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Oahu is the most populous of the Hawaiian islands and the center of the state’s business district. Nicknamed the “Gathering Isle,” it has 596.7 square miles of land. More than 70 percent of Hawaii’s total population of 1.3 million live on Oahu. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the island had 953,207 people living on it in 2010.

Oahu is the only island that is part of both of Hawaii’s two congressional districts, the 1st and the 2nd. The 1st Congressional District is essentially urban Honolulu but it extends from the eastern tip of Hawaii Kai to Waipahu in the west and central Mililani. The 2nd Congressional District encompasses all of Hawaii’s other populated islands as well as rural northern and western regions of Oahu.

Some of the state’s largest tourist attractions are located on Oahu. These include WaikikiHanauma BayDiamond Head Crater and the famous big-wave surf spot, the North Shore. The U.S. military also has a significant presence on Oahu. Major military installations on the island include Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe BayFort ShafterHickam Air Force BaseBarber’s Point Naval Air Station and Schofield Barracks.

Oahu is the main hub for Hawaii politics, home to the Hawaii Legislature and the state’s governor.

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In the 2010 midterm elections, Democrats Neil Abercrombie and running-mate Brian Schatz won the election for Hawaii’s governor and lieutenant governor. They beat Republicans James “Duke” Aiona and running-mate Lynn Finnegan, 58-41 percent.

In the race to represent Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, Democrat Colleen Hanabusa unseated Republican incumbent Charles Djou. Hanabusa won 50-44 percent, taking in 93,974 votes compared to Djou’s 82,513.


Oahu’s economy – as is generally the case in Hawaii – revolves around tourism. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Oahu hosts about 4 million visitors a year.

Oahu historically has had low unemployment rates but those have risen with the global economic slump. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oahu’s 5.5 percent rate is significantly better than the national average of 9.6 percent (November, 2010). Oahu’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the islands.

An American Community Survey distributed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which compiled data between 2005 and 2009, revealed that the median household income in Honolulu County was $67,019, the highest in Hawaii.

Generally, Oahu employment breaks down into various sectors, according to data compiled through 2008: 35 percent were in management, professional or related occupations; 27 percent were in sales and office jobs; 21 percent were service-oriented; 9 percent in construction, maintenance or repair; and 7 percent in production, transportation or material moving occupations. Of these jobs, 72 percent were in private industry, 21 percent worked for federal, state government or local government and 7 percent were self-employed.

In 2008, 9 percent of Honolulu County residents lived in poverty.


According to a 1-year American Community Survey for 2008, there were 303,000 households on Oahu with an average household size of 2.9 people.

The majority of households — 70 percent — were families, including married couples (52 percent) and other families (18 percent). Honolulu County’s other 30 percent survey were either people living alone or people living in a household where no one was related to the home’s owner.

Just over half, or 53 percent of Oahu residents, were born in Hawaii.

The island is ethnically diverse, with no single racial group having a clear majority. That said, 44.6 of residents identify as “Asian,” which includes Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Filipino and others. The rest of Oahu is comprised of 25.7 percent “White,” 20.9 percent as “White persons not Hispanic,” 16.7 percent reporting “two or more races,” with the remainder claiming African American, Native American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and Hispanic or Latino origins.

Also in 2008, 64 percent of Oahu residents drove to work alone, 16 percent carpooled, eight percent rode The Bus and nine percent used other means. The average commute time to work was 27.3 minutes.


In Honolulu County, as of the 2010 census, about 90 percent of individuals over the age of 25 had graduated from high school. This is tied with the Big Island for the highest rate among the islands. About one-third had at least a college bachelor’s degree.

Oahu is the main island for Hawaii’s higher education opportunities. The following are some of the major college and university institutions, public and private:

University of Hawaii at Manoa 2500 Campus Road, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96822 http://manoa.hawaii.edu/ (808) 956-8111

University of Hawaii, West Oahu 96-129 Ala Ike, Pearl City, Hawaii, 96782 http://westoahu.hawaii.edu/ (808) 454-4700

Kapiolani Community College 4303 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96816http://kapiolani.hawaii.edu/page/home (808) 734-9000

Honolulu Community College 874 Dillingham Boulevard, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96817http://www2.honolulu.hawaii.edu/ (808) 845-9211

Leward Community College 96-045 Ala Ike, Pearl City, Hawaii, 96782 http://www.leeward.hawaii.edu/ (808) 455-0011

Windward Community College 45-720 Keaahala Road, Kaneohe, Hawaii, 96744 http://windward.hawaii.edu/(808) 235-7400

Chaminade University 3140 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96816 http://www.chaminade.edu/ (808) 735-4711

[[Brigham Young University – Hawaii]] 55-220 Kulanui Street, Laie, Hawaii, 96762 (808) 675-3211

Hawaii Pacific University 1164 Bishop Street, Suite #200, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813http://www.hpu.edu/index.cfm (808) 544-0200


Oahu has 596.7 square miles of land. It is the third largest island in the main chain behind Hawaii and Maui. Oahu is the 20th largest island in the United States.

At its widest, the island measures 30 miles across and 44 miles long. The highest peak is Mt. Ka’ala, measuring 4,025 feet above sea level. There is approximately 227 miles of shoreline around Oahu.

According to the Honolulu Board of Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home on Oahu sold for $622,450 in September 2010.


In 1845, the capitol of the Kingdom of Hawaii moved from Lahaina on Maui to Honolulu under King Kamehameha IIIIolani Palace would be built later to house the Hawaiian royalty.

In 1887, the Bayonet Constitution was forced on King David Kalakaua, stripping him of royal power. This would begin the eventual fall of the Hawaiian monarchy.

In 1893, a group of U.S. annexationists, led by Lorrin A. Thurston, fabricated a story that Americans were under attack in the islands. On January 17, Marines from the U.S.S. Boston aided the annexationists in the successful overthrow of the monarchy.

The islands became a territory of the United States until 1959 when Hawaii became a state.

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