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MOLOKAI PROFILE

The Last Hawaiian Place
Cherishing a History of Isolation and
A Sense of Remoteness

 

 

 

 
Molokai Travel Guide & Map

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Beach Resort, Molokai

BIOLOGY   Molokai has a wide variety of plant, marine and animal life. Many species are rare and endangered including the Pueo (Hawaiian owl) and the Humpback Whale (the official state marine mammal). Vegetation zones include coastal, dryland forest, mixed open forest, and rain forest.

CLIMATE    Like most of the Hawaiian Islands, Molokai has only two seasons: "summer" between May and October and "winter" between October and April. The island is divided into an arid western region and a verdant eastern region. Depending upon locale:


  • average temperature ranges from 75 (°F) to 85 (°F)
  • yearly average rainfall is 30 inches

CULTURAL HISTORY    Molokai, from earliest times, was revered and feared as a center for mysticism and sorcery. Today Molokai is a sanctuary for those who seek refuge from the real world.

A Word about Kalaupapa: Starting in 1866, Hawaii's victims of Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) were dumped on Molokai's Kalaupapa Peninsula to die. The isolated settlement was literally hell on earth until the arrival of Father Damien in 1873. A catholic priest from Belgium, he treated the exiles with dignity and gave them a sense of hope. Today, Hansen's Disease is treatable and is one of the least contagious of all communicable diseases. With the arrest of the disease, the remaining small community of resident patients on Kalaupapa choose to live in the only home they've ever known.

As part of Maui County, Molokai is a multi-cultural society with major immigration from:

  • Polynesia - 700 A.D.
  • United States - 1820
  • China - 1852
  • Japan - 1868
  • Portugal - 1878
  • Puerto Rico - 1900
  • Korea - 1903
  • Philippines - 1906
ECONOMY    Healthy In 2006! Key indicators are positive for continuing growth in the second half of this decade. 1 However, Hawaii's cost of living is among the highest in the nation and its 2004 per capita personal income below average. In fact, sources indicate a cost of living ranging from 30% above the national average to over 60% depending upon family size and circumstances - see the Price of Paradise!
  • 2005 Visitor Arrivals to the State totaled 7.4 million (a record) 2
  • 2005 Gross State Product was $54 billion 2

Major contributions to the State of Hawaii's economy include:
  • Visitor Expenditures: $11.8 billion (2005) - an all-time high* 2
  • Federal Defense Spending: $4.8 billion (2003) 3
  • Construction (Private Building Permits): $3.5 billion (2005) 4
* Visitor Expenditure figures are deceptive, since a certain percentage of tourism dollars do not remain in the Islands, but are returned to overseas investors.

With the demise of its sugar and pineapple industries in the 1990's, Hawaii is working to diversify its economy with a focus on industries such as science and technology, health and wellness tourism, diversified agriculture, ocean research and development, and film and television production. A Study currently being conducted by the State is looking at the extent to which the benefits from tourism can be maintained, while sustaining the quality of our social, economic and environmental assets.
 

On Molokai there are attempts at diversified aquaculture/agriculture to offset the collapse of pineapple cultivation. Tourism is minimal - approximately 74,683 visitors in 2005.

In ancient times Molokai was an affluent community boasting the most fishponds in the Islands and a prosperous adze quarry industry. Today's Molokians are the last survivors of a lost race holding on desperately to what little they have left - struggling to keep their island as it once was and wants to be.

EDUCATION    Molokai :
  • K-12 students in public schools (2005): 1325 (excluding Special & Charter Schools) 5
  • Number of Public schools (2005):     6 6
  • Number of Private schools (2005):   2 7
  • Molokai Education Center - part of Maui Community College
GEOGRAPHY    Molokai has 260.9 square miles of geographic diversity. Perpetually green valleys, tumbling waterfalls, scented pine forests, tangled bamboo thickets, trackless beaches, drifting sand dunes, sheer cliffs that hang from clouds to earth (the tallest in the world, dropping 3,000 feet to the sea). The island is approximately 38 miles long and 10 miles wide, with just over 88 miles of unspoiled coastline.

Molokai is:
  • located in Polynesia
  • near the center of the Pacific Ocean
  • just below the Tropic of Cancer
  • one of the most remote spots on Earth
  • 2,340 miles west of California
  • the fifth largest of the 8 main Hawaiian islands
GEOLOGY    Molokai (the third oldest island in the Hawaiian chain) rose from the sea roughly 2 million years ago.

Scientists say the Hawaiian Islands were born according to laws of nature, that volcanic forces pushed these underwater mountains above the surface of the ocean. The myths say the Hawaiian Islands were born of the spirit world. Maui, demi-god of old, stuck his giant fishhook into the ocean and pulled the islands from the sea.

Whichever you believe - it's a world unto itself.

GOVERNMENT    The Island of Molokai is part of Maui County. In Maui County, as throughout the State, there are no separate municipal governments. Maui County has an elected mayor with a four-year term (two-term limit) and a nine-member council with two-year terms. Attempts at creating an autonomous government for Molokai have to date been unsuccessful - its political voice goes largely unheard.

OFFICIAL COLOR AND FLOWER    The official color is green and the official flower is the kukui blossom.

POPULATION    Molokai:
  • had a resident population of 7,404 in 2000 10
  • it is estimated that over 2,500 of the island's 7,000+ inhabitants have more than 50% Hawaiian blood
  • except for Niihau (a small private island near Kauai), it is the only island where Hawaiians are the majority.

TOURISM    

Molokai had approximately 74,683 visitors in 2005.12 Neglect from the outside world sheltered Molokai and kept it unspoiled and made it "the Friendly Isle". While its sister islands have been developed, Molokai has stood still - its clock ticks more slowly than elsewhere.

If you need to be where nothing is happening - happiness is discovering Molokai. Time spent here is a good way to get acquainted with the old Hawaiian-style of life which involves family, fishing, and feasting with friends.

Data Sources

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