The second largest
Islands chain in the South-Pacific region, the Solomon
Islands has a population of 382,962 (1995 est.) spread across an area of
29,000 sq. km. The county is located between 5 - 12 degrees south
latitude and 150° - 170° East longitude, with an estimate sea area of
1.3 million sq. km in the exclusive economic zone. The
capital, Honiara is situated on
Guadalcanal, a name known to the world over as the site for some of the
bloodiest battles of World War II. On this island is also the
highest mountain, Mount Makarakombu, at 2447m (8028ft). The main islands of
Choiseul, Isabel, Guadalcanal, Malatia, Makira
and New Georgia make up most of the land mass. Hundreds of
smaller islands and atolls are scattered throughout the group.
Volcanoes with varying degrees of activity are situated on some of the
larger islands, while many of the smaller islands are simply tiny atolls
covered in sand and palm trees.
Melanesians make up about 94 per cent of the population, and there is a
small minority of Polynesians.
English is the official language, although pidgin English is more widely
spoken. With their quaint "Pidgin English" as the "linqua Franca", these
gentle, friendly people will always greet you with a shy smile and open
arms. More than 80 tribal languages are also used.
More than 70 per cent of the population is Christian, with Church of
Melanesians (Anglicans), Roman Catholics, and South Sea Evangelicals
The Solomon Islands were named by the Spanish
navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neyra
who visited them in 1568. The northernmost islands of the group were explored in
1768 by Louis Antoine de Bougainville, after whom the island of
Bougainville is named. Germany established control over the northern
Solomons in 1885, but in 1900 transferred these islands—except
Bougainville and Buka—to the British, who had declared a protectorate
over the central and southern Solomons in 1893. In 1914, at the start of
World War I, Australia occupied the remaining German Solomons, and in
1919 the League of Nations granted the
area to Australia as a mandate.
During the Second World War the
Solomon's became the key turning point in the desperate and bitter
struggle by allied forces to repel the Japanese advancement in the South
Pacific. Most of the fighting was concentrated in the Guadalcanal area
with one of the most fierce encounters in naval history taking place on
13th November, 1942. The "Battle of Guadalcanal"
cost the Japanese over 11 ships with many more boats and aircraft
plummeting into the blue waters of Guadalcanal in the days surrounding
this battle.In 1975 the Australian-administered Solomons became
independent as part of Papua New Guinea. The British Solomons gained
full independence as the Solomon Islands in 1978.
The most popular tourist destinations
are in the Solomons' Western Province. Places such as Munda, on the
island of New Georgia, and Uepi Island in Marovo Lagoon, together with
the small island/town of Gizo (the provincial capital) have become
famous for their magnificent diving, the many WWII wrecks (above and
below water), their dramatic ancestral skull sites and other adventure
excursions by sea or land. Other fascinating and rarely visited
destinations in the Solomons include the islands of Malaita and Rennell.
The Solomon Islands, hidden away in a quite pocket of the pacific Basin,
have retained the age old magic of the South Seas. The Solomons stretch
for some 1500 kilometres in a north west south east direction, between 5
and 12 degrees south of the equator.
The climate is tropical, with
average daytime temperatures of 26 - 33 degrees Celsius, down to 22 - 30
degrees Celsius at night. The south east trade winds blow from April to
October. This time of the year is characterised by fine, dry weather.
November to March is the "wet" season - the north west monsoon. These
months are warmer, more humid and experience the occasional tropical
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