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Region of Niihau Island


Region of Niihau Island
Region : Niihau Island
State : Hawaii
Country : United States
Continent : North America
Population : 130
Area : 180.0 sq km
Latitude : 21°54′N
Longitude : 160°10′W
Visiting Niihau Island

Niʻihau or Niihau (/ˈniːhaʊ/; Hawaiian: [ˈniʔiˈhau]) is the westernmost and seventh largest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands in the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi, lying 17.5 miles (15.2 nmi; 28.2 km) southwest of Kauaʻi across the Kaulakahi Channel and having an area of 69.5 square miles (180 km2).[3] Several intermittent playa lakes provide wetland habitats for the Hawaiian coot, the black-winged stilt, and the Hawaiian duck. The island is designated as critical habitat for Brighamia insignis, an endemic and endangered species of Hawaiian lobelioid. The United States Census Bureau defines Niʻihau and the neighboring island and State Seabird Sanctuary of Lehua as Census Tract 410 of Kauai County, Hawaii. Its 2000 census population was 160;[4] As of June 2009, the population was 130.[5]

Elizabeth Sinclair purchased Niʻihau in 1864 from the Kingdom of Hawaii and private ownership passed on to her descendants, the Robinson family. During World War II, the island was the site of the Niʻihau Incident: A Japanese navy fighter pilot crashed on the island and terrorized its residents for a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The people of Niʻihau are known for their gemlike lei pūpū (shell lei) craftsmanship, and speak Hawaiian as a primary language. The island is generally off-limits to all but relatives of the island's owners, U.S. Navy personnel, government officials and invited guests, giving it the nickname "The Forbidden Isle." Beginning in 1987, a limited number of supervised activity tours and hunting safaris have opened to tourists. The island is currently managed by Bruce and Keith Robinson.

Niʻihau's owners have offered half-day helicopter and beach tours of the island since 1987,[38] although contact with residents is avoided and no accommodations exist.[39] Since 1992,[40] hunting safaris provide income via tourists who pay to visit the island to hunt eland, aoudad, and oryx, as well as wild sheep and boars. Any meat the hunters do not take with them is given to the village.

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