The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument or Papahānaumokuākea as it is commonly called is a World Heritage listed, U.S. National Monument encompassing 140,000 square miles (360,000 km2) of ocean waters, including ten islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, internationally recognized for both its cultural and natural values as follows:
"The area has deep cosmological and traditional significance for living Native Hawaiian culture, as an ancestral environment, as an embodiment of the Hawaiian concept of kinship between people and the natural world, and as the place where it is believed that life originates and to where the spirits return after death. On two of the islands, Nihoa
and Makumanamana, there are archaeological remains relating to pre-European settlement and use. Much of the monument is made up of pelagic and deepwater habitats, with notable features such as seamounts and submerged banks, extensive coral reefs and lagoons. It is one of the largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world.
The monument covers roughly 140,000 square miles (363,000 km2) of reefs, atolls and shallow and deep sea (out to 50 miles (80 km) offshore) in the Pacific Ocean – larger than all of America's National Parks combined.It contains approximately 10 percent of the tropical shallow water coral reef habitat (i.e., 0 to 100 fathoms) in U.S. territory.It is slightly larger than Australia
's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, approximately the size of the country of Germany, and just slightly smaller than Montana.