Solomon Islands

Country Facts

 

The Solomon Islands is situated in the south-west Pacific Ocean, approximately 3,763 kilometers to the northwest of New Zealand. It has a landmass of 29,000 sq kilometers spread over nearly 1000 islands comprising 9 main island groups. The terrain consist of rugged mountains, volcanoes, rainforests and low coral atolls. The climate is trop​ical with average daytime temperatures around 27 degrees and high humidity, monsoonal wet season occurs between November and March.​

The country’s total population of about 587,000 is predominantly Melanesians (93 per cent) although there are other minority ethnic groups including Polynesians, Micronesians, Chinese, and Europeans. There are about 120 vernaculars, while Solomon Islands pidgin is the lingua franca for a majority of the population, English is the the official language.​

Natural resources:

Fish, forests, palm products (oil and kernels) as well as cocoa, gold, bauxite, phosphates, lead, zinc, nickel.​

Form of Government:​

Solomon Islands is a ‘sovereign democratic state’ with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State, a Governor-General represents the Queen. The Solomons achieved self-government in 1976, and independence from the UK in 1978,​ framers of the Constitution took the Westminster model of responsible government as the basis for government in Solomon Islands. There is a unicameral national Parliament that comprises 50 members elected for a four-year term under a first-past-the-post voting system. The Prime Minister is elected by a simple majority of members of Parliament. Political Party structures are fluid, with extensive coalition-building usually required to form government. In addition to the national Government there are nine provincial assemblies, each led by a Premier. The capital, Honiara, is located on Guadalcanal, the largest island

History:

The Solomon Islands are believed to have been inhabited by Melanesian people for thousands of years. The first European to visit the islands was the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendana in 1568. After Mendana, others – mainly Dutch and French explorers – made forays into the group, followed by the Germans and British. During the Second World War, there was fierce fighting between the Americans and the Japanese in the Solomon Islands campaign of 1942–45, including the Battle of Guadalcanal. In 1998, ethnic violence and crime undermined stability and society. In June 2003, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI)​, restored peace and improved civil governance. ​​

Religion:

About 95% of the population is Christian.

The principal Churches are:

  • Church of Melanesia (Anglican) 29%
  • Roman Catholic 19%
  • United Church (Methodist) 11%
  • South Seas Evangelical Church 17%
  • Seventh Day Adventist 10%

More recently: Baha’i Faith, Jehovah’s Witness, Assembly of God and the Baptist Church.

Economy:

The bulk of the population depends on agriculture, fishing, and forestry for at least part of its livelihood. Most manufactured goods and petroleum products are imported.

  • Industry: Fish (tuna), mining, timber.
  • Agriculture: Cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, rice, cattle, timber, fish.
  • Exports: Timber, fish, copra, palm oil.

Trade Partners (Imports): Australia, Singapore, China, New Zealand, Malaysia.

Currency: Solomon Islands dollar (SBD).

Culture & tradition:

The culture of the Solomon Islands reflects the extent of the differentiation and diversity among the groups living within the Solomon Islands archipelago. Although Melanesian societies dominate the islands there are also Polynesian and Micronesian societies. Age-old customs are handed down from one generation to the next, by ancestral practices, to form the cultural values to Solomon Islands.

In the rural areas of the country, tribal customs are the most important social norms. Traditional bartering systems are still used between many of the village areas. Even the village life is relatively similar to that of the time of pre-European arrival. Items are made from local leaves and grasses, and traditional music is still heard. In addition, the ancient form of the Solomon Islands dance can also be found.

A major aspect of Solomon Islands culture is Wantok. This refers to people of the same language or family group. It is a communal support system, existing within family and clan associations.