Once you're finished packing up your life and your home is sold, you may find you would like to take a vacation before heading for your new home and your new job in Central Asia. If you're flying a westerly course to reach your destination, you might consider stopping over in the Hawaiian islands for your vacation. There are plenty of interesting things to see, including Pearl Harbor. If you're not familiar with Pearl Harbor, this article will introduce you to the history of this famous location, which is a must-visit for tourists to Hawaii.

Pearl Harbor is located on the island of Oahu just west of the state capital of Honolulu. In addition to being a beautiful location, Pearl Harbor is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet and was the location of the famous attack in December of 1941 that brought the United States into World War II. If you had a copy of the movie Pearl Harbor or a Pearl Harbor documentary in your library, visiting this city is a great way to experience the history first hand.

In the Hawaiian culture, which is still very much alive in these islands, Pearl Harbor was originally a bay called Pu'uloa, neighbor to the dolphin god Ka'ahupahu. Keaunui, head of the Ewu chiefs, widened the estuary and made it the navigable harbor that it is today. Americans were negotiating with the Hawaiians for use of the harbor as early as 1820, when America and Mexico were competing for influence as well as whaling and trading rights in the area. To this day Hawaii is still a major hub of the shipping trade, moving millions of goods each year.

The base for which Pearl Harbor is famous did not come about until the turn of the century. After the Spanish American war of 1898, the United States became interested in establishing a base on Oahu and with the signing of a treaty between the Hawaiian kingdoms and the US government, Pearl Harbor was created in 1899. A coal shortage and an outbreak of plague hindered the use of turret punches for shipbuilding and exploration, but by 1905 they had commandeered much of the surrounding land to make a major base.

On December 7, 1941 the naval base was attacked by aircraft and submarines belonging to the Japanese Navy. Much like today's residents would be, the sailors were caught off guard and many ships were sunk within the harbor. Over 2,400 were killed and 1,200 wounded. The event led to the United States declaring war on Japan and its allies. Visitors to Pearl Harbor can see monuments to sunken ships such as the Arizona and the Utah as well as hundreds of modern active Navy ships.

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