Hawai’i is home to an incredibly diverse ethnic population of 148,000 inhabitants. Approximately 28% of the people are Caucasian, 29% Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian, and 15% Japanese. The remaining residents are primarily of Filipino, Chinese, and other Pacific Islander descent.
The Big Island is divided into nine districts. Since the trade winds normally blow from the northeast, the west side of the island experiences drier and warmer weather than the east side, which is generally cooler and wetter. The Kona coffee growing region spans the North and South Kona Districts, an area 20 miles long and 2 miles wide, on the western slopes of two volcanoes, Hualalai (8,500 feet) and Mauna Loa (13,400 feet).
The South Kona District is an extremely historical area. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (Place of Refuge) National Historical Park offers glimpses of life in ancient Hawai’i. In the early years of Hawaiian civilization, it was to the Place of Refuge that people who broke kapu (sacred laws) would attempt to flee. If the kapu breaker could reach this sanctuary, his life was spared. At Kealakekua Bay, just up the coast from the park, one can look across the water and see the Big Island as Captain James Cook did when he anchored his ship there in 1779.