OFFICIAL NAME: Solomon Islands
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 27,556 Sq Km (10,639 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 429,100
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: The Solomon Islands is an archipelago
of several hundred islands in the South West Pacific Ocean.
The Solomon Islands comprise the six main islands of Choiseul,
Guadalcanal, Malaita, New Georgia, San Cristobal and Santa
Isabel. Most of the islands are of volcanic origin and have
rain forest covered mountain ranges intersected by narrow
valleys with coastal belts fringed by coral reefs. Most
of the smaller islands are raised coral or low atolls. Major
Cities (pop. est.); Honiara 30,500 (1986). Land Use; forested
88%, pastures 1%, agricultural-cultivated 2%, other 9% (1993).
CLIMATE: The Solomon Islands has a tropical climate characterized
by high humidity and uniform hot temperatures which are tempered by sea
breezes. There are no true changes of season although there are seasons
of greater or lesser rainfall with the greater between November and March
and the lesser between April and November. Average annual precipitation
is 3,050 mm (120 inches) and the average temperature in Honiara is 27 degrees
Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) all year.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Melanesians who
account for 94% of the population. The remainder consists of Polynesians
who account for 4% of the population, Micronesians for 1.5%, Chinese for
.3%, Europeans for .8% and others for .4%.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 12 persons per sq km (30
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 15.7% urban, 84.3% rural (1986).
Sex Distribution; 51.7% male, 48.3% female (1991). Life Expectancy at Birth;
69.0 years male, 73.0 years female (1993). Age Breakdown; 46% under 15,
27% 15 to 29, 15% 30 to 44, 8% 45 to 59, 4% 60 and over (1991). Birth Rate;
37.0 per 1,000 (1993). Death Rate; 4.0 per 1,000 (1993). Increase Rate;
33.0 per 1,000 (1993). Infant Mortality Rate; 39.0 per 1,000 live births
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with over 96% of the population
belonging to the Anglican, Roman Catholic or Methodist Churches.
LANGUAGES: The official language is English, although Pidgin
English and over 60 Melanesian languages or dialects are spoken by various
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
44.4%, primary 46.2%, secondary 6.8%, higher 2.6% (1986). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 55,500 or 54.1% (1976).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1976 the Solomon Islands were
granted internal self-government by Britain and on July 7, 1978 gained
full independence within the Commonwealth. Peter Kenilorea was elected
Prime Minister under a coalition government and was re-elected in 1980.
In Aug. 1981 Kenilorea's coalition government collapsed and Solomon Mamaloni
was elected Prime Minister. In Nov. 1984 Kenilorea was again re-elected
Prime Minister. In May 1986 Cyclone Namu caused widespread property damage
and in late 1986 Kenilorea was forced to resign after a scandal over the
misappropriation of cyclone aid. Prime Minister Kenilorea was replaced
by Ezekiel Alebua who was defeated in Feb. 1989 by Mamaloni of the People's
Alliance Party (PAP). In Oct. 1990 Mamaloni was forced to resign as leader
of the PAP over allegations that the government was attempting to raise
a loan for $250 million from Italy. Further scandal developed when he was
forced to take five opposition members into his cabinet so he could retain
control of the government. During 1991 there was a two month strike by
some 4,000 public servants in protest to the high salaries paid to department
heads that led to economic difficulties. Also in 1991 US President George
Bush announced a US $5 million grant for the construction of a new parliament
building as a memorial to US servicemen who died in WWII. In 1992 relations
with Papua New Guinea (PNG) deteriorated over Bougainville, which is considered
by Solomon Islanders as being part of the Solomon Islands, following the
breach of an Papuan imposed blockade of the island. In response PNG troops
made incursions into the Solomon Islands' territory attacking civilians
and destroying fuel depots. In July 1992 the Solomon Islands were host
to the South Pacific Forum and in Oct. 1992 the UN announced an inquiry
into the incidents with PNG. Also in 1992 the government announced new
payroll and wholesale taxes while the central bank imposed controls on
the use of foreign funds to service the government's escalating debt. In
May 1993 Francis Billy Hilly won general elections and succeeded Solomon
Mamaloni as Prime Minister of a seven party coalition government called
the National Coalition Partners. Also in 1993 relations with PNG over Bouganville
remained strained despite agreements entered into by both nations to normalize
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Dollar (SID) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $260,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $95,000,000 (1993). Imports; SID $437,023,000 (1994). Exports;
SID $491,664,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $6,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; SID $33,520,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 39,210
or 13.7% of total population (1986). Unemployed; N/A.
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Japan, the
UK, the Netherlands and the USA.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bauxite, Coconuts, Fish, Gold, Livestock,
Palm Kernels, Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Taro, Timber.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Boats, Clothing, Fishing, Food Processing,
Forestry, Handicrafts, Milling, Palm Oil, Saw Milling.
MAIN EXPORTS: Cocoa, Copra, Fish, Palm Oil, Timber.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 2,100 km (1,305 mi)
(1987). Vehicles; cars 1,350 (1986), trucks and buses 2,026 (1986). Merchant
Marine; vessels 35 (1990), deadweight tonnage 6,018 (1990). Air Transport;
passenger-km 11,027,000 (6,852,000 passenger-mi) (1984), cargo ton-km 37,000
(25,341 short ton-mi) (1984).
COMMUNICATIONS: Weekly Newspapers; total of 3 with a total circulation
of 10,000 (1988). Radio; receivers 38,000 (1995). Television; nil. Telephones;
units 5,300 (1993).
MILITARY: 475 (1990) police personnel.