From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hilo is a coastal town in the State of Hawaii. It is the largest settlement
on the island of Hawaii, and the second largest settlement in the state. The
population was 40,759 at the 2000 census.
Hilo is the county seat of Hawaii County, Hawaii, and is situated in the
South Hilo District. The town overlooks Hilo Bay, and is near two shield
volcanoes, Mauna Loa, considered active, and Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano
upon which some of the best ground-based astronomical observatories are
Hilo is home to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, as well as the Merrie
Monarch Festival, a week-long celebration of ancient and modern hula, which
takes place annually after Easter. It is also home to the Mauna Loa
Macadamia Nut Corporation, one of the world's leading producers of macadamia
nuts. It is served by Hilo International Airport, inside the CDP.
Although archaeological evidence is scant, people certainly inhabited the
areas along Hilo Bay, Wailuku and Wailoa Rivers before the Western world
Originally, the name Hilo applied to the whole district of Hilo, now divided
into South Hilo District and North Hilo District. When William Ellis visited
in 1823, the main settlement in Hilo district was Waiākea on Hilo Bay.
Missionaries came to the district in the early to middle 1800s, founding
several churches, notably Haili Church, in the area of modern Hilo.
Hilo expanded as sugar plantations in the surrounding area made sure that
they didn't move and drew in many workers from Asia, and the city became a
A breakwater across Hilo Bay was begun in the 1900s and completed in 1929.
On April 1, 1946, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake near the Aleutian Islands
created a fourteen-meter high tsunami that hit Hilo hours later, killing 160
people. In response an early warning system, the Pacific Tsunami Warning
Center, was established to track these killer waves and provide warning.
This tsunami also meant the end of the Hawaii Consolidated Railway, and
instead the Hawaii Belt Road was built north of Hilo using some of the
On May 23, 1960, another tsunami, caused by a 9.5 magnitude earthquake off
the coast of Chile the previous day, claimed 61 lives allegedly due to
people's failure to heed warning sirens. Low-lying bayfront areas of the
city on Waiākea peninsula and along Hilo Bay, previously populated, were
rededicated as parks and memorials.
Hilo expanded inland beginning in the 1960s. The downtown found a new role
in the 1980s as the city's cultural center with several galleries and
museums being opened; the Palace Theatre was reopened in 1998 as an arthouse
Closure of the sugar plantations (including those in Hāmākua) during the
1990s led to a downturn in the local economy, coinciding with a general
statewide slump. Hilo in recent years has seen commercial and population
growth as the neighboring district of Puna became the fastest-growing region
in the state.
Geography and climate
Hilo is located at 19°42′20″N 155°5′9″W / 19.70556°N 155.08583°W / 19
70556; -155.08583 (19.705520, -155.085918).
Hilo is classified by the United States Census Bureau as a census-designated
place (CDP), and has a total area of 58.4 mi² (151.4 km²), 54.3 mi² (140.6
km²) of which is land and 4.2 mi² (10.7 km²) of which (7.10%) is water.
Hilo's location on the eastern side of the island of Hawaii (windward
relative to the trade winds) makes it the wettest city in the United States
and one of the wettest cities in the world. An average of 128.53 inches (3
265 mm) of rain fell on Hilo International Airport annually between 1949 and
2008. At some other weather stations in Hilo the annual rainfall is above
200 inches (5,100 mm).
The warmest month is September with an average high of 83.7°F and an average
low of 68.6°F. The coolest month is February with an average high of 79.2°F
and an average low of 63.4°F. The highest recorded temperature was 94°F on
May 20, 1996, and the lowest recorded temperature was 53°F on February 21,
1962. The wettest year was 1994 with 182.81 inches and the driest year was
1983 with 68.09 inches. The most rainfall in one month was 50.82 inches in
December 1954. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 16.87 inches on February 20
1979. Measurable precipitation falls on an average of 277 days annually.
Hilo's location on the shore of the funnel-shaped Hilo Bay also makes it
vulnerable to tsunamis.
Government and politics
Although sometimes called a "city", Hilo is not an incorporated city, and
does not have a municipal government. The entire island, which is slightly
smaller than the state of Connecticut but larger than Rhode Island and
Delaware, is under the jurisdiction of Hawaii County, of which Hilo is the
Hilo is home to county, state, and federal offices.
Hilo and its outlying areas are traditionally more Democratic-leaning than
West Hawaii, which adds to tension between the two major municipal areas. It
has also presented more opposition to development than other large
communities elsewhere in the state.
Hilo has a large tourism sector, as is prevalent across the whole island.
Hilo, as the second largest city in the state of Hawaii, is home to shopping
centers, movie theaters, hotels, restaurants, and a developed downtown area.
The Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation has its home here as well.
La Serena, Chile