Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

Overview
Solomon Islands (ˈsɒləmən ˈaɪləndz) is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of 28400 square kilometres (10,965.3 sq mi). The capital, Honiara
Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

, is located on the island of Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is a tropical island in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568...

. The nation of the Solomon Islands is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

.

The Solomon Islands are believed to have been inhabited by Melanesia
Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

n people for many thousands of years.
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Encyclopedia
Solomon Islands (ˈsɒləmən ˈaɪləndz) is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of 28400 square kilometres (10,965.3 sq mi). The capital, Honiara
Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

, is located on the island of Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is a tropical island in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568...

. The nation of the Solomon Islands is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

.

The Solomon Islands are believed to have been inhabited by Melanesia
Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

n people for many thousands of years. Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña was the first European to arrive in Solomon islands in 1568 and named them Islas Salomón. The United Kingdom established a protectorate over the Solomon Islands in 1893. In the Second World War there was fierce fighting between the Americans and the Japanese in the Solomon Islands campaign
Solomon Islands campaign
The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942...

 of 1942–45, including the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. The Solomon Islands is a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 with the Queen of the Solomon Islands, at present Elizabeth II, as the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. Danny Philip
Danny Philip
Danny Philip is a politician and diplomat from the Solomon Islands. He is the current Prime Minister, who came into office after the 2010 general election. He served as foreign minister from 1995 to 1996 and from July 2000 to June 2001...

 is the tenth and current Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands
Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands
The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands is Solomon Islands' head of government, consequent on being the leader of the party or coalition with majority support in the National Parliament. Solomon Islands is a Commonwealth realm. Since August 2010, the Prime Minister has been Danny Philip of the Reform...

. He was elected in August 2010.

Name


The country's official name, as established in the Constitution of Solomon Islands and as used by government as well as by the country's press, is "Solomon Islands", with no definite article
Definite Article
Definite Article is the title of British comedian Eddie Izzard's 1996 performance released on VHS. It was recorded on different nights at the Shaftesbury Theatre...

. Its name is thus reflected in international organisations such as Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands. In other English-speaking countries, however, the definite article is often added.

History


It is believed that Papuan
East Papuan languages
*Baining family*North Bougainville family — Bougainville*South Bougainville family — Bougainville*Central Solomon family...

-speaking settlers began to arrive around 30,000 BC. Austronesia
Austronesia
Austronesia, in historical terms, refers to the homeland of the peoples who speak Austronesian languages, including Malay, Filipino, Indonesian, Maori, Malagasy, native Hawaiian, the Fijian language and around a thousand other languages...

n speakers arrived c. 4000 BC also bringing cultural elements such as the outrigger canoe
Outrigger canoe
The outrigger canoe is a type of canoe featuring one or more lateral support floats known as outriggers, which are fastened to one or both sides of the main hull...

. It is between 1200 and 800 BC that the ancestors of the Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

ns, the Lapita
Lapita
Lapita is a term applied to an ancient Pacific Ocean archaeological culture which is believed by many archaeologists to be the common ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia...

 people, arrived from the Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago
The Bismarck Archipelago is a group of islands off the northeastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and is part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea.-History:...

 with their characteristic ceramic
Ceramic
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous...

s.

The first European to visit the islands was the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira
Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira
Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira was a Spanish navigator. Born in Congosto, in León, he was the nephew of Lope García de Castro, viceroy of Peru...

, coming from Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 in 1568. The people of Solomon Islands were notorious for headhunting
Headhunting
Headhunting is the practice of taking a person's head after killing them. Headhunting was practised in historic times in parts of China, India, Nigeria, Nuristan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Borneo, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Micronesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, and the Amazon Basin, as...

 and cannibalism
Cannibalism
Cannibalism is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy...

 before the arrival of the Europeans.

Missionaries began visiting the Solomons in the mid-19th century. They made little progress at first, because "blackbirding
Blackbirding
Blackbirding is a term that refers to recruitment of people through trickery and kidnappings to work as labourers. From the 1860s blackbirding ships were engaged in seeking workers to mine the guano deposits on the Chincha Islands in Peru...

" (the often brutal recruitment of labourers for the sugar plantations in Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

 and Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

) led to a series of reprisals and massacres. The evils of the labour trade prompted the United Kingdom to declare a protectorate over the southern Solomons in June 1893.

In 1898 and 1899, more outlying islands were added to the protectorate; in 1900 the remainder of the archipelago, an area previously under German jurisdiction, was transferred to British administration apart from the islands of Buka
Buka Island
Buka Island is the second largest island in the Papua New Guinean province of Bougainville.- History :Buka was first occupied by humans in paleolithic times, some 30,000 years ago...

 and Bougainville
Bougainville Island
Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. This region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons. The population of the province is 175,160 , which includes the adjacent island of Buka and assorted outlying islands...

, which remained under German administration as part of German New Guinea
German New Guinea
German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...

. Traditional trade and social intercourse between the western Solomon Islands of Mono and Alu (the Shortlands) and the traditional societies in the south of Bougainville, however, continued without hindrance.

Under the protectorate, missionaries settled in the Solomons, converting most of the population to Christianity. In the early 20th century, several British and Australian firms began large-scale coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

 planting. Economic growth was slow, however, and the islanders benefited little.

Second World War




With the outbreak of the Second World War, most planters and traders were evacuated to Australia, and most cultivation ceased. Some of the most intense fighting of the war occurred in the Solomons. The most significant of the Allied Forces' operations against the Japanese Imperial Forces was launched on August 7, 1942, with simultaneous naval bombardments and amphibious landings on the Florida Islands
Florida Islands
The Nggela Islands, also known as the Florida Islands, are a small island group in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands, a state in the southwest Pacific Ocean....

 at Tulagi
Tulagi
Tulagi, less commonly Tulaghi, is a small island in the Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Florida Island. The town of the same name on the island Tulagi, less commonly Tulaghi, is a small island (5.5 km by 1 km) in the Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Florida...

 and Red Beach on Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is a tropical island in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568...

.

The Battle of Guadalcanal became an important and bloody campaign fought in the Pacific War as the Allies began to repulse Japanese expansion. Of strategic importance during the war were the coastwatchers
Coastwatchers
The Coastwatchers, also known as the Coast Watch Organisation, Combined Field Intelligence Service or Section C, Allied Intelligence Bureau, were Allied military intelligence operatives stationed on remote Pacific islands during World War II to observe enemy movements and rescue stranded Allied...

 operating in remote locations, often on Japanese held islands, providing early warning and intelligence of Japanese naval, army and aircraft movements during the campaign.

Sergeant-Major Jacob Vouza was a notable coastwatcher
Coastwatchers
The Coastwatchers, also known as the Coast Watch Organisation, Combined Field Intelligence Service or Section C, Allied Intelligence Bureau, were Allied military intelligence operatives stationed on remote Pacific islands during World War II to observe enemy movements and rescue stranded Allied...

 who after capture refused to divulge Allied information in spite of interrogation and torture by Japanese Imperial forces. He was awarded a Silver Star
Silver Star
The Silver Star is the third-highest combat military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States armed forces for valor in the face of the enemy....

 Medal by the Americans, which is the United States' third-highest decoration for valor in combat. Islanders Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana
Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana
Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana were indigenous people of Solomon Islands, of native Melanesian descent, who found John F. Kennedy and his surviving PT-109 crew following the boat's collision with the Japanese destroyer Amagiri near Plum Pudding Island on 1 August 1943...

 would be noted by National Geographic for being the first to find the shipwrecked John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 and his crew of the PT-109
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109
PT-109 was a PT boat last commanded by Lieutenant, junior grade John F. Kennedy in the Pacific Theater during World War II...

. They suggested using a coconut to write a rescue message for delivery by dugout canoe, which was later kept on his desk when he became the president of the United States.


The Solomon Islands was one of the major staging areas of the South Pacific and was home to the famous VMF-214 "Black Sheep" Squadron
VMA-214
Marine Attack Squadron 214 is a United States Marine Corps fighter squadron consisting of AV-8B Harrier jets. The squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona and is under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 13 and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing .The squadron is best known as the...

 commanded by Major Greg "Pappy" Boyington
Pappy Boyington
Gregory "Pappy" Boyington was a United States Marine Corps officer who was an American fighter ace during World War II. For his heroic actions, he was awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. Boyington flew initially with the American Volunteer Group in the Republic of China Air Force...

. The Slot was a name for New Georgia Sound
New Georgia Sound
New Georgia Sound is the body of water that runs approximately through the middle of the Solomon Islands. The Sound is bounded by Choiseul Island, Santa Isabel Island, and Florida Island to the north, and by Vella Lavella, Kolombangara, New Georgia, and the Russell Islands to the south...

, when it was used by the Tokyo Express
Tokyo Express
The Tokyo Express was the name given by Allied forces to the use of Imperial Japanese Navy ships at night to deliver personnel, supplies, and equipment to Japanese forces operating in and around New Guinea and the Solomon Islands during the Pacific campaign of World War II...

 to supply the Japanese garrison on Guadalcanal. Of more than 36,000 Japanese on Guadalcanal, about 26,000 were killed or missing, 9,000 died of disease, and 1,000 were captured.

Independence


Local councils were established in the 1950s as the islands stabilised from the aftermath of the Second World War. A new constitution was established in 1970 and elections were held, although the constitution was contested and a new one was created in 1974. In 1973 the first oil price shock occurred, and the increased cost of running a colony became apparent to British administrators.

Following the independence of neighbouring Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 from Australia in 1975, the Solomon Islands gained self government in 1976. Independence was granted on 7 July 1978. The first Prime Minister was Sir Peter Kenilorea
Peter Kenilorea
Sir Peter Kenilorea KBE is a Solomon Islands politician, officially styled The Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Kenilorea as a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom....

, and the Solomon Islands retained the Monarchy.

Civil War


Commonly referred to as the tensions or the ethnic tension, the initial civil unrest was mainly characterised by fighting between the Isatabu Freedom Movement
Isatabu Freedom Movement
Isatabu Freedom Movement is a nationalist militant organisation of the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.The movement also included other factions such as the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army and the Guadalcanal Liberation Front which was led by warlord Harold Keke...

 (also known as the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army) and the Malaita Eagle Force
Malaita Eagle Force
Malaita Eagles Force is a militant organization, originating in the island of Malaita, in the Solomon Islands.It was set up during 'The Tension' in the Solomons, which were mainly centred on Guadalcanal, to defend diasporic Malaitans in Guadalcanal and the property of Malaitans that have left the...

 (as well as the Marau Eagle Force). (Although much of the conflict was between Guales and Malaitans, Kabutaulaka (2001) and Dinnen (2002) argue that the 'ethnic conflict' label is an oversimplification.

In late 1998, militants on the island of Guadalcanal commenced and had a campaign of intimidation and violence towards Malaitan settlers. During the next year, thousands of Malaitans fled back to Malaita or to the capital, Honiara (which, although situated on Guadalcanal, is predominantly populated by Malaitans and Solomon Islanders from other provinces). In 1999, the Malaita Eagle Force
Malaita Eagle Force
Malaita Eagles Force is a militant organization, originating in the island of Malaita, in the Solomon Islands.It was set up during 'The Tension' in the Solomons, which were mainly centred on Guadalcanal, to defend diasporic Malaitans in Guadalcanal and the property of Malaitans that have left the...

 (MEF) was established in response.

The reformist government of Bartholomew Ulufa'alu
Bartholomew Ulufa'alu
Bartholomew Ulufa'alu was the fifth Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands from 27 August 1997 to 30 June 2000....

 struggled to respond to the complexities of this evolving conflict. In late 1999, the government declared a four month state of emergency. There were also a number of attempts at reconciliation ceremonies but to no avail. He also requested assistance from Australia and New Zealand in 1999 but this was rejected.

In June 2000, Ulufa'alu was kidnapped by militia members of the MEF
Malaita Eagle Force
Malaita Eagles Force is a militant organization, originating in the island of Malaita, in the Solomon Islands.It was set up during 'The Tension' in the Solomons, which were mainly centred on Guadalcanal, to defend diasporic Malaitans in Guadalcanal and the property of Malaitans that have left the...

 who felt that although he was a Malaitan, he was not doing enough to protect their interests. Ulufa'alu subsequently resigned in exchange for his release. Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Damukana Sogavare was the sixth Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2006 to 2007. He has served in the National Parliament as Member for East Choiseul since 1997, and he is currently the Leader of the Opposition.-Biography:Sogavare was Permanent...

, who had earlier been Finance Minister in Ulufa'alu's government but had subsequently joined the opposition, was elected as Prime Minister by 23–21 over Rev. Leslie Boseto
Leslie Boseto
Rev. Leslie Boseto is a member of the National Parliament of the Solomon Islands. First elected in 1997, he currently chairs the Special Select Committee on Immunities, Privileges and Powers of Parliament. He lives on the island of Choiseul.-References:*...

. However Sogavare's election was immediately shrouded in controversy because six MPs (thought to be supporters of Boseto) were unable to attend parliament for the crucial vote (Moore 2004, n.5 on p. 174).
In October 2000, the Townsville Peace Agreement
Townsville Peace Agreement
The Townsville Peace Agreement was signed in Townsville, Australia on 15 October 2000 between the Malaita Eagle Force and the Isatabu Freedom Movement. The Agreement successfully calmed the situation in Honiara and the Islands in general after the coup d’état of June that year.-External links:*...

, was signed by the Malaita Eagle Force, elements of the IFM and the Solomon Islands Government. This was closely followed by the Marau Peace agreement in February 2001, signed by the Marau Eagle Force, the Isatabu Freedom Movement, the Guadalcanal Provincial Government and the Solomon Islands Government. However, a key Guale militant leader, Harold Keke
Harold Keke
Harold Keke is a Solomon Islands warlord involved with the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army .-Biography:The grandson of one of the founders of the South Seas Evangelical Church in Australia, Keke was raised a Catholic in the Solomons, but left the faith to become a petty criminal in Papua New Guinea...

, refused to sign the Agreement, causing a split with the Guale groups. Subsequently, Guale signatories to the Agreement led by Andrew Te'e joined with the Malaitan-dominated police to form the 'Joint Operations Force'. During the next two years the conflict moved to the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal as the Joint Operations unsuccessfully attempted to capture Keke and his group.

New elections in December 2001 brought Sir Allan Kemakeza
Allan Kemakeza
Sir Allan Kemakeza KBE was the seventh Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands from 2001 to 2006. He represented Savo/Russel Constituency in the National Parliament of Solomon Islands from 1989 to 2010 and was most recently Minister of Forestry December 2007 to August 2010...

 into the Prime Minister's chair with the support of his People's Alliance Party and also the Association of Independent Members. Law and order deteriorated as the nature of the conflict shifted: there was continuing violence on the Weathercoast while militants in Honiara increasingly turned their attention to crime and extortion. The Department of Finance would often be surrounded by armed men when funding was due to arrive. In December 2002, Finance Minister Laurie Chan resigned after being forced at gunpoint to sign a cheque made out to some of the militants. Conflict also broke out in Western Province between locals and Malaitan settlers. Renegade members of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) were invited in as a protection force but ended up causing as much trouble as they prevented.

The prevailing atmosphere of lawlessness, widespread extortion and ineffective police prompted a formal request by the Solomon Islands Government for outside help. With the country bankrupt and the capital in chaos, the request was unanimously supported in Parliament.

In July 2003, Australian and Pacific Island police and troops arrived in the Solomon Islands under the auspices of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). A sizable international security contingent of 2,200 police and troops, led by Australia and New Zealand, and with representatives from about 20 other Pacific nations began arriving the next month under Operation Helpem Fren. Since this time some commentators have considered the country a failed state
Failed state
The term failed state is often used by political commentators and journalists to describe a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government...

. However, other academics argue that rather than being a 'failed state', it is an unformed state: a state that never consolidated after decades since independence.

In April 2006, allegations that the newly elected Prime Minister Snyder Rini
Snyder Rini
Snyder Rini is a Solomon Islands politician who was briefly the eighth Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands from April to May 2006 and has been Minister for Finance and Treasury since December 2007...

 had used bribes from Chinese businessmen to buy the votes of members of Parliament led to mass rioting in the capital Honiara
Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

. A deep underlying resentment against the minority Chinese business community led to much of Chinatown in the city being destroyed. Tensions had also been increased by the belief that large sums of money were being exported to China. China sent chartered aircraft to evacuate hundreds of Chinese who fled to avoid the riots. Evacuation of Australian and British citizens was on a much smaller scale. Further Australian, New Zealand and Fijian police and troops were dispatched to try to quell the unrest. Rini eventually resigned before facing a motion of no-confidence in Parliament, and Parliament elected Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Damukana Sogavare was the sixth Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2006 to 2007. He has served in the National Parliament as Member for East Choiseul since 1997, and he is currently the Leader of the Opposition.-Biography:Sogavare was Permanent...

 as Prime Minister.

2007 earthquake and tsunami


On 2 April 2007, the Solomon Islands were struck by a major earthquake followed by a large tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

. Initial reports indicated that the tsunami, which mainly affected the small island of Gizo, was several metres high (perhaps as high as 10 metres (33 ft) according to some reports, 5 metres (16 1/3 ft) according to the Foreign Office). The tsunami was triggered by an 8.1 magnitude earthquake, with a hypocenter 349 kilometres (217 miles) northwest of the island's capital, Honiara
Honiara
Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...

, at Lat −8.453 Long 156.957 and at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles).

According to the United States Geologic Survey the earthquake struck at 20:39:56 UTC on Sunday, 1 April 2007. Since the initial event and up until 22:00:00 UTC on Wednesday, 4 April 2007, more than 44 aftershocks of a magnitude of 5.0 or greater were recorded in the region.

The death toll from the resulting tsunami was at least 52 people, and the tsunami destroyed more than 900 homes and has left thousands of people homeless.

Land thrust from the quake has extended out from the shoreline of one island, Ranongga
Ranongga
Ranongga is an island located in the New Georgia Islands group of Western Province, Solomon Islands.-History:Ranongga was sighted in 1787 by sailors Read and Dale....

, by up to 70 metres (230 ft) according to local residents. This has left many once pristine coral reefs exposed on the newly formed beaches.

Politics



The Solomon Islands is a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 and has a parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 of government. Queen Elizabeth II is the Monarch of the Solomon Islands
Monarch of the Solomon Islands
The monarchy of the Solomon Islands is a system of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign of the Solomon Islands. The present monarch of the Solomon Islands is Queen Elizabeth II. The Solomon Islands share the Sovereign with a number of Commonwealth realms...

 and the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

; she is represented by the Governor-General
Governor-General of the Solomon Islands
The Governor-General of Solomon Islands is the representative of the Queen of Solomon Islands, Elizabeth II. The Queen does not reside in the islands, and so the Governor-General serves as the country's de facto head of state in her absence....

 who is chosen by the Parliament for a five-year term. There is a unicameral parliament of 50 members, elected for four-year terms. However, Parliament may be dissolved by majority vote of its members before the completion of its term.

Parliamentary representation is based on single-member constituencies. Suffrage is universal for citizens over age 21. The head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 is the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands
The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands is Solomon Islands' head of government, consequent on being the leader of the party or coalition with majority support in the National Parliament. Solomon Islands is a Commonwealth realm. Since August 2010, the Prime Minister has been Danny Philip of the Reform...

, who is elected by Parliament and chooses the other members of the cabinet. Each ministry is headed by a cabinet member, who is assisted by a permanent secretary
Permanent Secretary
The Permanent secretary, in most departments officially titled the permanent under-secretary of state , is the most senior civil servant of a British Government ministry, charged with running the department on a day-to-day basis...

, a career public servant, who directs the staff of the ministry.

Solomon Islands governments are characterized by weak political parties (see List of political parties in Solomon Islands) and highly unstable parliamentary coalitions. They are subject to frequent votes of no confidence, and government leadership changes frequently as a result. Cabinet changes are common.

Land ownership is reserved for Solomon Islanders. The law provides that resident expatriates, such as the Chinese and Kiribati
Kiribati
Kiribati , officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 , and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the...

, may obtain citizenship through naturalization. Land generally is still held on a family or village basis and may be handed down from mother or father according to local custom. The islanders are reluctant to provide land for nontraditional economic undertakings, and this has resulted in continual disputes over land ownership.

No military forces are maintained by the Solomon Islands, although a police force of nearly 500 includes a border protection unit. The police also are responsible for fire service, disaster relief, and maritime surveillance. The police force is headed by a commissioner, appointed by the governor-general and responsible to the prime minister. On 27 December 2006, the Solomon Islands Government said it had taken steps to prevent the country's Australian police chief from returning to the Pacific nation. On 12 January 2007, Australia replaced its top diplomat expelled from the Solomon Islands for political interference in a conciliatory move aimed at easing a four-month dispute between the two countries.

On 13 December 2007, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Damukana Sogavare was the sixth Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2006 to 2007. He has served in the National Parliament as Member for East Choiseul since 1997, and he is currently the Leader of the Opposition.-Biography:Sogavare was Permanent...

 was toppled by a vote of no confidence in Parliament, following the defection of five Ministers to the Opposition. It was the first time a Prime Minister lost office in this way in the Solomon Islands. On 20 December, Parliament elected the Opposition's candidate (and former Minister for Education) Derek Sikua
Derek Sikua
David Derek Sikua served as the ninth Prime Minister of Solomon Islands from December 20, 2007 to August 25, 2010. He is a member of the Solomon Islands Liberal Party.-Career:Sikua is from Ngalitavethi Village in Guadalcanal Province...

 as Prime Minister, with 32 votes to 15.

Provinces



For local government, the country is divided into 10 administrative areas, of which nine are provinces administered by elected provincial assemblies, and the 10th is the town of Honiara, administered by the Honiara Town Council.
  1. Central
    Central Province (Solomon Islands)
    The Central Province is one of the provinces of the Solomon Islands, covering the Russell Islands, Nggela Islands and Savo Island. Its area comprises 615 km² and had a population of 21,577 as of 1999. The capital is Tulagi.-Islands:*Aeaun...

  2. Choiseul
    Choiseul Province
    The Choiseul Province is one of the nine provinces of the Solomon Islands. It lies between the island of Bougainville and Santa Isabel in the west of the Solomon Islands....

  3. Guadalcanal
    Guadalcanal Province
    Guadalcanal Province is one of the provinces of the Solomon Islands, consisting of the island of Guadalcanal. It is a 2,510 square mile island and is largely a jungle. Its name was given by Pedro de Ortega Valencia, born in the village of Guadalcanal in Seville, Spain...

  4. Isabel
    Isabel Province
    Isabel Province is one of the provinces of the Solomon Islands. It has a population of around 30,000 . The capital is Buala on Santa Isabel Island.Santa Isabel is the longest Island in the Solomon Islands, South Pacific...

  5. Makira-Ulawa
    Makira-Ulawa Province
    Makira-Ulawa Province is one of the provinces of the Solomon Islands. The main part of the province is Makira Island. It has a population of 31,006...

  6. Malaita
    Malaita Province
    Malaita Province is one of the largest provinces of the Solomon Islands. It is named for its largest island, Malaita . Other islands include South Malaita Island , Sikaiana Island, and Ontong Java Atoll. The provincial capital and largest urban center is Auki, located on Big Malaita...

  7. Rennell and Bellona
    Rennell and Bellona
    In 1793 Bellona Island was named after a passing British ship, the Bellona. Rennell Island may have been named for the oceanographer James Rennell, FRS . In 1799 according to a chart both islands were named Bellonas Island. In 1816 the islands were referred to as Rennell’s Isles.The names the...

  8. Temotu
    Temotu Province
    Temotu is the easternmost province of the Solomon Islands. The province was formerly known as Santa Cruz Islands Province. It consists, essentially, of two chains of islands which run parallel to each other from the northwest to the southeast.- Islands :...

  9. Western
    Western Province (Solomon Islands)
    Western Province is the largest of the provinces of the Solomon Islands. The area is renowned for its beautiful tropical islands, excellent diving and snorkelling, coral reefs and WWII wrecks, ecotourism lodges, and head-hunting shrines...

  10. Honiara City
    Honiara
    Honiara, population 49,107 , 78,190 , is the capital of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal Province, although it is a separately administered town...



Foreign relations


Solomon Islands is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, South Pacific Commission, South Pacific Forum, International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

/African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries
ACP countries
The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States is a group of countries , created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975. The group's main objectives are sustainable development and poverty reduction within its member states, as well as their greater integration into the world's economy...

 (EEC/ACP) (Lomé Convention
Lomé Convention
The Lomé Convention is a trade and aid agreement between the European Community and 71 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries, first signed in February 1975 in Lomé, Togo.- History :...

).

The political stage of the Solomon Islands is further influenced by its diplomatic importance to the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China
Foreign relations of the People's Republic of China
The foreign relations of the People's Republic of China guides the way in which it interacts with foreign nations. As a great power and emerging superpower, China's foreign policy and strategic thinking is highly influential. China officially states it "unswervingly pursues an independent foreign...

. The Solomon Islands gives diplomatic recognition
Diplomatic recognition
Diplomatic recognition in international law is a unilateral political act with domestic and international legal consequences, whereby a state acknowledges an act or status of another state or government in control of a state...

 to the ROC, recognizing it as the sole-legitimate government of all of China, giving Taiwan vital votes in the United Nations. Lucrative investments, political funding and preferential loans from both the ROC and PRC are increasingly manipulating the political landscape of the Solomon Islands.

Relations with Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

, which had become strained because of an influx of refugees from the Bougainville
Bougainville Island
Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. This region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons. The population of the province is 175,160 , which includes the adjacent island of Buka and assorted outlying islands...

 rebellion and attacks on the northern islands of the Solomon Islands by elements pursuing Bougainvillean rebels, have been repaired. A peace accord on Bougainville confirmed in 1998 has removed the armed threat, and the two nations regularized border operations in a 2004 agreement.

Military


Although the locally recruited British Solomon Islands Protectorate Defence Force
British Solomon Islands Protectorate Defence Force
The British Solomon Islands Protectorate Defence Force was the British colonial military force of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate . The Solomon Islands has not had military forces since it achieved independence from Britain in 1976...

 was part of Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 forces taking part in fighting in the Solomons during the Second World War, the country has not had any regular military forces since independence. The various paramilitary elements of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) were disbanded in 2003 following the intervention of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), and the RSIPF was disarmed. RAMSI has a small military detachment headed by an Australian commander with responsibilities for assisting the police element of RAMSI in internal and external security. The RSIPF still operates two Pacific class patrol boat
Pacific class patrol boat
The Pacific class is a class of 22 patrol boats built by Australia and donated to twelve South Pacific countries. Constructed from 1985 to 1997 and operated by militaries, coast guards or police forces of the twelve island nations, these boats are supported by the Pacific Patrol Boat Program...

s (RSIPV Auki and RSIPV Lata), which constitute the de facto navy of the Solomon Islands.

In the long-term it is anticipated that the RSIPF will resume the defense role. The police force is headed by a commissioner, appointed by the governor general and responsible to the Minister of Police, National Security & Correctional Services.

The police budget of the Solomon Islands has been strained due to a four-year civil war. Following Cyclone Zoe
Cyclone Zoe
Severe Tropical Cyclone Zoe was the most intense tropical cyclone recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.-Meteorological history:...

's strike on the islands of Tikopia
Tikopia
Tikopia is a small and high island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Covering an area of 5 km² , the island is the remnant of an extinct volcano. Its highest point, Mt. Reani, reaches an elevation of 380 m above sea level. Lake Te Roto covers an old volcanic crater which is 80 m...

 and Anuta
Anuta
Anuta is a small high island in the southeastern part of the Solomon Islands province of Temotu, the smallest permanently inhabited isolated Polynesian island.-Description:...

 in December 2002, Australia had to provide the Solomon Islands government with 200,000 Solomon dollars ($50,000 Australian) for fuel and supplies for the patrol boat Lata to sail with relief supplies. (Part of the work of RAMSI includes assisting the Solomon Islands Government to stabilise its budget.)

Equipment:
  • Pandur 6×6 APC
    Pandur 6X6 APC
    The Pandur is an APC developed and produced by the Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeuge . It was developed during the 1980s as a private venture, based in spanish BMR-600 design...

  • Toyota Land Cruiser
    Toyota Land Cruiser
    The is a series of four-wheel drive vehicles produced by the Japanese car maker Toyota Motor Corporation. It is not related to the Studebaker Land Cruiser car produced in the US from 1934-1954....

     SUV
  • Toyota 4Runner
    Toyota 4Runner
    The Toyota 4Runner is a mid-size SUV manufactured by Toyota and sold throughout the world from 1984 to the present. In Japan it was known as the Toyota Hilux Surf...

     pickup
  • 20 6 metres (19.7 ft) rigid hull inflatable boats – donated by Australian Federal Police
    Australian Federal Police
    The Australian Federal Police is the federal police agency of the Commonwealth of Australia. Although the AFP was created by the amalgamation in 1979 of three Commonwealth law enforcement agencies, it traces its history from Commonwealth law enforcement agencies dating back to the federation of...

  • 3 13 metres (42.7 ft) 20 rigid hull patrol boats – donated by Australian Federal Police
    Australian Federal Police
    The Australian Federal Police is the federal police agency of the Commonwealth of Australia. Although the AFP was created by the amalgamation in 1979 of three Commonwealth law enforcement agencies, it traces its history from Commonwealth law enforcement agencies dating back to the federation of...

  • modified Yamaha Motor Company
    Yamaha Motor Company
    , is a Japanese motorized vehicle-producing company. Yamaha Motor is part of Yamaha Corporation and its headquarter is located in Iwata, Shizuoka. Along with expanding Yamaha Corporation into the world's biggest piano maker, then Yamaha CEO Genichi Kawakami took Yamaha into the field of motorized...

     WZ250 off road motorcycles

Geography



The Solomon Islands is an island nation that lies east of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 and consists of many islands: Choiseul
Choiseul Island
Choiseul Island, native name Lauru, is the largest island of the Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands, at .-Description:This island is named after Étienne François, duc de Choiseul....

, the Shortland Islands
Shortland Islands
The Shortland Islands are group of islands belonging to the Western Province of the Solomon Islands, at . Named by John Shortland, they lie in the extreme northwest of the country's territory, close to the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. The largest island is Shortland Island...

; the New Georgia Islands
New Georgia Islands
The New Georgia Islands are part of the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. They are located to the northwest of Guadalcanal. The larger islands are mountainous and covered in rain forest. The main islands are New Georgia, Vella Lavella, Kolombangara , Ghizo, Vangunu, Rendova and Tetepare...

; Santa Isabel
Santa Isabel Island
Santa Isabel Island is the longest in the Solomon Islands, South Pacific, and the largest in the group of islands in Isabel Province.-Location and geographic data:...

; the Russell Islands
Russell Islands
The Russell Islands are two small islands, as well as several islets, of volcanic origin, in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands. They are located approximately 48 km northwest from Guadalcanal. The islands are partially covered in coconut plantations, and have a copra and oil factory at...

; Nggela (the Florida Islands
Florida Islands
The Nggela Islands, also known as the Florida Islands, are a small island group in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands, a state in the southwest Pacific Ocean....

); Malaita
Malaita
Malaita is the largest island of the Malaita Province in the Solomon Islands. A tropical and mountainous island, Malaita's pristine river systems and tropical forests have not been exploited. Malaita is the most populous island of the Solomon Islands, with 140,000 people or more than a third of the...

; Guadalcanal; Sikaiana
Sikaiana
Sikaiana formerly called Stewart Islands is a small atoll 212 km NE of Malaita. It is almost 14 km in length and its lagoon, known as Te Moana, is totally enclosed by the coral reef. Its total land surface is only 2 km2...

; Maramasike; Ulawa; Uki
Uki
Uki can mean:*Uki Goni, writer, journalist and musician*Uki, New South Wales, an Australian town*Uki, Kumamoto, a Japanese city*Uki Island in Solomon Islands*Uki , vocalist for the band Shaka Labbits*Uki, animation character, pre-school show...

; Makira
Makira
The island of Makira is the largest island of Makira-Ulawa Province in the Solomon Islands. The island is located east of Guadalcanal and south of Malaita. The largest and capital city is Kirakira....

 (San Cristobal); Santa Ana; Rennell and Bellona
Rennell and Bellona
In 1793 Bellona Island was named after a passing British ship, the Bellona. Rennell Island may have been named for the oceanographer James Rennell, FRS . In 1799 according to a chart both islands were named Bellonas Island. In 1816 the islands were referred to as Rennell’s Isles.The names the...

; the Santa Cruz Islands
Santa Cruz Islands
The Santa Cruz Islands are a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, part of Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands. They lie approximately 250 miles to the southeast of the Solomon Islands Chain...

 and three remote, tiny outliers, Tikopia
Tikopia
Tikopia is a small and high island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Covering an area of 5 km² , the island is the remnant of an extinct volcano. Its highest point, Mt. Reani, reaches an elevation of 380 m above sea level. Lake Te Roto covers an old volcanic crater which is 80 m...

, Anuta
Anuta
Anuta is a small high island in the southeastern part of the Solomon Islands province of Temotu, the smallest permanently inhabited isolated Polynesian island.-Description:...

, and Fatutaka
Fatutaka
Fatutaka, Fatu Taka or Patu Taka is a small high island in the Solomon Islands province of Temotu. It is the easternmost landfall in that nation. The island, located at , is the remnant of an extinct volcano. It is a small rocky outcropping, rising to an elevation of . The total land area of the...

.

The country's islands lie between latitudes
5th parallel south
The 5th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 5 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America....

 and 13°S
13th parallel south
The 13th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 13 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America....

, and longitudes 155°
155th meridian east
The meridian 155° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Australasia, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 169°E
169th meridian east
The meridian 169° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. The distance between the westernmost and easternmost islands is about 1,500 kilometres (930 mi). The Santa Cruz Islands (of which Tikopia
Tikopia
Tikopia is a small and high island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Covering an area of 5 km² , the island is the remnant of an extinct volcano. Its highest point, Mt. Reani, reaches an elevation of 380 m above sea level. Lake Te Roto covers an old volcanic crater which is 80 m...

 is part), are situated north of Vanuatu
Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

 and are especially isolated at more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) from the other islands. Bougainville
Bougainville Island
Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. This region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons. The population of the province is 175,160 , which includes the adjacent island of Buka and assorted outlying islands...

 is geographically part of the Solomon Islands, but politically Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

.

The islands' ocean-equatorial climate is extremely humid throughout the year, with a mean temperature of 27 °C (80 °F) and few extremes of temperature or weather. June through August is the cooler period. Though seasons are not pronounced, the northwesterly winds of November through April bring more frequent rainfall and occasional squalls or cyclones. The annual rainfall is about 3050 mm (120 in).

The Solomon Islands archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 is part of two distinct terrestrial ecoregions. Most of the islands are part of the Solomon Islands rain forests
Solomon Islands rain forests
The Solomon Islands rain forests are a terrestrial ecoregion which includes most of the Solomon Islands and the islands of Bougainville and Buka, which are part of Papua New Guinea. The Santa Cruz Islands, which lie to the east of the Solomons, are part of the Vanuatu rain forests ecoregion,...

 ecoregion, which also includes the islands of Bougainville
Bougainville Island
Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. This region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons. The population of the province is 175,160 , which includes the adjacent island of Buka and assorted outlying islands...

 and Buka, which are part of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

, these forests have come under pressure from forestry activities. The Santa Cruz Islands
Santa Cruz Islands
The Santa Cruz Islands are a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, part of Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands. They lie approximately 250 miles to the southeast of the Solomon Islands Chain...

 are part of the Vanuatu rain forests
Vanuatu rain forests
The Vanuatu rain forests are a terrestrial ecoregion that includes the islands of Vanuatu, as well as the Santa Cruz Islands group of the neighboring Solomon Islands. It is part of the Australasia ecozone, which includes neighboring New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands, as well as Australia, New...

 ecoregion, together with the neighboring archipelago of Vanuatu
Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

. Soil quality ranges from extremely rich volcanic (there are volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

es with varying degrees of activity on some of the larger islands) to relatively infertile limestone. More than 230 varieties of orchids and other tropical flowers brighten the landscape.

The islands contain several active and dormant volcanoes. The Tinakula and Kavachi
Kavachi
Kavachi is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the south-west Pacific Ocean. Located south of Vangunu Island in the Solomon Islands, it is named after a sea god of the New Georgia Group islanders, and is also referred to locally as Rejo te Kavachi...

 volcanoes are the most active.

Economy


Its per capita GDP of $600 ranks Solomon Islands as a lesser developed nation, and more than 75% of its labor force is engaged in subsistence and fishing. Most manufactured goods and petroleum products must be imported. Until 1998, when world prices for tropical timber fell steeply, timber was Solomon Islands' main export product, and, in recent years, Solomon Islands forests were dangerously overexploited. Other important cash crops and exports include copra
Copra
Copra is the dried meat, or kernel, of the coconut. Coconut oil extracted from it has made copra an important agricultural commodity for many coconut-producing countries. It also yields coconut cake which is mainly used as feed for livestock.-Production:...

 and palm oil
Palm oil
Palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil are edible plant oils derived from the fruits of palm trees. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis; palm kernel oil is derived from the kernel of the oil palm and coconut oil is derived from the kernel of the...

. In 1998 Ross Mining of Australia began producing gold at Gold Ridge
Gold Ridge
Gold Ridge is a mine located at 9°36’S, 160°08’E, in 30 km SE of Honiara, Solomon Islands. The Gold Ridge mine was operated by Ross Mining N.L. and Delta Gold Ltd but was sold Australian Solomons Gold. Allied Gold acquired the company in 2009....

 on Guadalcanal. Minerals exploration in other areas continued. However in the wake of the ethnic violence in June 2000, exports of palm oil and gold ceased while exports of timber fell. The islands are rich in undeveloped mineral resources such as lead, zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

, nickel, and gold.

Solomon Islands' fisheries also offer prospects for export and domestic economic expansion. However, a Japanese joint venture, Solomon Taiyo Ltd., which operated the only fish cannery in the country, closed in mid-2000 as a result of the ethnic disturbances. Though the plant has reopened under local management, the export of tuna has not resumed. Negotiations are underway that may lead to the eventual reopening of the Gold Ridge mine and the major oil-palm plantation.

Tourism, particularly diving, is an important service industry for Solomon Islands. Growth in that industry is hampered, however, by lack of infrastructure and transportation limitations.

The Solomon Islands Government was insolvent by 2002. Since the RAMSI intervention in 2003, the government has recast its budget. It has consolidated and renegotiated its domestic debt and with Australian backing, is now seeking to renegotiate its foreign obligations. Principal aid donors are Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, Japan, and the Republic of China.

Recently, the Solomons courts have re-approved the export of live dolphins for profit, most recently to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This practice was originally stopped by the government in 2004 after international uproar over a shipment of 28 live dolphins to Mexico. The move has resulted in criticism from both Australia and New Zealand as well as several conservation organisations.

Energy


A team of renewable energy developers working for the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and funded by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership
The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership is a Vienna-based non-profit organisation that aims to accelerate the marketplace for renewable energy and energy efficiency with a particular emphasis on the emerging markets and developing countries.The organisation funds small-to-medium...

 (REEEP), have hatched a scheme that enables these communities to access renewable energy, such as solar, without raising substantial sums of ready cash. They also use water and wind power. If the islanders were not able to pay for solar lanterns with cash, reasoned the project developers, they can pay with crops.

Demographics


As of 2006, the majority 552,438 people on the Solomon Islands are ethnically Melanesian (94.5%). Polynesian
Polynesians
The Polynesian peoples is a grouping of various ethnic groups that speak Polynesian languages, a branch of the Oceanic languages within the Austronesian languages, and inhabit Polynesia. They number approximately 1,500,000 people...

 (3%) and Micronesian (1.2%) are the two other significant groups. There are a few thousand ethnic Chinese
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

.

The number of local languages listed for Solomon Islands is 74, of which 70 are living languages and 4 are extinct, according to «Ethnologue, Languages of the World». On the central islands, Melanesian languages
Melanesian languages
The Melanesian languages are the indigenous languages of Melanesia. They include about 400 Austronesian languages and numerous families of Papuan languages....

 (predominantly of the Southeast Solomonic group
Southeast Solomonic languages
The family of Southeast Solomonic languages is a branch of the Oceanic languages. It consists of some 26 languages covering the South East Solomon Islands, from the tip of Santa Isabel to Makira...

) are spoken. On the outliers, Rennell and Bellona
Bellona Island
Bellona Island is an island of the Rennell and Bellona Province, Solomon Islands. Its length is about 10 km and its average width 2.5 km. Its area is about 17 km². It is almost totally surrounded by 30–70 m high cliffs, consisting primarily of raised coral...

 to the south, Tikopia
Tikopia
Tikopia is a small and high island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Covering an area of 5 km² , the island is the remnant of an extinct volcano. Its highest point, Mt. Reani, reaches an elevation of 380 m above sea level. Lake Te Roto covers an old volcanic crater which is 80 m...

, Anuta
Anuta
Anuta is a small high island in the southeastern part of the Solomon Islands province of Temotu, the smallest permanently inhabited isolated Polynesian island.-Description:...

 and Fatutaka
Fatutaka
Fatutaka, Fatu Taka or Patu Taka is a small high island in the Solomon Islands province of Temotu. It is the easternmost landfall in that nation. The island, located at , is the remnant of an extinct volcano. It is a small rocky outcropping, rising to an elevation of . The total land area of the...

 to the far east, Sikaiana
Sikaiana
Sikaiana formerly called Stewart Islands is a small atoll 212 km NE of Malaita. It is almost 14 km in length and its lagoon, known as Te Moana, is totally enclosed by the coral reef. Its total land surface is only 2 km2...

 to the north east, and Luaniua to the north (Ontong Java Atoll
Ontong Java Atoll
Ontong Java Atoll or Luangiua is one of the largest atolls on earth. It is sometimes referred to as Lord Howe Atoll, not to be confused with Lord Howe Island.-Description:Administratively Ontong Java belongs to the Solomon Islands...

, also known as Lord Howe Atoll), Polynesian languages
Polynesian languages
The Polynesian languages are a language family spoken in the region known as Polynesia. They are classified as part of the Austronesian family, belonging to the Oceanic branch of that family. They fall into two branches: Tongic and Nuclear Polynesian. Polynesians share many cultural traits...

 are spoken. Immigrant populations of Gilbertese (i-Kiribati
Kiribati
Kiribati , officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 , and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the...

) and Tuvalu
Tuvalu
Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...

ans speak Micronesian languages
Micronesian languages
The family of Micronesian languages is a branch of the Oceanic languages. It consists of twenty languages, the nineteen Micronesian Proper languages and Nauruan...

. While English is the official language, only 1–2% of the population speak English; the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 is Solomons Pijin.

Health


Female life expectancy at birth was at 66.7 years and male life expectancy at birth at 64.9 in 2007. 1990–1995 fertility rate was at 5.5 births per woman. Government expenditure on health per capita was at US$ 99 (PPP). Healthy life expectancy at birth is at 60 years.

Religion


The religion of Solomon Islands is about 97% Christian with following denominations: the Anglican Church of Melanesia
Church of the Province of Melanesia
The Church of the Province of Melanesia is part of the Anglican Communion, and includes 8 dioceses. The Primate of the Church is the Archbishop of Melanesia The Most Rev'd David Vunagi.- Official name :...

 32.8%, Roman Catholic 19%, South Seas Evangelical Church
South Seas Evangelical Church
The South Seas Evangelical Church is an evangelical, Pentecostal church in the Solomon Islands. In total, 17% of the population of the Solomon Islands adheres to the church, making it the third most common religious affiliation in the country behind the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the Roman...

 17%, Seventh-day Adventist
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

 11.2%, United Church
United Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
The United Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands is a merged denomination dating from 1968 consisting of the former London Missionary Society , the relatively marginal Presbyterian church and the Methodist mission The United Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands is a...

 10.3%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.4%, other Christian 4.4%. The remaining 2.9% practice indigenous religious beliefs. According to the most recent reports, Islam in the Solomon Islands
Islam in the Solomon Islands
The United States Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report states that according to the most recent reports, there are approximately 350 Muslims in the Solomon Islands. Adherents.com estimates that there are about 70 Muslims in the country, receiving this number from a...

 is made up of approximately 350 Muslims, including members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the larger of two communities that arose from the Ahmadiyya movement founded in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian . The original movement split into two factions soon after the death of the founder...

.

Culture



In the traditional culture of the Solomon Islands, age-old customs are handed down from one generation to the next, allegedly from the ancestral spirits themselves, to form the cultural values of the Solomon Islands.

Radio is the most influential type of media in the Solomons Islands due to language differences, illiteracy, and the difficulty of receiving television signals in some parts of the country. The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation
Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation
Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation is the official radio broadcaster of the Solomon Islands. SIBC is self-defined as a public service broadcaster....

 (SIBC) operates public radio services, including the national stations Radio Happy Isles
Radio Happy Isles
Radio Happy Isles is a national radio station in the Solomon Islands, operated by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation. It broadcasts from Honiara....

and Wantok FM
Wantok FM
Wantok FM is a national radio station in the Solomon Islands, operated by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation. It broadcasts from Honiara....

, and the provincial stations Radio Happy Lagoon
Radio Happy Lagoon
Radio Happy Lagoon is a provincial radio station broadcast by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation in the Western Province. It operates from the provincial capital, Gizo, on 945 kHz in the Medium Wave Band....

and, formerly, Radio Temotu. There is one commercial station, PAOA FM, that broadcasts in the Solomons.

There is one daily newspaper Solomon Star
Solomon Star
The Solomon Star is a Solomon Islands daily, English language newspaper, launched on May 25, 1982. It is produced by the Solomon Star Company, whose publisher and director, , is John Lamani. Lamani was also one of the paper's co-founders. The newspaper's editor, , is Ofani Eremae....

 (www.solomonstarnews.com)
and one daily online news website Solomon Times Online (www.solomontimes.com), 2 weekly papers Solomons Voice and Solomon Times, and 2 monthly papers Agrikalsa Nius and the Citizen's Press. There are no TV services based in the Solomon Islands, although satellite TV stations can be received. There is free-to-air access to ABC Asia Pacific (from Australia's ABC) and BBC World News.

Solomon Islands writers include the novelists Rexford Orotaloa
Rexford Orotaloa
Rexford Orotaloa is a Solomon Islands writer best known for the novel Two Times Resurrection and the story collection Suremada: Faces from a Solomon Island Village. His work often focuses on the conflict between modern and traditional culture.-References:The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia. By...

 and John Saunana and the poet Jully Makini.

Sport



Solomon Islands national teams in football and related sports (futsal
Futsal
Futsal is a variant of association football that is played on a smaller pitch and mainly played indoors. Its name is a portmanteau of the Portuguese futebol de salão and the Spanish fútbol de salón , which can be translated as "hall football" or "indoor football"...

 and beach soccer
Beach soccer
Beach soccer, also known as beach football or beasal, is a variant of association football played on a beach or some form of sand. The game emphasises skill, agility and shooting at goal....

) have proved among the most successful in Oceania.

The Solomon Islands national football team
Solomon Islands national football team
The Solomon Islands national football team is the national team of the Solomon Islands and is controlled by Solomon Islands Football Federation. The team shocked the football world in the 2004 Oceania Nations Cup , tying Australia 2–2 to nip heavily-favored New Zealand for second place and a spot...

 became the first team to beat New Zealand into qualifying for a play-off spot against Australia for qualification to the World Cup 2006. They were defeated 7–0 in Australia and 2–1 at home.

On 14 June 2008, the Solomon Islands national futsal team
Solomon Islands national futsal team
The Solomon Islands national futsal team, nicknamed Kurukuru, represents the Solomon Islands in international futsal competitions. It is one of the strongest teams in Oceania, but fares poorly in competitions outside the region....

, the Kurukuru, won the Oceania Futsal Championship in Fiji to qualify them for the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup
2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup
The 2008 edition of the FIFA Futsal World Cup was held in Brazil from September 30 to October 19. It was the sixth World Championship held under the aegis of football's world governing body. The venues were Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasília and Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro. The...

, which was held in Brazil from 30 September to 19 October 2008. Solomon Islands is the futsal defending champions in the Oceania region. In 2008 and 2009 the Kurukuru won the Oceania Futsal Championship in Fiji. In 2009 they defeated the host nation Fiji, 8–0, to claim the title. The Kurukuru currently hold the world record for the fastest ever goal scored in an official futsal match. It was set by Kurukuru captain Elliot Ragomo, who scored against New Caledonia
New Caledonia national futsal team
The New Caledonia national futsal team is the representative team for New Caledonia in international futsal competitions. It is controlled by the Fédération Calédonienne de Football....

 three seconds into the game in July 2009. They also, however, hold the less enviable record for the worst defeat in the history of the Futsal World Cup, when in 2008 they were beaten by Russia with two goals to thirty-one.

The Solomon Islands' beach soccer team
Solomon Islands national beach soccer team
The Solomon Islands national beach soccer team represents Solomon Islands in international beach soccer competitions and is controlled by S.I.F.F, the governing body for football in Solomon Islands....

, the Bilikiki Boys, are statistically the most successful team in Oceania. They have won all three regional championships to date, thereby qualifying on each occasion for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup is a bi-annual international beach soccer competition contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA, the sport's global governing body. The tournament has taken place every year since its establishment in 1995, when it was originally supervised...

. The Bilikiki Boys are ranked fourteenth in the world as of 2010, higher than any other team from Oceania.

In January 2011, the Bilikiki Boys played the Kurukuru in a friendly beach soccer match. The Bilikiki won 4–1. Previously, the two teams had met for a friendly futsal match, which the Kurukuru had won 5–3.

The Solomon Islands national rugby union team
Solomon Islands national rugby union team
The Solomon Islands national rugby union team represent Solomon Islands in the sport of rugby union.They played their first international at 18 August 1969, losing to Papua New Guinea by 23-5. Their next game, three days later, with Fiji show their record loss of 113-13. Both games were part of the...

 has been playing internationals since 1969. It took part in the Oceania qualifying tournament for the 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups, but failed to qualify on each occasion.

Education


Education in the Solomon Islands is not compulsory and only 60 per cent of school-age children have access to primary education.

From 1990 to 1994, the gross primary school enrolment rose from 84.5 percent to 96.6 percent. Primary school attendance rates were unavailable for the Solomon Islands as of 2001. While enrolment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school. Efforts and plans made by the Department of Education and Human Resource Development to expand educational facilities and increase enrolment have been hindered by a lack of government funding, misguided teacher training programs, poor coordination of programs, and a failure of the government to pay teachers. The percentage of the government's budget allocated to education was 9.7 percent in 1998, down from 13.2 percent in 1990.

Male educational attainment tends to be higher than female educational attainment. The University of the South Pacific has a Campus in Solomon Islands while the University of Papua New Guinea has also established a foothold in the country at Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is a tropical island in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568...

.

See also


  • Lau Lagoon
    Lau Lagoon
    Lau Lagoon is a part of Solomon Islands. It is located on the northeast coast of Malaita Island. The lagoon is more than 35 kilometers long and contains 60 artificial islands....

  • LGBT rights in the Solomon Islands
    LGBT rights in the Solomon Islands
    Lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender rights in the Solomon Islands are limited, with same-sex sexual activity being illegal.According to the Penal Code of the Solomon Islands, Chapter 26, Section 160, engaging in anal sex acts with another person is punishable with up to 14 years' imprisonment....

  • States headed by Elizabeth II
    States headed by Elizabeth II
    The number of states headed by Queen Elizabeth II has varied during her years on the throne, altogether seeing her as head of state of a total of thirty-two independent countries during this period...



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