For more information on the history and geography of Hawaii, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii Tourism Authority:

Unique Land Divisions – The Ahupuaa System

When exploring the fascinating geography of Hawaii, one cannot ignore the unique land divisions known as the Ahupuaa system. This traditional system, which dates back to ancient times, played a crucial role in the management and distribution of resources throughout the islands. The Ahupuaa system is a hierarchical land division, stretching from the mountains to the sea, that ensured the sustainability and self-sufficiency of each community.

The Ahupuaa System: An Overview

The Ahupuaa system divided the land into pie-shaped sections, with each section extending from the mountains to the coast. These sections allowed communities to access a wide range of resources, from fertile agricultural lands to abundant fishing grounds. The boundaries of each Ahupuaa were carefully determined to ensure a fair distribution of resources among the inhabitants.

The Ahupuaa system was not only a land division but also a system of governance. Each Ahupuaa had its own leader, or Konohiki, who was responsible for managing the resources within their territory. The Konohiki would oversee farming, fishing, and other activities, ensuring that resources were used sustainably and equitably.

Benefits of the Ahupuaa System

The Ahupuaa system had numerous benefits for the Hawaiian people. Firstly, it promoted self-sufficiency within each community. With a diverse range of resources available within each Ahupuaa, the inhabitants had access to everything they needed for their daily lives. This reduced the need for long-distance trade and fostered a strong sense of community.

Secondly, the Ahupuaa system encouraged sustainability. The careful management of resources by the Konohiki ensured that the land, forests, and oceans were not overexploited. This sustainable approach allowed the ecosystems to thrive and ensured the long-term availability of resources for future generations.

The Ahupuaa System Today

While the Ahupuaa system is no longer the primary method of land division in Hawaii, its influence can still be seen throughout the islands. Many place names, such as “Waikiki” and “Waimea,” derive from the Ahupuaa system and serve as a reminder of its historical importance.

Efforts are also being made to revive and incorporate elements of the Ahupuaa system into modern land management practices. By adopting a more holistic approach that considers the interconnectedness of land, water, and people, Hawaii aims to achieve a more sustainable and resilient future.

For more information on the Ahupuaa system and its significance in Hawaiian history, you can visit


In conclusion, while Hawaii may seem small on a map compared to continental states, the island chain’s total land area of nearly 11,000 square miles has supported a rich culture and biodiversity. Understanding the isolated geography that led to Hawaii’s modest size provides insight into its history. While visitors may only glimpse a fraction of the islands, the concept of the ahupuaa embodies a traditional native Hawaiian view of the land as a complete eco-social system.

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