Solomon Islands

Flag of Solomon Islands

Map of Solomon Islands


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. Ethnic violence, government malfeasance, and endemic crime have undermined stability and civil society. In June 2003, Prime Minister Sir Allen KEMAKEZA sought the assistance of Australia in reestablishing law and order; the following month, an Australian-led multinational force arrived to restore peace and disarm ethnic militias.


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
water: 910 sq km
land: 27,540 sq km

Maritime claims:

measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
continental shelf: 200 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm


tropical monsoon; few extremes of temperature and weather


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: 0.64%
permanent crops: 2%
other: 97.36% (2001)

Natural hazards:

typhoons, but rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earth tremors; volcanic activity

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; many of the surrounding coral reefs are dead or dying

Geography - note:

strategic location on sea routes between the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea, and the Coral Sea


523,617 (July 2004 est.)

Ethnic groups:

Melanesian 93%, Polynesian 4%, Micronesian 1.5%, European 0.8%, Chinese 0.3%, other 0.4%


Anglican 45%, Roman Catholic 18%, United (Methodist/Presbyterian) 12%, Baptist 9%, Seventh-Day Adventist 7%, other Protestant 5%, indigenous beliefs 4%


Melanesian pidgin in much of the country is lingua franca; English is official but spoken by only 1%-2% of the population
note: 120 indigenous languages

Government type:

parliamentary democracy tending toward anarchy



Administrative divisions:

9 provinces and 1 capital territory*; Central, Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Honiara*, Isabel, Makira, Malaita, Rennell and Bellona, Temotu, Western


7 July 1978 (from UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 7 July (1978)


7 July 1978

Legal system:

English common law, which is widely disregarded

Government - note:

June 2003 Prime Minister Sir Allen KEMAKEZA sought the intervention of Australia to aid in restoring order; parliament approved the request for intervention in July 2003; troops from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga arrived 24 July 2003

Economy - overview:

The bulk of the population depends on agriculture, fishing, and forestry for at least part of their livelihood. Most manufactured goods and petroleum products must be imported. The islands are rich in undeveloped mineral resources such as lead, zinc, nickel, and gold. However, severe ethnic violence, the closing of key business enterprises, and an empty government treasury have led to serious economic disarray, indeed near collapse. Tanker deliveries of crucial fuel supplies (including those for electrical generation) have become sporadic due to the government's inability to pay and attacks against ships. Telecommunications are threatened by the nonpayment of bills and by the lack of technical and maintenance staff many of whom have left the country. The disintegration of law and order left the economy in tatters by mid-2003, and on 24 July 2003 more than 2000 Australian soldiers entered the Solomon Islands to restore order and to facilitate the restoration of basic services.

Labor force:

26,840 (1999)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 75%, industry 5%, services 20% (2000 est.)

Agriculture - products:

cocoa beans, coconuts, palm kernels, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs; timber; fish


fish (tuna), mining, timber

Exports - commodities:

timber, fish, copra, palm oil, cocoa

Exports - partners:

China 25.4%, South Korea 15.3%, Japan 13.6%, Philippines 10.2%, Singapore 5.9%, Thailand 5.9% (2003 est.)

Imports - commodities:

food, plant and equipment, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals

Imports - partners:

Australia 30.4%, Singapore 22.4%, Fiji 4.8%, New Zealand 4.8%, Papua New Guinea 4% (2003 est.)


Solomon Islands dollar (SBD)

Telephones - main lines in use:

6,600 (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1,000 (2002)

Telephone system:

general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code - 677; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Ports and harbors:

Aola Bay, Honiara, Lofung, Noro, Viru Harbor, Yandina


33 (2003 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 31
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 21 (2003 est.)