Shark on the reef at Uepi, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands, 1,000 Pieces of Paradise - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 1st December 2017

A Brief History of Solomon Islands

  • The area that is now Solomon Islands has been settled since for over 30,000 years, latterly by the Lapita peoples.
  • For some reason, when Spaniard, Álvaro de Mendaña y Neira 'discovered' these islands, he thought he had found the legendary King Solomons' Mines - hence the name.
  • From the 1840s, 'blackbirding' took place. Islanders were 'recruited' ( kidnapped) as labourers for the colonies in Australia, Fiji and Samoa. Unsurprisingly Europeans from then on got a hostile reception.
  • The southern archipelago was declared a British protectorate in June 1893. After negotiation with the Germans and ceding them Samoa (which the British later 'retrieved'), Germany handed the Northern Solomons to Britain, in 1900, minus Buka and Bougainville islands. The latter became part of German New Guinea, despite geographically belonging to the Solomons archipelago.
  • During the second World War, Guadalcanal was the site of a major Allied offensive against the Japanese, who were constructing an air base on the island. Warships and smaller boats were sunk around the island.
  • Independence for the Solomon Islands was achieved in 1978. The country then dropped the definite article from its name.

Facts and Factoids

  • Solomon Islands is about 992 islands and islets with six major islands: Choisuel, Guadacanal, Malaita, Makira, New Georgia and Santa Isabel. (Surely it makes a thousand if you look hard enough?) The main island is Guadalcanal (of World War II battle fame), where the capital, Honiara, is found.
  • There's even an island named after John Kennedy who was marooned here during World War II.
  • English is the official language, a colonial legacy, but 98% of the population don't use it and speak pidgin instead.
  • The economy is based on farming, logging, and fishing. Coconuts, sweet potatoes, taro, yams, palm oil, cocoa and fruit are grown. They raise pigs, cattle, and chickens.
  • Solomon Islands has no army, but there is still ongoing internal conflict between different local tribes.

What to See in Solomon Islands?

  • Thanks to its off-beat location, much of the Solomon Islands’ marine life is still in pristine condition. (East Rennell Island here is the largest raised coral atoll in the world.) There's also plenty of wreck diving following the Battle of Guadalcanal.
  • Most of the islands are covered in dense rainforest which offers a great habitat for unusual plants, animals (there are giant rats) and birds. This, and the view from the air, are the main reasons to visit Solomon Islands.
  • I love the Solomon Islands - it's on my favourites list. I've been to:

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