Hilo is the seat of Hawaii County on the eastern coast of the island of Hawaii, between Keaau and Papaikou. It lies along Highway 11 near Hilo Bay and Lelewi Point.
The area was settled by missionaries around 1822 and incorporated as a city in 1911. Hilo sustained heavy damage from tsunamis in 1946 and 1960. Its current economy, based on sugar and tourism, was thrown into high gear with the 1967 commencement of direct flights to the U.S. mainland.
Today Hilo, population 40,759, is one of the state's largest cities. It has a busy seaport and is a commercial and tourist hub of the island. Sugarcane, fruits, macadamia nuts and orchids, are cultivated in the surrounding area. Hilo's environs are imbued with a wealth of visitor diversions, among them beaches and watersports, golf courses and tennis courts, scenic drives, state parks, museums, botanical gardens and nurseries as well as flightseeing and tours of plantations. The University of Hawaii has a campus in the city.