Kalawao county is on the Kalaupapa Peninsula, on the north coast of the island of Moloka'i.
The small peninsula of Kalaupapa is isolated from the rest of Moloka'i by sea cliffs over a quarter-mile high the
only land access is a mule trail.
Kalawao County is a separate county from the rest of Moloka'i, which is part of Maui
County. Maui County does not claim jurisdiction over the three villages of Kalaupapa, Kalawao, and Waikolu.
The county is co-extensive with the Kalaupapa National Historical Park, and encompasses
the Kalaupapa Settlement where the Kingdom of Hawaii, the territory, and the state once exiled persons suffering
from leprosy (Hansen's disease) beginning in the 1860s. The quarantine policy was lifted in 1969, after the disease
became treatable on an outpatient basis and could be rendered non-contagious. However, many of the resident patients
chose to remain, and the state has promised they can stay there for the rest of their lives. No new patients, or
other permanent residents, are admitted. Visitors are only permitted as part of officially-sanctioned tours. State
law prohibits anyone under the age of 16 from visiting or living there.
In terms of population size, Kalawao County is second smallest in the United States, behind only Loving County,
As of the 2000 Census, there were 147 people, 115 households, and 21 families residing in the county
The Hawaiian place name, Kalaupapa, translates into "flat leaf" which is what the peninsula appears as
off the north pali coast of the island of Moloka'i.