EAST HAWAII F.A.Q. BOOK Hawaii Tribune-Herald Sunday, September 13, 2015 3 Who are we, and how many people live on the Big Island? Mahalo! FIRST PLACE HILO 935-0875 380 KANOELEHUA AVE KONA 334-4200 74-5511 LUHIA STREET KEAAU 966-5466 WWW.HPMHAWAII.COM 16-166 MELEKAHIWA STREET WAIMEA 885-6036 64-1027 MAMALAHOA HWY Hawaii Island, known to locals as the state’s Big Island, is a place seemingly defined by growth. Thanks to its active volcanoes — including the ongoing, 30-year-plus Kilauea lava flow — Hawaii Island continues to gain in land mass. In fact, between January 1983, the start of the current Kilauea eruption, and September 2002, the island gained 543 acres, or 0.85 square miles, according to volcanologists. At most recent count, Hawaii’s Big Island had an area of 4,028 square miles — large enough to fit all the other Hawaiian Islands comfortably inside its borders. But the island also steadily has been adding people to the equation. Since the late 1800s, the island has seen nearly consistent population growth, except for a few decades following America’s entry into World War II, when isle residents left to fight overseas and later to take jobs in the growing state government sector following Hawaii’s achieving statehood in 1959. Meanwhile, the burgeoning military and tourism industries also lured residents of the Neighbor Islands to Oahu, according to University of Hawaii at Hilo sociologist Alton Okinaka. “Agriculture, which was the mainstay of the economy for the other islands, became increasingly less viable with modern shipping,” he said. It was at this time the once all-powerful sugar industry began its decadeslong decline, he said. “Also, the government modernized and the bureaucracy grew, again, centered in Honolulu,” Okinaka said. At the time, he said, there were no county governments until they were later created by the state Legislature. “Without the influx of workers for sugar, and with the jobs increasingly in Honolulu, the shift in population followed,” he said. However, the Neighbor Islands’ populations again picked up steam when the U.S. Census Bureau registered increases during the 1960s, followed by a huge leap in the 1970s and each decade since as more people moved to Hawaii. Growth in the 1970s was because of an influx of people from the mainland, as well as refugees following the Vietnam War, Okinaka said. “Also, with the change to a very service-based economy, the growth in job opportunities was really in Honolulu, so we saw an interesting migration pattern with locals moving to Honolulu in search of jobs while outsiders moved into the state, including the Neighbor Islands,” he said. At last official count, Hawaii Island’s population By COLIN M. STEWART Hawaii Tribune-Herald See WHO Page 4 HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald The American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Hilo kicks off with survivors and caregivers taking the first lap around the track at Wong Stadium.
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