Oahu is the third biggest of the Hawaiian Islands and is the island with the largest population in the state of Hawaii. Oahu covers an area of five hundred and ninety-seven square miles and has a population of nine hundred and five thousand residents. Oahu contains the capital of Hawaii on it southeastern coast. Oahu is a popular destination for tourist because of the natural beauty of the island and the fact that it contains over two hundred and twenty-seven miles of shoreline. The island is formed by two seperate shield volcanos. These are Waianae and Koolau. The tallest point on the island is Kaala Mountain, which is situated in the Waianae Mountain Range. This mountain rises over four thousand feet above sea level.
Oahu can trace its history to the Alii Kingdom of the Hawaiian Islands. The first king of this kingdom was Mailikukahi, who was followed by generation after generation of kings. During the eighteenth century, the throne of the Alii Kingdom was passed to Kahahana. By 1783, Oahu was conquered by the Maui King, Kahekili II. After ousting the ruling family, Kahekili II put his son Kalanikupule on the throne of Oahu. During the Battle of Nuuanu, Kalanikupule was defeated by Kamehameha. Kamehameha then founded the Kingdom of Hawaii. By 1810, the islands of Kauai and Niihau surrendered to the king and the unification of Hawaii was complete. Kamehameha III then moved the Hawaiian capital from Lahaina to Honolulu.
A popular attraction on the island of Oahu is the Hawaii State Art Museum. This museum was founded in 1928 and is constructed in the Spanish Mission architectural style. This museum has a seventy seat mult function room, a resource center and three distinct galleries. Another prominent attraction on Oahu is Kawaiahao Church. This church was founded in the middle of the nineteenth century and is made out of sea coral. Seven tons of sea coral was used in its construction making it one of the most unique and unusual places of worship in the United States. Another architectural beauty on the island is Iolani Palace. This palace was built in 1882 and used as the royal palace for King Kalakaua. It would serve as the family’s royal palace for eleven years until the United States government deposed the royal family. For lovers of the arts, Oahu has the Honolulu Academy of Arts which was founded by Mrs. Charles Cook in 1922. This museum has an impressive collection of over thirty-seven thousand pieces of art that has been gathered from all over the globe.
Just west of the city of Honolulu is Pearl Harbor. This harbor and the surrounding area is a naval base for the United States Navy and is the headquarters of its Pacific Fleet. Originally, the harbor was named Wai Momi by the Hawaiians, which means pearl water. This is because much of the harbor was over loaded with oysters during most of the nineteenth century. During the rule of King Kalakaua, the United States was granted exclusive rights to use Pearl Harbor as a repair and coaling station. In 1887, the U.S. Senate gave the Navy permission to lease the harbor as a naval base. After the navy leased the harbor, it was refitted to allow more ships to dock at the harbor. On December 7. 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked by one hundred and eighty-three Japanese planes. This attack was followed by a second wave that contained a total of one hundred and seventy Japanese planes.
A total of nine U.S ships were sunk and twenty-one ships were damaged. Of those sunk, the USS Arizona was hit and sunk in a matter of seconds. The American death toll of the attack reached twenty-three hundred and fifty casualties. Today, Pearl Harbor is a National Historic Landmark. Ships and submarines that are homeported here include USS Russell, USS Chung-Hoon, USS Chosin, USS Lake Erie, USS Reuben James, USS Paul Hamilton, USS Chafee, USS Hopper, USS Port Royal, USS O’Kane, USS Crommelin, USS Columbus, USS Tucson, USS Los Angeles, USS Jacksonville, USS Key West, USS Louisville, USS Santa Fe, USS Cheyenne, USS Pasadena, USS Bremerton, USS Charlotte, USS Texas, USS Columbia, USS La Jolla, USS Greeneville, USS Chicago, USS Hawaii and the USS Olympia.