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Hawaii Political Information


Hawaii is governed by a state constitution that was originally adopted in 1950; it was amended in 1959, at the time of admission to statehood, and further amended at the constitutional convention of 1968.

The governor and lieutenant governor, elected for concurrent terms of four years, must be members of the same political party. They are not permitted to serve more than two consecutive terms. The only other elected members in the 17 departments of the executive branch are the members of the Board of Education.

The bicameral legislature consists of the Senate, with 25 elected representatives from 25 senatorial districts, serving four-year terms, and the House of Representatives, consisting of 51 members elected from 51 districts for two-year terms. The state judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, an intermediate appellate court, four circuit courts, and four district courts, as well as a family court, a land court, and a tax appeal court. Judges in the higher courts are appointed by the governor, subject to approval of the Senate.

Hawaii's governmental structure is unique among the states in that it is limited to two levels of government: the state and the four counties, each with a mayor and a council. There are no municipal governments.

Primary elections are held in October and general elections in November. Party competition is intense in Hawaiian politics. During the first half of the century, the Republican Party remained dominant, but party success at the polls began to seesaw somewhat, and the Democratic Party has captured a majority of House, Senate, and council seats on several occasions.


Hawaii holds a strategic position in the defense system of the United States. Pearl Harbor, a vast shipyard for the repair and overhaul of U.S. fleet units, is the home port for many U.S. naval ships. It serves as a training base for submarine and antisubmarine warfare forces. The headquarters of the commander in chief, Pacific, and of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, are at Camp H.M. Smith. The major army, marine, and air force bases are Schofield Barracks, Fort Shafter, Fort De Russy, Hickam and Wheeler air force bases, and the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Air Station.

In addition to these there are military installations, camps, and airfields of varying sizes throughout the state. More than 100,000 U.S. military personnel and their dependents are stationed in or have their home port in Hawaii, and their presence has an important influence on the local economy and social life.


Hawaii's school system provides educational facilities from nursery school through the graduate school level. Institutions of higher learning include the University of Hawaii, several smaller private colleges, and a state-established system of two-year community colleges. Private business, technical, and specialized schools provide additional educational facilities and opportunities.

The Center for Cultural and Technical Interchange Between East and West, commonly referred to as the East-West Center, is a project of the federal government housed at the Manoa campus of the University of Hawaii. It provides specialized and advanced academic programs and technological training to students from the United States and from countries in Asia and the Pacific.

Health and welfare:

The Department of Health maintains hospitals, health centres, clinics, care centres, and nursing services. The Hawaiian Home Lands Commission controls the transfer of land use to qualified persons of Hawaiian ancestry for homesteading.

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