I thought names of archipelagos are always used with article the. Like in the example:

Germans love to take beach holidays in countries like the Maldives, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

However I encountered the example where the rule seems to be ignored:

When I went to Hawaii, my favorite island was Kauai.

Apparently I don't know how to use the article with names of chain of islands. So I would like you to teach me.

P.S. At first I thought maybe Hawaii is not considered an archipelago because it might be a part of some bigger island chain but wikipedia actually states that it is an archipelago in its own right: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archipelago

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    I don't think this is a matter of standards so much as just that "Hawaii" is the name of the state... you can certainly say you're going to "The Hawaiian Islands"... though. – Catija Aug 18 '16 at 17:05

Archipelago names that are plural are preceded by "the" (e.g. the Maldives, the Philippines), while names that are singular are not (e.g. Samoa, Hawaii).

A good list of commonly accepted countries preceded by "the" can be found here.

"The" is also generally used in the formal names of countries. For example, the formal name of China is "the People's Republic of China". The formal name of Samoa is "the Independent State of Samoa".


Be careful of anything that says always or never regarding use of articles, or pretty much anything about English. That said, one says the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii is the name of one of the islands in the island chain. It is also the name of the state. Some people also use it as a nickname for the island chain.


The Hawaiian Islands are generally refered to as Hawaii because together, the make up the State of Hawaii. Hawaii is also the largest and most visited of the islands, so people could often be referring to the specific island where the most likely stayed on their trip for example.

As for the archipelago rule, there is no such thing. Using the article "the" before a group of islands is only used to describe the group as a whole, where as if you were to only say "Hawaiian islands" you could be reffering to any number of them. Because Hawaii (the state) is a region that encompasses all and only all of the islands, it works.

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    Most likely, Oahu is the most visited, and Maui comes second. The island of Hawaii, otherwise known as the Big Island, gets visitors, but not to the same extent as the other two. – Steven Littman Aug 18 '16 at 20:19

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