Honolulu, Hawaii, the state capital and the seat of Honolulu County. Honolulu is on the southeast shore of Oahu island, about 2,400 miles (3,860 km) southwest of San Francisco. It is on a plain extending from the sea back to the slopes of the volcanic Koolau Range. Diamond Head, a 761-foot (232-m) volcanic cone of solidified ash, commands the eastern approach to the city. Honolulu's climate is subtropical and balmy, with average monthly temperatures ranging from about 70° to 80° F. (21° to 27° C.). Nearby cities include Pearl City, Aiea, and Waipahu, in the Pearl Harbor area, and Kailua and Kaneohe, just beyond the Koolau Range.
Honolulu is a major air and sea transportation hub for the Pacific and is Hawaii's leading financial, commercial, and manufacturing center. Tourism is a major economic activity; few cities of comparable size attract as many visitors. The Waikiki section, with its sandy beach and luxury high-rise hotels and condominiums, is especially popular with tourists. Large military installations in or near the city have long been major sources of income and employment.
Honolulu is the seat of several institutions of higher learning, including the University of Hawaii, Chaminade University, and Hawaii Pacific University. Iolani Palace, formerly the residence of the Hawaiian royal family, was the state capitol until it was replaced by a distinctive new structure in 1969. The governor of Hawaii lives in Washington Place, once the home of Queen Liliuokalani. Museums include the Bishop Museum, with exhibits pertaining to Hawaii and the Pacific basin, and the Academy of Arts. The city has a symphony orchestra, a zoo, several botanical gardens and arboretums, a planetarium, an aquarium, and many parks.
In 1794 the British explorer Captain William Brown became the first white man to enter Honolulu's harbor. Missionaries from New England arrived in 1820. In 1850 Honolulu was declared the capital of Kamehameha III's kingdom. It remained Hawaii's capital after the islands were annexed by the United States in 1898 and made a state in 1959. Honolulu was slightly damaged in the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. The city grew rapidly during the last half of the 20th century.