Chinese immigration to Hawai’i
Encouraged by King Kamehameha I, Hawaii exported sandalwood to China from 1792 to 1843. As a result, Chinese people dubbed the Hawaiian Islands “Tan Heung Shan”, roughly translates to “Fragrant Sandalwood Hills” in Cantonese.
Most of the Chinese immigrants arrived in Hawaii during the mid-to-late 19th century, when 46,000 Chinese migrated to the islands as laborers for sugar plantations in Hawaii. A large number of them arrived in 1852, connected to 5 year work contracts. When their plantation contracts expired, many decided to remain in Hawaii and opened businesses in Honolulu; we now know the area as Chinatown. A small group of Hong Kong immigrants were contracted to work the plantations on the island of Maui. By 1882, Chinese made up nearly half of the plantation work force.