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Adventurous and enterprising Chinese arrived in Hawaii around 1778.
An abundant supply of sandalwood shipped to South China in the early
1800's brought Hawai'i to the attention of Chinese in South China.
Because the sandalwood was shipped from the islands, Hawai'i was
called Tan Xiang Shan- Sandalwood Mountains- a name used by Chinese
to this day. The largest wave of Chinese immigrants, some 46,000,
came to Hawai'i between 1850 and 1898 and these pioneers became sugar
planters, farmers, craftsmen, merchants, and traders in the main
port towns of Honolulu, Lahaina and Hilo. The early Chinese
immigrants coming to Hawai'i dreamed they would make a fortune
and then return to live in China permanently, however, most of them
established Chinese-Hawaiian families and spent the rest of their
lives in Hawai'i.
Following tradition, the Chinese families highly emphasized on education
and they encouraged the young generation of Chinese to pursue higher
education and professional training on the mainland U.S. This strong
emphasis on education has resulted in a highly favorable
economic and social position for Chinese men and women in Hawai'i.
As a result, most of the Chinese in Hawaii are employed in higher-lever
skilled jobs such as clerical, managerial, professional and political
positions and as a group Chinese enjoy the highest median of income
of all ethnic groups in Hawai'i.
At present, ninety-five percent of all Chinese live on Oahu. The Chinese
in Hawai'i have assimilated into the islands' multi-ethnic society,
but continue to honor their ancient cultural root.