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Oahu - Enviornment

Oahu Environment

The eight major Pacific islands of Hawaii, of which 594-sq-mi (1540-sq-km) Oahu is the third largest and the most developed, have a total land area of 6467 sq mi (16,750 sq km). There are also 96 near-floating islands that collectively cover less than 3 sq mi (8 sq km), and another 33 rocks with a combined area of less than 5 sq mi (13 sq km) that are flung out over 1000mi (1600km) of ocean to the west of the main group. The nearest continental land mass is over 2480mi (4000km) away.

Like its siblings, Oahu is the tip of an underwater mountain, the result of volcanic activity under the Pacific Plate. The island is roughly shaped like an elephant's head, with the western Waianae Range forming the pachyderm's ear, and the long Koolau Range in the east forming the trunk - if you disbelieve the resemblance, just drain a few piƱa coladas (rain optional) and then look at a map of the island. Oahu is skirted by dazzling beaches and underwater reefs. It also used to be covered in native forest, particularly sandalwood, but they were mostly leveled to make way for sugar and pineapple plantations, and more recently to address the lamentable shortage of golf courses (the island has a paltry 36 of them).

Tropical flowers love Oahu, especially hibiscus, of which there are several thousand varieties. Other native flora include pohuehue (a beachside morning glory); the koa tree, which can grow to 100ft (30m) high; and the yellow-orange ilima, the island's official bud. Local fauna includes the India-introduced myna bird, the Achatinella (tree snail), the Hawaiian monk seal, and, in winter, the giant humpback whale.

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