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Molokaʻi or Molokai (/ˈmɒləkaɪ/; Hawaiian: [ˈmoloˈkɐʔi]) is an island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is 38 by 10 miles (61 by 16 km) in size at its extreme length and width with a usable land area of 260 square miles (673.40 km2), making it the fifth largest of the main Hawaiian Islands and the 27th largest island in the United States. It lies east of Oʻahu across the 25-mile (40 km) wide Kaiwi Channel and north of Lānaʻi, separated from it by the Kalohi Channel. The lights of Honolulu are visible at night from the west end of Molokaʻi, while nearby Lānaʻi and Maui are clearly visible from anywhere along the south shore of the island. The shape of Molokai Island can be recalled as that of a shoe or a fish. Molokaʻi is distinguished in the Roman Catholic religion as the longtime residence of Father Damien de Veuster, a Belgian priest and Mother Marianne Cope of the Sisters of St. Francis, both of whom have been canonized Roman Catholic Saints for their treatment and care given during the 19th century to long term sufferers of Hansen's Disease, also known as leprosy.A site of a Roman Catholic Saint is deemed a sacred place and is visited by practising Catholics from around the world for giving prayers asking for healing and religious guidance. The Kalaupapa Colony is one of the two sites in the United States where a Roman Catholic Saint resided; it is the only single site where two Saints (Saint Damien and Saint Marianne) both resided.
Historically, a small north shore colony on Molokaʻi, Kalaupapa, was the place where sufferers of Hansen's Disease were forced into quarantine by the Hawaiian government, but there are no active cases of Hansen's Disease on Molokaʻi today. Those who continue to live in the settlement are patients who chose to stay after the segregation policy was lifted in 1969. The first European sailor to visit the island was Captain George Dixon in 1786.
For years, residents of Molokaʻi have resisted attempts to dramatically increase tourism. This island is also the least populated, according to 2012 population test. Community members successfully opposed the development company Molokai Ranch's attempt to expand through the "Save La'au Point" movement. As a result, on March 24, 2008 what was then the island's largest employer decided to shut all operations including hotels, movie theater, restaurants, and golf course and dismiss 120 workers. Molokaʻi has Hawaiʻi's highest unemployment rate.
National Geographic Traveler magazine and the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations conduct annual Destination Scorecard surveys, aided by George Washington University. In 2007, a panel of 522 experts in sustainable tourism and destination stewardship reviewed 111 selected human-inhabited islands and archipelagos around the world. Molokaʻi ranked 10th among the 111 locales. The survey cited Molokaʻi's pristine, breathtaking tropical landscape, environmental stewardship, rich and deep Hawaiian traditions (the island's mana), and visitor-friendly culture. The neighbor islands Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi, Maui and Oʻahu, ranked 50, 61, 81 and 104, respectively. Tahiti ranked 57. Molokai is also the title of the 2010 Christmas Special of BBC Radio 4's "Cabin Pressure", a show about an airplane crew in which each episode's title is the destination they are flying to.
Molokai is believed to be the birthplace of hula and the annual Molokai Ka Hula Piko festival is held on this island.