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Hawaii is the most recent of the 50 U.S. states (August 21, 1959), and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of Australia. Hawaii's diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches and oceanic surrounding, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike. Due to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vibrant native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of O'ahu.
The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian Island chain, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight "main islands" are (from the northwest to southeast) Ni'ihau, Kaua'i, O'ahu, Moloka'i, Lāna'i, Kaho'olawe, Maui, and Hawai'i. The last is by far the largest and is often called "The Big Island" to avoid confusion with the state as a whole. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.
Hawaii is the 8th-least extensive, the 11th-least populous, but the 13th-most densely populated of the 50 United States. Hawaii's coastline is approximately 750 miles (1,210 km) long, which is fourth in the United States after Alaska, Florida, and California.
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