University of Hawaii at Hilo Catalog 2013–2014

Community and Environment

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The University is located in the city of Hilo, on the east side of Hawaiʻi Island, about 200 air miles from Honolulu. The peaceful city of Hilo offers a moderate cost of living, a beautiful environment, and a highly diverse, low-density population of about 45,000. Within ten minutes of campus are shopping malls, theaters, and restaurants, as well as a major harbor and international airport.

Hilo is set against the backdrop of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of five volcanoes that form the island. Each of the mountains varies in geographic features, together spreading out over 4,208 square miles, and creating more distinctive climate zones and ecosystem types than anywhere else in the state. Besides snow-capped mountains and deserts, Hawaiʻi Island offers dormant and active volcanoes, lava flows encircling lush rainforests, rivers slicing through wind-swept pastures, and coastal reefs dropping off into the ocean. The University designs many of its programs for hands-on learning in this living laboratory.

Palm trees and beautiful foliage accent this port city and the campus. To nurture the lush tropical foliage, trade winds bring abundant rains, occasionally heavy, with most of the precipitation falling at night. Daytime temperatures often reach 80 degrees with night time temperatures seldom falling below 65 degrees.

The economy of Hawaiʻi Island is still in transition following the demise of the sugar industry in the nineties. The three mainstays of the economy are adapting to this change with a spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity. Agriculture is diversifying, tourism is growing to include eco- and edu-tourism, and astronomy facilities continue to develop an ever-larger scholarly and technical community to support the world renowned observatories atop Mauna Kea. UH Hilo plays a significant role in the island’s economic revitalization through its commitment to workforce development for the new knowledge-based economy and its emphasis on applied research to benefit the island, state, and region.