Solomon Islands Travel Information

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Facts About the Solomon Islands

Background: The UK established a protectorate over the Solomon Islands in the 1890s. Some of the bitterest fighting of World War II occurred on these islands. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. Current issues include government deficits, deforestation, and malaria control.
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Honiara
Currency: 1 Solomon Islands dollar (SI$) = 100 cents

Geography of the Solomon Islands

Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 S, 159 00 E
total: 28,450 sq km
land: 27,540 sq km
water: 910 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 5,313 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
continental shelf: 200 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: tropical monsoon; few extremes of temperature and weather
Terrain: mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Makarakomburu 2,447 m
Natural resources: fish, forests, gold, bauxite, phosphates, lead, zinc, nickel
Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 1%
forests and woodland: 88%
other: 9% (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: typhoons, but they are rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earth tremors; volcanic activity
Environment - current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; much of the surrounding coral reefs are dead or dying
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

People of the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islanders comprise diverse cultures, languages, and customs. Of its 427,000 persons, 93.3% are Melanesian, 4% Polynesian, and 1.5% Micronesian. In addition, small numbers of Europeans and Chinese are registered. About 70 vernaculars are spoken.

Most people reside in small, widely dispersed settlements along the coasts. Sixty percent live in localities with fewer than 200 persons, and only 11% reside in urban areas.

The capital city of Honiara, situated on Guadalcanal, the largest island, has over 35,000 inhabitants. The other principal towns are Gizo, Auki, and Kirakira.

Most Solomon Islanders are Christian, with the Anglican, Roman Catholic, South Seas Evangelical, and Seventh-day Adventist faiths predominating. About 5% of the population maintain traditional beliefs.

The chief characteristics of the traditional Melanesian social structure are:

  • The practice of subsistence economy;
  • The recognition of bonds of kinship, with important obligations extending beyond the immediate family group;
  • Generally egalitarian relationships, emphasizing acquired rather than inherited status; and
  • A strong attachment of the people to the land.

Most Solomon Islanders maintain this traditional social structure and find their roots in village life.

Population: 538,032 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 44% (male 105,024; female 101,065)
15-64 years: 53% (male 124,627; female 121,358)
65 years and over: 3% (male 6,935; female 7,185) 
Population growth rate: 3.04% 
Birth rate: 34.79 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 4.35 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 25.26 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.28 years
male: 68.86 years
female: 73.81 years 
Total fertility rate: 4.8 children born/woman 
noun: Solomon Islander(s)
adjective: Solomon Islander
Ethnic groups: Melanesian 93%, Polynesian 4%, Micronesian 1.5%, European 0.8%, Chinese 0.3%, other 0.4%
Religions: Anglican 34%, Roman Catholic 19%, Baptist 17%, United (Methodist/Presbyterian) 11%, Seventh-Day Adventist 10%, other Protestant 5%, indigenous beliefs 4%
Languages: Melanesian pidgin in much of the country is lingua franca, English spoken by 1%-2% of population
note: 120 indigenous languages

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Solomon Islands > Map Economy History