There are seven continents in our world: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Antarctica, and Australia/Oceania. Each country and region belongs to one of these groups.
However, understanding which continent specific countries belong to can be challenging at times. Hawaii, in particular, is an area where the continent it belongs to is frequently disputed.
In this article, we will find out which continent Hawaii truly belongs to.
All You Need To Know About Hawaii
Hawaii is one of the most beautiful regions on planet Earth. It is located in the Pacific Ocean, and is made up of eight main islands:
Before we dig deeper into the true geographic location of the 50th US state, let’s take a look at a brief history of Hawaii.
The historical context will help us understand which continent Hawaii belongs to, and why this is such a difficult question to answer.
The Hawaiian Islands (300 AD – 1700s)
Polynesians were thought to have been the first people to discover the Hawaiian islands back in 300 AD.
They arrived in canoes from the Marquesas Islands, and established the earliest documented human settlement there.
The population grew over the years, yet still remained small and tight-knit, with the settlers living and feeding from the land and ocean.
The European Visitors (1778 – 1810)
In 1778, the Europeans first arrived at Hawaii.
A British explorer named James Cook (also known as Captain Cook) was amongst the Europeans arriving at the island.
When they returned in 1779, Cook attempted to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu, the ‘king’ of Hawaii, and this resulted in his death.
Diseases and illnesses were introduced to the islands by the Europeans throughout the following years, causing the native population to drop dramatically.
In 1810, Kamehameha, a Hawaiian chief, unified the islands into a single kingdom.
The American Invasion (1820s – 1900)
The first American missionaries arrived at the islands ten years later, and by 1898, the United States had fully conquered the islands.
The islands became the territory of Hawaii on June 14, 1900.
The Attack On Pearl Harbor (1941)
The territory of Hawaii was devastated during WWII when the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service launched a surprise military attack on the naval facility at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu.
The attack lasted 90 minutes, and resulted in 1,143 casualties and 2,335 fatalities.
The United States had stayed neutral until this time, but the attack prompted the country to enter the war less than 24 hours later.
The territory of Hawaii would be ruled by the military for the following three years, and would be spared the rest of the war.
During this time, the people of Hawaii concentrated on re-establishing the community.
The 50th US State (1959)
Nearly two decades later, it was proposed that Hawaii become a US state.
A referendum was held, with 94.3 percent of Hawaiian inhabitants voting in favor, and only 5.7 percent voting against statehood.
In August 1959, Hawaii became the 50th US state.
Hawaii: The Oceanic State Of America?
As we mentioned in the previous section, Hawaii became an American state in the late 1950s, joining the other 49 states of the US.
It is the most recent state to join the US, following Alaska, which became an official US state in the January of the same year (1959).
By this logic, it would be safe to assume that, in terms of continents, Hawaii is part of North America. Politically, this is true: it is a US state, therefore it is part of North America.
However, geologically, this is not correct.
Hawaii is the only state in the United States that is not connected to the rest of the country.
The islands can be located around 2000 miles (3,218.69 km) south-west of the continental United States.
Hawaii is located in the midst of the Oceania region, which means it is geographically a part of the Oceania region, the world’s seventh continent.
So, now, it would be assumed that the continent that Hawaii is a part of is, actually, Oceania.
This statement is, also, not correct.
Unfortunately, the answer to the question, ‘What continent is Hawaii in?’ is not as straightforward as one would assume.
The location of Hawaii has aroused many concerns over the years, due to the fact that the islands of Hawaii are not located on either the North American or Oceania continents.
So, while Hawaii politically belongs to North America, and geologically belongs to Oceania, it doesn’t officially belong to either of these continents.
Which Continent Is Hawaii (Officially) In?
If Hawaii isn’t a part of North America or Oceania – the two continental areas that it is surrounded by, and closest to – which continent does it really belong to?
Hawaii is located 2,392 miles west of North America’s closest point (San Francisco) and 4,536 miles northeast of Oceania’s closest point, which is the continent of Australia.
The islands are also, however, only 3,900 miles east of Asia’s nearest point (Tokyo), making it closer to Asia than Oceania.
These are all important landmarks on the North American, Asian, and Australian continents, yet Hawaii is physically separated from them all, making it very difficult to answer the titular question of this article.
The official answer to this question is the following: Hawaii does not actually have an official continent that it belongs to.
Depending on whom you ask, you may receive different answers to this question. And, well, there are different answers to this question, and none of them are technically incorrect.
Politically, it belongs to North America. Geographically, it belongs to Oceania.
Officially, though, Hawaii does not belong to any continent. It stands alone.
So, there we have it! Hawaii does not officially belong to any of the 7 continents of the world, despite the fact that it can be located in the Oceania continental group, and is, politically, a part of the United States (North America).
All geographical factors considered, it is legitimate to declare that Hawaii does not belong to any of the continents.
Since it is a US state, it is politically part of the North American continent, however if the criteria of proximity and distance are followed, Hawaii is more connected to Oceania than North America.
We hope you found this article interesting and helpful.