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Geography of the Solomon Islands

Learn Information about the Island Nation of the Solomon Islands

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Solomon Islands Flag

The Solomon Islands flag is divided diagonally by a thin yellow stripe from the lower hoist-side corner; the upper triangle (hoist side) is blue with five white five-pointed stars arranged in an X pattern; the lower triangle is green.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated August 07, 2011

Population: 571,890 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Honiara
Area: 11,157 square miles (28,896 sq km)
Coastline: 3,301 miles (5,313 km)
Highest Point: Mount Popomanaseu at 7,578 feet (2,310 m)

The Solomon Islands are an island nation located in Oceania to the east of Papua New Guinea. It consists of almost one thousand different small islands and has a total land area of 11,157 square miles (28,896 sq km) that are spread over 280,000 square miles (725,197 sq km) of the Pacific Ocean.

History of the Solomon Islands

Archaeological evidence shows that hunter-gatherer populations lived on the larger islands within what is today's Solomon Islands around 1,000 B.C.E. The first European to discover the islands was the Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana Y Neyra in 1567. Two hundred years later in 1767 Philip Carteret, a British mariner landed on the islands. Shortly his arrival many other Europeans began visiting the islands.

In the mid-1800's missionaries landed on the Solomon Islands, however they were unsuccessful in their efforts because of a labor trade and the violent recruitment of the laborers led to severe problems on the islands (U.S. Department of State). As a result in 1893 the United Kingdom declared the southern Solomon Islands a protectorate. In 1898 and 1899 more islands were added to the protectorate and more missionaries arrived on the islands and succeeded in popularizing Christianity on the islands.

In the early 20th century Australia joined the British in establishing large coconut farms on the Solomon Islands. The farms did not help the islands' economy however and with the start of World War II, most of the planters fled to Australia and coconut farming ended on the islands. From May 1942 to December 1943 the Solomon Islands were subjected to heavy fighting with the Battle of the Coral Sea during WWII. With the end of the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1943 the Allies took control of the Solomon Islands and they saw an influx of Americans on the islands.

With the end of WWII, the British regained control of the Solomon Islands and the capital was moved to Honiara. Shortly after, a group of Solomon natives began the Marching Rule and the islands were unstable until 1948. Several other small uprisings occurred throughout the 1950s but stability was restored by the 1960s. In 1974 a new constitution was adopted that established a parliamentary democracy and in 1975 the name of the islands was changed from British Solomon Islands Protectorate to Solomon Islands (U.S. Department of State). Shortly thereafter on January 2, 1976 the islands became self governing and on July 7, 1978 they gained full independence.

Government of the Solomon Islands

Today the Solomon Islands are a parliamentary democracy and a commonwealth realm. As such Queen Elizabeth II is the chief of state, but there is also a head of government (the country's prime minister) making up the executive branch of government. The Solomon Islands' legislative branch consists of a unicameral National Parliament while its judicial branch is made up of a Court of Appeal. The Solomon Islands are divided nine provinces and one capital territory for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands have a growing economy that is mainly dependent on agriculture and fishing. There is limited manufacturing on the islands and most consumer goods are imported from other nations. The main industries on the Solomon Islands are fishing (mainly tuna), mining and timber (CIA World Factbook). The major agricultural products are cocoa beans, coconuts, palm kernels, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruit and timber as well as cattle, pigs and fish (CIA World Factbook).

Geography and Climate of the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands are an archipelago about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) northeast of Australia and east of Papua New Guinea (map). The topography of the islands varies by island but the majority of the islands are rugged mountains, some of which are volcanic in origin and today have rainforests. Other islands within the Solomon Islands are low-lying coral atolls and raised coral reefs (U.S. Department of State).

The climate of the Solomon Islands is considered tropical monsoon and as such it is warm and humid throughout much of the year. The average yearly temperature for the islands is 80˚F (27˚C) and November through April are the island's wettest months.

To learn more about the Solomon Islands, visit the Geography and Maps section on the Solomon Islands on this website.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (8 July 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Solomon Islands. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bp.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Solomon Islands: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107975.html

United States Department of State. (4 May 2011). Solomon Islands. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2799.htm

Wikipedia.org. (15 July 2011). Solomon Islands - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_Islands

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