Honolulu – Hawaii (USA)

Meaning ‘sheltered bay’ or ‘place of shelter’ in the Hawaiian language, Honolulu is the capital and the most populous city of the 50th U.S. state of Hawaii. The city covers the urban area of the southeastern shore of the island of O’ahu (600 square miles), which is located just within the tropic of cancer and about 3,500 kilometers west of the North America continent. Consolidating the city and county government, Honolulu is today a fusion of east and west cultures and increasingly reflects concern for the values and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people who arrived on the island from Polynesia nearly 2000 years ago. Despite its turbulent modern history that includes the illegal overthrow of the monarchy in 1893, Hawaii’s subsequent annexation by the United States in 1898, followed by a large fire in 1900, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Honolulu has remained the capital, largest city, and main airport and seaport of the Hawaiian Islands.

The southernmost major U.S. city, Honolulu is today a major financial center of the islands of the Pacific Ocean. It will host the APEC summit in November 2011. The population of the city is about 380,000, while the population of the city and county stands at about 925,000. This makes it the 12th largest municipality in the United States. Honolulu is also the country’s most populous state capital relative to state population. An economic and tourism boom following statehood in 1959 has brought rapid economic growth to Honolulu and Hawaii. Modern air travel brings about 8 million visitors annually to the islands, which contribute $10 billion annually to the local economy. Lined by numerous high-rise buildings, Waikiki Beach is the center of the tourism industry in Hawaii, offering thousands of hotel rooms to guest from around the world. The UK consulting firm Mercer, in a 2009 assessment conducted to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments, ranked Honolulu 29th worldwide in quality of living, based on factors of political stability, personal freedom, sanitation, crime, housing, the natural environment, recreation, banking facilities, availability of consumer goods, education, and public services including transportation.

Honolulu’s location in the Pacific also makes it a large business and trading hub, particularly between the East and West. Other important aspects of the city’s economy include military defense, research and development, and manufacturing. The City and County of Honolulu is currently constructing a 20-mile (32 km) transit line that will connect Honolulu with outlying suburban areas to the west of the city on the southwestern part of O’ahu. The Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project is aimed at alleviating traffic congestion while being integral in the westward expansion of the metropolitan area. The project however has been criticized for its cost, delays and potential environmental impacts.

‘Enterprise Honolulu’, a local business and development association, has liaised with the Honolulu municipal government to articulate the following ‘sustainability goals’ for the city: the generation of clean and local energy; the redevelopment of agriculture and the achievement of food security; support of the University of Hawaii as the city’s educational driver; a prosperous technology industry; and a growing visitor industry supported by the community.

The work of the Global Cities Institute in Honolulu is led by Manfred Steger. One of the key projects in Hawaii concerns the role of indigenous festivals in relation to the culture of globalization and the conditions of community sustainability. Working with the Institute’s former Deputy Director Nevzat Soguk, Barry Judd and Tim Butcher as research leaders of the Global Indigeneity and Reconciliation program have been developing strong relations with colleagues in indigenous studies at the University of Hawaii.

Globalizing indigeneity

This project supports the development of long-term strategic partnerships in the Pacific (The University of Hawaii) and North America (The University of Victoria, BC, Canada) to develop a network of scholars who share a passion and commitment in the exploration of Indigeneity in both local and global contexts.