Population Decline of Native Hawaiians
The Native Hawaiian population decrease rose at an alarming rate since the first notable contact with Westerners in 1778. Disease was a major factor in this decline. Smallpox, cholera, and even the flu were introduced, and then decimated the Hawaiian people in record numbers. Venereal disease such as gonorrhea also had an additionally insidious effect of sterilizing its victims!
The perfection of the marine chronometer aided European cartographers in map making and was a primary reason for increased foreign invasion in the Hawaiian Islands. When the Hawaiian Islands were charted on maps beginning in the 1700’s, sailors, merchants, and missionaries came in droves until devastating consequences were reflected in cultural losses, loss of lands, way of life, and most importantly, decreasing numbers of the Hawaiian people.
Foreigners were instrumental in exploiting the natural resources in the region. Discovery that large profits could be made from the whaling industry, the sandalwood trade, and the subsequent development of sugar plantations brought famine, cultural disruption, and intermarriage to Hawaiian families. Combined with diseases, these factors had a fatal effect on the population of Native Hawaiian people.
In 2003, only 5000 individuals identified themselves as Native Hawaiian. This figure does not include races that identify themselves as part-Hawaiian, which is an independent category. In 2010, the United States Census combined all races from the Pacific Island region into one category and counted 540,013 individuals. This category includes people from the Philippines, Guam, Micronesia, Samoa, Tonga, and other island nations.