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Hawaii Becomes a State
August 21, 1959

Hawaii officially became the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959. It is one of the smallest states, and it is the only state made up entirely of islands. The islands are the tops of volcanoes, some of them still active.

Hawaii's story begins long before 1959. The earliest inhabitants were Polynesians who settled in the islands more than 1,000 years ago. In 1778, a British explorer named Captain James Cook named them the Sandwich Islands. He honored his sponsor, the Earl of Sandwich. Thankfully, that name did not stick. How would you like to tell your friends you planned to go to Sandwich on vacation?

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