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ISLAND OF HAWAi'i (The Big Island)
Hawaiʻi is said to have been named for Hawaiʻiloa, the legendary Polynesian navigator who first discovered it. Other accounts attribute the name to the legendary realm of Hawaiki, a place from which the Polynesian people are said to have originated, the place where they go in the afterlife, the realm of the gods and goddesses.
Captain James Cook, the English explorer and navigator who discovered the Hawaiian Islands called them the "Sandwich Islands" and was killed on the Big Island at Kealakekua Bay following the theft of a ship's boat. Hawaiʻi was the home island of Paiʻea Kamehameha, later known as Kamehameha the Great. Kamehameha united most of the Hawaiian islands under his rule in 1795, after several years of war, and gave the kingdomand the island chain the name of his native island.
Hawaii County is one of seven counties in the United States to share the same name as the state in which it is located (the other six counties are Arkansas County, Idaho County, Iowa County, New York County, Oklahoma County, and Utah County).
The Island of Hawaiʻi is built from five separate shield volcanoes that erupted somewhat sequentially, one overlapping the other. These are (from oldest to youngest):
Kohala — extinct
Mauna Kea — dormant
Hualālai — active
Mauna Loa — active, partly within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Kīlauea — active: has been erupting continuously since 1983; part of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Geological evidence from exposures of old surfaces on the south and west flanks of Mauna Loa led to the proposal that two ancient volcanic shields (named Ninole and Kulani) were all but buried by the younger Mauna Loa. Geologists now consider these "outcrops" to be part of the earlier building of Mauna Loa. Another volcano which has already disappeared below the surface of the ocean is Māhukona.Because Mauna Loa and Kīlauea are active volcanoes, the island of Hawaii is still growing. Between January 1983 and September 2002, lava flows added 543 acres (220 ha) to the island. Lava flowing from Kīlauea has destroyed several towns, including Kapoho in 1960, and Kalapana and Kaimu in 1990. In 1987 lava filled in Queen's Bath, a large, L-shaped, freshwater pool in the Kalapana area.Steam plume as Kīlauea red lava enters the ocean at three Waikupanaha and one Ki lava ocean entries. Some surface lava is seen too. The southmost point in the 50 States of the United States, Ka Lae, is on Hawaii. The nearest landfall to the south is in the Line Islands. To the north of the Island of Hawaii is the Island of Maui, whose Haleakala volcano is visible from Hawaii across the Alenuihaha Channel.About 35 km (22 mi) southeast of Hawaii lies the undersea volcano known as Loihi. Loihi is an erupting seamount that now reaches about 3,200 feet (980 m) below the surface of the ocean. Continued activity from Loihi will likely cause it to break the surface of the ocean sometime from 10,000 to 100,000 years from now.