Background

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

Geography

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

Area: total: 28,896 sq km, land: 27,986 sq km

Coastline: 5,313 km

Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines, territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical monsoon; few temperature and weather extremes

Terrain: mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls

Elevation, highest point: Mount Popomanaseu 2,310 m

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.)

Natural hazards: typhoons, but rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earthquakes, tremors, and volcanic activity; tsunamis. Volcanism: Tinakula (elev. 851 m) has frequent eruption activity, while an eruption of Savo (elev. 485 m) could affect the capital Honiara on nearby Guadalcanal

Environment – international agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling. Note: strategic location on sea routes between the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea, and the Coral Sea; on 2 April 2007 an undersea earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale occurred 345 km WNW of the capital Honiara; the resulting tsunami devastated coastal areas of Western and Choiseul provinces with dozens of deaths and thousands dislocated; the provincial capital of Gizo was especially hard hit

People and Society

Nationality: Solomon Islander(s)

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: 622,469 (July 2015 est.)

Urbanization: urban population: 22.3% of total population (2015), rate of urbanization: 4.25% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.) Major urban areas – population: HONIARA (capital) 73,000 (2014)

Physicians density: 0.22 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density: 1.3 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source – improved: urban 93.2% of population, rural 77.2% of population; unimproved: urban 6.8% of population, rural 22.8% of population

Sanitation facility access – improved: urban 81.4% of population, rural 15% of population; unimproved: urban 18.6% of population, rural 85% of population

Government

Country name: Solomon Islands

Government type: parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm

Capital: Honiara

Time difference: UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

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

Independence: 7 July 1978 (from the UK)

National holiday: Independence Day, 7 July (1978)

Constitution: adopted 31 May 1978, effective 7 July 1978; new constitution drafted in 2014 (2016)

Legal system: mixed legal system of English common law and customary law

Executive branch – Chief of State Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Frank KABUI (since 7 July 2009)

Head of government: Prime Minister Manasseh SOGAVARE (since 9 December 2014). Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister

Legislative branch: unicameral National Parliament (50 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)

Judicial branch: Court of Appeal (consists of the court president, and ex officio members to include the High Court chief justice and its puisne judges); High Court (consists of the chief justice and puisne judges as prescribed by the National Parliament)

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Alliance Party or DAP [Steve ABANA], Kadere Party of Solomon Islands or KPSI [Alfred LEGUA], People’s Alliance Party or PAP [Nathaniel WAENA], Solomon Islands People First Party or SIPFP [Jimmie RODGERS], Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement or SIPRA [Manasseh MAELANGA], United Democratic Party [Thomas Ko CHAN]

International organization participation: ACP, ADB, AOSIS, C, EITI (candidate country), ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, MIGA, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WTO

National anthem: “God Save Our Solomon Islands”

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 closing 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: cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, rice, fruit; cattle, pigs; fish; timber

Industries: fish (tuna), mining, timber

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.1% (2015 est.) 5.2% (2014 est.)

Exports – commodities: timber, fish, copra, palm oil, cocoa

Imports – commodities: food, plant and equipment, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals

Currency: Solomon Islands dollars (SBD)

Energy Electricity 240V Australian and New Zealand plug-in type

Communications Telephone system: domestic mobile-cellular telephone density is about 50 per 100 persons international country code – 677; satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2011)

Broadcast media: Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) is the sole TV broadcaster with 1 station; multi-channel pay-TV is available; SIBC operates 2 national radio stations and 2 provincial stations; 2 local commercial radio stations; Radio Australia is available via satellite feed (2009). Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (2004)

Internet country code: .sb

Internet users: percent of population: 7.6% (2014 est.)

Transportation – Airports: 36 (2013), but only one with paved runways. Heliports: 3 (2013)

Roadways: total: 1,390 km, paved: 34 km, unpaved: 1,356 km

Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Honiara, Malloco Bay, Viru Harbor, Tulaghi

Military and Securityno regular military forces; Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (2013)