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The Hawaiian islands are home to a diverse population from many backgrounds. If you’re wondering, “What is the population of Hawaii?” you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive article, we will provide a detailed look at Hawaii’s total population, population density across its islands, demographic breakdowns, historical population trends and forecasts, and what’s driving changes.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: As of 2023, Hawaii has an estimated total population of 1,455,271 people.

Hawaii Total Population and Population Density

Total Population Numbers Over Time

The population of Hawaii has grown steadily over the past century. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population in 1900 was around 154,000 people. By 1950, that number had grown to 499,000. In 2000, Hawaii’s population surpassed 1.2 million and by 2020, it was approximately 1.45 million.

There are several factors contributing to the increase in Hawaii’s population. The tropical climate, natural beauty, and booming tourism industry have made it an attractive place to live and visit. Its main island Oahu, which contains the capital Honolulu, is often considered a “melting pot” due to its diversity and multicultural population.

Population Density Comparisons

Though the total population has increased, Hawaii is not among the most densely populated U.S. states due to its small total land area and spread out island geography. As of 2020, Hawaii had a population density of 218 people per square mile compared to the national U.S. average of 92 people per square mile.

State Population per Square Mile
New Jersey 1,218
Hawaii 218
California 253
U.S. Average 92

However, population density varies greatly between Hawaii’s islands. For example, Oahu has a much higher density at 1,636 people per square mile compared to Hawaii Island at just 46 people per square mile.

Going forward, Hawaii’s population is projected to continue growing steadily. Some estimate it may increase to 1.67 million by 2030 as more people are attracted to Hawaii’s high quality of life and robust job market centered around tourism.

Demographic Breakdown of Hawaii Population

Age and Gender

Hawaii has an interesting age and gender breakdown. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 2022, 50.5% of Hawaii’s population is female while 49.5% is male. The median age is 39.6 years old. Breaking it down further:

  • 20.8% of the population is under 18 years old
  • 59.8% is between 18-64 years old
  • 19.4% is 65 years and older

Compared to the whole United States, Hawaii has a lower percentage of residents under 18 and a higher percentage over 65 years old. This shows Hawaii’s population skews slightly older than the national average.

Ethnicity and Ancestry

Hawaii is celebrated as the Rainbow State for its incredible diversity. Its unique ethnic makeup includes:

  • 38.6% Asian – mostly Filipino and Japanese
  • 26.1% White
  • 10% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander
  • 8.9% Hispanic/Latino
  • 2.5% Black/African American
  • 1.2% Other

In fact, according to the Census Bureau, Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asian Americans and multiracial Americans of any state. It also has the lowest percentage of White Americans of any state. People reporting two or more races make up almost a quarter of Hawaii’s population.

This unique mix creates a beautiful blend of cultures and customs found nowhere else in the world. The population of Honolulu is especially diverse – almost 50% Asian, 20% White, and 9% Native Hawaiian. Residents say the aloha spirit embraces people of all backgrounds.

Historical Population Trends in Hawaii

Pre-Statehood Population Changes

The population of Hawaii has undergone dramatic shifts since the islands were first settled. When the ancient Polynesians arrived around 400-500 AD, the population was small and scattered across the islands.

By the time Captain James Cook arrived in 1778, estimates put the Native Hawaiian population at around 300,000. Unfortunately, contact with Europeans introduced deadly diseases like smallpox and measles, causing the Native Hawaiian population to plummet to just 40,000 by 1900.

In the early 19th century, Hawaii became a hub for whaling and trade, attracting immigrants from Asia, Europe, and North America. Sugar and pineapple plantations drove even more immigration from China, Japan, Portugal, and the Philippines.

This influx caused Hawaii’s population to steadily rise in the decades leading up to statehood. Still, the Native Hawaiian population continued to decline until the 1920s due to disease and assimilation.

Post-Statehood Trends and Events

Hawaii experienced massive population growth after achieving statehood in 1959. Tourism boomed, driving development and opportunity. Hawaii’s population surpassed 1 million in 2006 and continues to rise steadily.

However, this rapid growth has also caused challenges related to overcrowding, rising prices, lack of housing, and environmental pressure.

There have been some key events and demographic shifts in the decades since statehood:

  • Baby boomer migration in the 1960s and retirement relocation expanded the white population.
  • The Hawaiian cultural renaissance in the 1970s revived traditions and the Hawaiian language.
  • Asian immigration from Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines has increased ethnic diversity.
  • The cost of living and housing costs has made it difficult for Native Hawaiians and working class to thrive in an economy dependent on tourism and the military.

Going forward, Hawaii strives to find a balance between economic growth and preservation of the unique island culture and environment. The Aloha Spirit continues to persevere, with Hawaii having one of the most racially and culturally integrated populations in the world!🌺

Hawaii Population Forecasts and Projections

The population of Hawaii has seen steady growth over the past few decades. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Hawaii in 2022 was estimated to be around 1.47 million people. That’s up from 1.36 million in 2010 and 1.21 million in 2000.

So what does the future hold for Hawaii’s population?

Population Projections

The State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) regularly puts out population projections for the state and its counties. Here are some of the key projections from their latest report in 2022:

  • Hawaii’s population is projected to reach 1.65 million by 2045.
  • The population is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 0.4% between 2025-2045, slower than the 0.6% growth rate seen over the past decade.
  • Honolulu County on Oahu is projected to add over 100,000 residents between 2025-2045.
  • Hawaii County on the Big Island is forecast to have the fastest growth rate in the state at 1.1% per year.

Driving Hawaii’s population growth are both natural increase (births minus deaths) and net in-migration from domestic locations and abroad. The neighborhoods of Ewa, Kapolei and Waipahu on Oahu and Keauhou on Hawaii Island are expected to see rapid housing and population expansion in the coming decades.

Why Population Growth Matters

Tracking and forecasting Hawaii’s population is important for several reasons:

  • It allows state agencies and local governments to appropriately plan for infrastructure, housing, healthcare, education, emergency response, transportation and more to meet future needs.
  • Businesses use the projections to guide investment decisions and labor force planning.
  • It sheds light on emerging community needs and demographic changes.

While Hawaii’s isolated island geography means its population growth is more moderate compared to many other states, the forecasts still demand adequate preparations. For example, the 2022 DBEDT projections suggest Hawaii will need around 64,000 new housing units constructed over the next 20 years to meet demand.

Ongoing affordable housing shortages also must be addressed.

Challenges and Opportunities

Hawaii’s population growth presents both difficulties and possibilities. On the challenge side, strains on infrastructure and public services will increase. Congestion may worsen with more vehicles on the road.

Overcrowding at popular visitor sites and increased impacts on sensitive ecosystems are also concerns. Maintaining the state’s cultural heritage and small-town character will require thoughtful community development policies.

However, more residents and visitors also bring many benefits. A larger population supports economic expansion with more jobs, incomes and tax revenues generated. This allows for enhanced government services over time.

Community diversity and cultural fusion improve as people from various backgrounds call Hawaii home. Technological innovations may also accelerate to serve island needs. Overall there is much room for progress if changes are well managed.

Factors Driving Population Changes in Hawaii

Birth and Death Rates

Hawaii has seen fluctuations in both birth and death rates over the past few decades. The crude birth rate in Hawaii peaked in 2007 at 15.9 births per 1,000 people. Since then, it has declined to 13.0 births per 1,000 in 2019 (1).

Similarly, the crude death rate hit a recent low of 6.8 deaths per 1,000 people in 2011 before ticking back up to 7.4 per 1,000 in 2019.

There are likely many reasons for Hawaii’s falling birth rate and fluctuating death rate. The high cost of living makes raising children difficult in the state. Culturally, young Hawaiians may also be waiting longer to start families. Meanwhile, an aging population is placing pressure on death rates.

Life expectancy in the state is over 81 years on average (2), indicating advanced medical care and services are keeping elderly residents alive longer.

Domestic and International Migration

The movement of people into and out of Hawaii also hugely impacts total population numbers. Over the last decade, roughly 5,000-7,000 more people move away from the state to the U.S. mainland each year than move from the mainland to Hawaii (3).

This results in a net domestic migration loss for the islands.

International migration tells a different story. For many years, around 8,000-9,000 foreign immigrants arrived in Hawaii annually while only 3,000-5,000 existing residents moved abroad. This produced steady net international migration gains, essentially offsetting losses in domestic migrants.

Migration, both domestic and foreign, will continue impacting Hawaii’s total headcount. Affordable housing shortages and the state’s remoteness from the continental U.S. may discourage some newcomers. However, Hawaii maintains strong appeal as a desirable place to live thanks to its pleasant climate, natural beauty, and opportunities in tourism.


We’ve covered a deep look at Hawaii’s total population numbers across time, population density comparisons between islands, breakdowns by age, gender and ethnicity, historical trends and events impacting population, forecasts for the future, and the key drivers of population change.

Understanding the demographics and trends of Hawaii’s diverse population provides critical insight for governments, businesses, and planning in the Aloha State. We hope this comprehensive 3,000+ word guide has fully answered your question on what the current and historical population of Hawaii is.

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