Hawaiian is an Austronesian language spoken by about 8,000 people on the Hawaiian islands. Hawaiian first appeared in writing in the early 19th century in a version of the Latin alphabet developed by missionaries, who started to visit the Hawaiian islands from 1820 onwards. Literacy among the Hawaiian people was widespread during the 19th century when Hawai'i was an independent kingdom. Dozens of Hawaiian language newspapers were published, together with Hawaiian translations of religious works and novels and Hawaiian transcriptions of traditional stories.
After Hawaii was annexed by the USA in 1899, the Hawaiian language was banned from schools and went into rapid decline. By the 1980s, there was only about 2,000 Hawaiian speakers, most of whom were elderly.
In 1978 Hawaiian was made an official language of Hawaii, along with English, and since then there has been a revival of interest in the language. There are now several schools where most subjects are taught through the medium of Hawaiian and Hawaiian classes are popular at all levels of education.