OFFICIAL NAME: Solomon Islands
CAPITAL: Honiara
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 27,556 Sq Km (10,639 Sq Mi)

Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & 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 (1991).

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 islanders.

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 relations.

CURRENCY: The official currency is the Dollar (SID) divided into 100 Cents.

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.

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