aboriginal culture of Hawaii is Polynesian. Hawaii represents the northernmost extension of the vast
Polynesian triangle of the south and central Pacific Ocean. While traditional Hawaiian culture remains only as vestiges in modern Hawaiian society, there are reenactments of the ceremonies and traditions throughout the islands. Some of these cultural influences are strong enough to affect the United States at large, including the popularity (in greatly modified form) of
luaus and hula.
Tourism in Hawaii. In 2003 alone, according to state government data, there were over 6.4 million visitors to the Hawaiian Islands with expenditures of over $10 billion. Due to the mild year-round weather, tourist travel is popular throughout the year. The summer months and major holidays are the most popular times for outsiders to
visit Hawaii, however, especially when residents of the rest of the United States are looking to escape from cold, winter weather. The Japanese, with their economic and historical ties to Hawaii and the USA as well as relative geographical proximity, are also principal tourists.
Hawaii is home to numerous cultural events. The annual
Merrie Monarch Festival is an international Hula competition.The state is also home to the
Hawaii International Film Festival, the premier film festival for pacific rim cinema.
Honolulu is also home to the states long running GLBT film festival, the Rainbow Film Festival.
The Hawaiian language has about 2000 native speakers, less than 0.1% of the total population. According to the
United States Census, there were 27,160 total speakers of the language in Hawaii in 2005.
Hawaiian is a Polynesian member of the Austronesian language family. It is closely related to other
Polynesian languages, such as Marquesan, Tahitian, Māori, Rapa Nui (the language of
Easter Island), and less closely to Samoan, and Tongan.
According to Schütz (1994), the Marquesans colonized the archipelago in roughly 300 AD followed by later waves of immigration from the
Society Islands and Samoa-Tonga. Those Polynesians remained in the islands, thereby becoming the Hawaiian people. Their languages, over time, became the Hawaiian language.Kimura and Wilson (1983) also state, "Linguists agree that Hawaiian is closely related to Eastern Polynesian, with a particularly strong link in the Southern Marquesas, and a secondary link in Tahiti, which may be explained by voyaging between the Hawaiian and Society
Islands. Before the arrival of Captain James Cook, the Hawaiian language had no written form. That form was developed mainly by American Protestant
missionaries during 1820–1826. They assigned letters from the Latin alphabet that corresponded to the Hawaiian sounds.
Interest in Hawaiian increased significantly in the late 20th century. With the help of the
Office of Hawaiian Affairs, specially designated immersion schools were established where all subjects would be taught in Hawaiian. Also, the
University of Hawaii developed a Hawaiian language graduate studies program. Municipal codes were altered to favor Hawaiian place and street names for new civic developments.
Hawaiian distinguishes between long and short vowels. In modern practice, vowel length is indicated with a
macron (kahakō). Also, Hawaiian uses the glottal stop as a consonant (okina). It is written as a symbol similar to the apostrophe or opening single quote.
The Hawaii Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long cultural festival that takes place annually in Hilo, Hawaii. It honors King David Kalākaua, who was called the "Merrie Monarch" for his patronage of the arts. He is credited with restoring many Hawaiian cultural traditions during his reign, including the hula. Many hālau hula (schools), including some from the U.S. mainland and Japan, attend the festival each year to participate in the festival exhibitions and competitions, which are considered the most prestigious of all hula contests.
The music of Hawaii includes an array of traditional and popular styles, ranging from native Hawaiian folk music to modern rock and hip hop. Hawaii's musical contributions to the music of the United States are out of proportion to the state's small size. Styles like slack-key guitar are well-known worldwide, while Hawaiian-tinged music is a frequent part of Hollywood soundtracks. Hawaii also made a major contribution to country music with the introduction of the steel guitar.
Traditional Hawaiian folk music is a major part of the state's musical heritage. The Hawaiian people have inhabited the islands for centuries and have retained much of their traditional musical knowledge. Their
Hawaii music is largely religious in nature, and includes chanting and dance music. Hawaiian music has had an enormous impact on the music of other Polynesian islands; indeed, music author Peter Manuel called the influence of Hawaiian music a "unifying factor in the development of modern Pacific musics".