Fast Facts

Population:
472,000
Capital:
Honiara; 56,000
Area:
28,370 square kilometers (10,954 square miles)
Language:
Melanesian pidgin, 120 indigenous languages, English
Religion:
Protestant, Roman Catholic, indigenous beliefs
Currency:
Solomon Islands dollar
Life Expectancy:
71
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $1,700
Literacy Percent:
62
Flag: Solomon Islands
Map: Solomon Islands

Northeast of Australia in the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands chain consists of six main islands that are volcanic, mountainous, and forested—Guadalcanal is the most populous island. A strategic battleground during World War II, the islands gained independence from Britain in 1978. About 85 percent of the islanders are Melanesians, who speak some 92 indigenous languages. Ethnic tension between natives of Guadalcanal and settlers from nearby Malaita island escalated into armed conflict from 1998 until 2003, when an Australian-led peacekeeping force restored order.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Fish (tuna), mining, timber
  • Agriculture: Cacao, coconuts, palm kernels, rice; cattle; timber; fish
  • Exports: Timber, fish, copra, palm oil

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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