Sugar Changed the Social Fabric of the Islands
A century after Captain James Cook's arrival in Hawaiʻi, sugar plantations started to dominate the landscape. Sugar‐cane farming proved to be the only available crop that could be grown. However, a shortage of laborers to work in the growing (in size and number) sugar plantations became a challenge. The only answer was imported labor.
There were three big waves of workforce immigration: Chinese 1852; Japanese 1885 and Filipinos 1905. Several smaller, but substantial, migrations also occurred: Portuguese 1877; Norwegians 1880; Germans 1881; Puerto Ricans 1900; Koreans 1902 and Spanish 1907. It is not likely anyone then foresaw the impact this would have on the cultural and social structure of the islands; the sugar industry is at the center of Hawaiʻi's modern diversity of races and ethnic cultures.