Nation at a Glance - 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 this archipelago. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. Ethnic violence, government malfeasance, endemic crime, and a narrow economic base have undermined stability and civil society. In June 2003, then Prime Minister Sir Allan 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. The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has generally been effective in restoring law and order and rebuilding government institutions.

Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea

Border Countries: 0 km

Total Area: 28,896 sq km Land: 27,986 sq km Water: 910 sq km

Climate: Tropical monsoon; few temperature and weather extremes

Terrain: Mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls

Natural resources: Fish, forests, gold, bauxite, phosphates, lead, zinc, nickel

Land use: Agricultural land: 3.9% arable land 0.7%; permanent crops 2.9%; permanent pasture 0.3% Forest: 78.9% Other: 17.2% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Melanesian 95.3%, Polynesian 3.1%, Micronesian 1.2%, Other 0.3% (2009 est.)

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

Religions: Protestant 73.4% (Church of Melanesia 31.9%, South Sea Evangelical 17.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 11.7%, United Church 10.1%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.5%), Roman Catholic 19.6%, other Christian 2.9%, Other 4%, None 0.03%, Unspecified 0.1% (2009 est.)

Population: 635,027 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 84.1%; Male: 88.9%; Female: 79.2% (2009 est.)

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces and 1 city*; Central, Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Honiara*, Isabel, Makira and Ulawa, Malaita, Rennell and Bellona, Temotu, Western

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 must be imported. The islands are rich in undeveloped mineral resources such as lead, zinc, nickel, and gold. Prior to the arrival of The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), severe ethnic violence, the closure of key businesses, and an empty government treasury culminated in economic collapse. RAMSI's efforts to restore law and order and economic stability have led to modest growth as the economy rebuilds.

Agriculture - products: Cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, rice, fruit; cattle, pigs; fish; timber

Industries: Fish (tuna), mining, timber

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