Asian immigration to Hawaii

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Most early Asian settlers to the United States went to Hawaii. Most of these early immigrants moved to the islands as laborers to work on the pineapple, coconut, and sugarcane plantations, these early migrants have tended to stay, although a handful returned to their home countries. There has also been recent immigration to Hawaii from more ethnic Asian groups, including the Thai, Indonesian, and the Vietnamese.


Filipinos, like most other East Asian immigrants to Hawaii, worked on the sugar plantations; in 2010, Filipinos surpassed Japanese as the largest ethnic group. At the time of the 2000 census, they were the third largest ethnic group in the islands.


Until 2010, people of Japanese ancestry made up the majority of Hawaii's population, after the breakout of World War II, More than 110,000 Japanese Americans in the mainland U.S., who mostly lived on the West Coast, were forced into internment camps. However, in Hawai'i, where 150,000-plus Japanese Americans composed over one-third of the population, only 1,200 to 1,800 were also interned.[2]


Koreans mainly came to the islands to work on the pineapple and sugar plantations, but a few, including the family of Mary Paik Lee, came to the mainland (usually California) after experiencing extreme discrimination.


The Chinese discovered the Hawaiian islands in 1778; the same year as English explorer James Cook[citation needed]. A few also came to the islands among the crew of James Cook. Today, some Chinese born on the islands can claim to be seventh generation.


People of Indian origin did not come to Hawaii in sizable numbers, and those who did not stay for long. Many early Indian immigrants stopped in Hawaii only to make enough money to sail on to the mainland anywhere from the mid to late 1800's to the 1900s.

A notable Indian in Hawaii was Dalip Singh Saund, who on September 13, 1910, arrived in Honolulu from his home village in Punjab, India at the age of 14. He labored in the sugarcane fields for about two months to earn enough money to continue on to California, on November 18, 1910, he arrived on Angel Island. At one point, Saund was the nation's largest celery grower.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Jonathan H. X. Lee; Kathleen M. Nadeau (2011). Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife. ABC-CLIO. pp. 333–334. ISBN 978-0-313-35066-5. Since the Philippines was colonized by Spain, Filipino Americans in general can speak and understand Spanish too. 
  2. ^ Ogawa, Dennis M. and Fox, Jr., Evarts C. Japanese Americans, from Relocation to Redress. 1991, page 135.