In 1959, the American flag gained a star as Hawaii became the 50th state of the union. American presence on the islands dates back to the 18th century, as traders in sandalwood, sugar planters, and missionaries influenced the politics, economics, and culture of the indigenous Polynesian population.
Hawaii's location proved strategically important to the American military, with the naval base at Pearl Harbor playing major roles in the Spanish-American War and World War II. Hawaii became a US protectorate and formal territory on its way to statehood.
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