Photos of Solomon Islands

Introduction

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 and the Guadalcanal Campaign (August 1942-February 1943) proved a turning point in the Pacific War, since after the operation the Japanese lost their strategic initiative and remained on the defensive until thier final defeat in 1945. Self-government for the Solomon Islands came 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), which ended in June 2017, was generally effective in restoring law and order and rebuilding government institutions.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

8 00 S, 159 00 E

Area

total: 28,896 sq km

land: 27,986 sq km

water: 910 sq km

country comparison to the world: 143

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

5,313 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm

measured from claimed archipelagic baselines

Climate

tropical monsoon; few temperature and weather extremes

Terrain

mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls

Elevation

highest point: Mount Popomanaseu 2,335 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

Natural resources

fish, forests, gold, bauxite, phosphates, lead, zinc, nickel

Land use

agricultural land: 3.9% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.9% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0.3% (2018 est.)

forest: 78.9% (2018 est.)

other: 17.2% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km NA (2012)

Total renewable water resources

44.7 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

most of the population lives along the coastal regions; about one in five live in urban areas, and of these some two-thirds reside in Honiara, the largest town and chief port

Natural hazards

tropical cyclones, but rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earthquakes, tremors, and volcanic activity; tsunamis

volcanism: Tinakula (851 m) has frequent eruption activity, while an eruption of Savo (485 m) could affect the capital Honiara on nearby Guadalcanal

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban

Geography - note

strategic location on sea routes between the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea, and the Coral Sea

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Solomon Islander(s)

adjective: Solomon Islander

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%, unspecified 0.1% (2009 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 32.99% (male 116,397/female 109,604)

15-24 years: 19.82% (male 69,914/female 65,874)

25-54 years: 37.64% (male 131,201/female 126,681)

55-64 years: 5.04% (male 17,844/female 16,704)

65 years and over: 4.51% (male 14,461/female 16,417) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 77.6

youth dependency ratio: 71.1

elderly dependency ratio: 6.5

potential support ratio: 15.3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 23.5 years

male: 23.2 years

female: 23.7 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 176

Birth rate

23.07 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 52

Death rate

3.97 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 214

Net migration rate

-1.57 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 159

Population distribution

most of the population lives along the coastal regions; about one in five live in urban areas, and of these some two-thirds reside in Honiara, the largest town and chief port

Urbanization

urban population: 25.1% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 3.57% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

82,000 HONIARA (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female

total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

22.6 years (2015 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality rate

104 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 69

Infant mortality rate

total: 20.52 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 24.49 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 16.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.45 years

male: 73.78 years

female: 79.25 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 103

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 95% of population

rural: 67.1% of population

total: 73.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 5% of population

rural: 32.9% of population

total: 26.4% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.19 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

1.4 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 95.6% of population

rural: 22% of population

total: 39.1% of population

unimproved: urban: 4.4% of population

rural: 78% of population

total: 60.9% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: malaria

Environment

Environment - current issues

deforestation; soil erosion; many of the surrounding coral reefs are dead or dying; effects of climate change and rising sea levels

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 10.67 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.17 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 0.43 megatons (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

44.7 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Climate

tropical monsoon; few temperature and weather extremes

Land use

agricultural land: 3.9% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.9% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0.3% (2018 est.)

forest: 78.9% (2018 est.)

other: 17.2% (2018 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

forest revenues: 20.27% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 1

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 167

Urbanization

urban population: 25.1% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 3.57% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: malaria

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 179,972 tons (2013 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Solomon Islands

local long form: none

local short form: Solomon Islands

former: British Solomon Islands

etymology: Spanish explorer Alvaro de MENDANA named the isles in 1568 after the wealthy biblical King SOLOMON in the mistaken belief that the islands contained great riches

Government type

parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

Capital

name: Honiara

geographic coordinates: 9 26 S, 159 57 E

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

etymology: the name derives from "nagho ni ara," which in one of the Guadalcanal languages roughly translates as "facing the eastern wind"

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

history: adopted 31 May 1978, effective 7 July 1978; note - in late 2017, provincial leaders agreed to adopt a new federal constitution, with passage expected in 2018, but it has been postponed indefinitely

amendments: proposed by the National Parliament; passage of constitutional sections, including those on fundamental rights and freedoms, the legal system, Parliament, alteration of the constitution and the ombudsman, requires three-fourths majority vote by Parliament and assent of the governor general; passage of other amendments requires two-thirds majority vote and assent of the governor general; amended several times, last in 2018; note - a new constitution was drafted in mid-2009 and the latest version drafted in 2013

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of the Solomon Islands

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years

Suffrage

21 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General David VUNAGI (since 8 July 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Rick HOU (since 16 November 2017)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the advice of the National Parliament for up to 5 years (eligible for a second term); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually elected prime minister by the National Parliament; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister from among members of the National Parliament

election results: Manasseh SOGAVARE (independent) defeated in no-confidence vote on 6 November 2017; Rick HOU elected prime minister on 15 November 2017

Legislative branch

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

elections: last held on 3 April 2019 (next to be held in 2023)

election results: percent of vote by party - UDP 10.7%, DAP 7.8%, PAP 4.4%, other 20.8%, independent 56.3%; seats by party - DAP 7, UDP 5, PAP 3, KPSI 1, SIPFP 1, SIPRA 1, independent 32; composition - men 49, women 1, percent of women 2%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Court of Appeal (consists of the court president and ex officio members including 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)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal and High Court president, chief justices, and puisne judges appointed by the governor general upon recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, chaired by the chief justice and includes 5 members, mostly judicial officials and legal professionals; all judges serve until retirement at age 60

subordinate courts: Magistrates' Courts; Customary Land Appeal Court; local courts

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Alliance Party or DAP [Steve ABANA]
Kadere Party of Solomon Islands or KPSI [Peter BOYERS]
People's Alliance Party or PAP [Nathaniel WAENA]
Solomon Islands People First Party or SIPFP [Dr. Jimmie RODGERS]
Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement or SIPRA [Manasseh MAELANGA]
United Democratic Party or UDP [Sir Thomas Ko CHAN]

note: in general, Solomon Islands politics is characterized by fluid coalitions

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

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Janice MOSE

chancery: 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400L, New York, NY 10017

telephone: [1] (212) 599-6192, 6193

FAX: [1] (212) 661-8925

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: the US does not have an embassy in the Solomon Islands; the US Ambassador to Papua New Guinea is accredited to the Solomon Islands

Flag description

divided diagonally by a thin yellow stripe from the lower hoist-side corner; the upper triangle (hoist side) is blue with five white five-pointed stars arranged in an X pattern; the lower triangle is green; blue represents the ocean, green the land, and yellow sunshine; the five stars stand for the five main island groups of the Solomon Islands

National symbol(s)

national colors: blue, yellow, green, white

National anthem

name: God Save Our Solomon Islands

lyrics/music: Panapasa BALEKANA and Matila BALEKANA/Panapasa BALEKANA

note: adopted 1978

Economy

Economic overview

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 closure of key businesses, and an empty government treasury culminated in economic collapse. RAMSI's efforts, which concluded in Jun 2017, to restore law and order and economic stability have led to modest growth as the economy rebuilds.

Real GDP growth rate

3.5% (2017 est.)

3.5% (2016 est.)

2.5% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 86

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: B3 (2015)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.783 billion (2019 est.)

$1.762 billion (2018 est.)

$1.695 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 201

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.298 billion (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$2,663 (2019 est.)

$2,700 (2018 est.)

$2,666 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 202

Gross national saving

13.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

15.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

14.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 155

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 34.3% (2017 est.)

industry: 7.6% (2017 est.)

services: 58.1% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: NA

government consumption: NA

investment in fixed capital: NA

investment in inventories: NA

exports of goods and services: 25.8% (2011 est.)

imports of goods and services: -49.6% (2011 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 55.3 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 85.6 (2020)

Trading score: 53.4 (2020)

Enforcement score: 43.5 (2020)

Agricultural products

oil palm fruit, sweet potatoes, coconuts, taro, yams, fruit, pulses nes, vegetables, cocoa, cassava

Industries

fish (tuna), mining, timber

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 75%

industry: 5%

services: 20% (2000 est.)

Budget

revenues: 532.5 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 570.5 million (2017 est.)

Public debt

9.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

7.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 198

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$54 million (2017 est.)

-$49 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Exports

$468.6 million (2017 est.)

$419.9 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 176

Exports - partners

China 65%, Italy 9%, India 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

lumber, fish, aluminum, palm oil, cocoa beans (2019)

Imports

$462.1 million (2017 est.)

$419.3 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 200

Imports - partners

China 24%, Australia 13%, South Korea 12%, Singapore 12%, Malaysia 10% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, fish, insulated wiring, broadcasting equipment, excavation machinery (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$0 (31 December 2017 est.)

$421 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 194

Debt - external

$757 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$643 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172

Exchange rates

Solomon Islands dollars (SBD) per US dollar -

8.06126 (2020 est.)

8.10373 (2019 est.)

8.01282 (2018 est.)

7.9147 (2014 est.)

7.3754 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 66.7% (2018)

electrification - urban areas: 76.7% (2018)

electrification - rural areas: 63.5% (2018)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 7,130

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1.06 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 198

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 480,124

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 71.38 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 173

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Internet penetration has reached 20%; 3G and 4G LTE mobile network expansions, investment in mobile services in the region; otherwise 3G and satellite services for communication and Internet access; increase in broadband subscriptions; the launch of the Kacific-1 satellite in 2019 and the Coral Sea Cable System have vastly improved the telecom sector (2020)

domestic: fixed-line is 1 per 100 persons and mobile-cellular telephone density is about 71 per 100 persons; domestic cable system to extend to key major islands (2019)

international: country code - 677; landing points for the CSCS and ICNS2 submarine cables providing connectivity from Solomon Islands, to PNG, Vanuatu and Australia; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) does not broadcast television; multi-channel pay-TV is available; SIBC operates 2 national radio stations and 2 provincial stations; there are 2 local commercial radio stations; Radio Australia is available via satellite feed (since 2009) (2019)

Internet users

total: 78,686

percent of population: 11.92% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 181

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1,488

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 192

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 427,806 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 3.84 million mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1 (2019)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 35 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 10 (2013)

under 914 m: 24 (2013)

Heliports

3 (2013)

Roadways

total: 1,390 km (2011)

paved: 34 km (2011)

unpaved: 1,356 km (2011)

note: includes 920 km of private plantation roads

country comparison to the world: 175

Merchant marine

total: 24

by type: general cargo 8, oil tanker 1, other 15 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 145

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Honiara, Malloco Bay, Viru Harbor, Tulagi

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Royal Solomon Islands Police Force

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

since 2003, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, consisting of police, military, and civilian advisors drawn from 15 countries, has assisted in reestablishing and maintaining civil and political order while reinforcing regional stability and security

Trafficking in persons

current situation: the Solomon Islands is a source and destination country for local adults and children and Southeast Asian men and women subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution; women from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are recruited for legitimate work and upon arrival are forced into prostitution; men from Indonesia and Malaysia recruited to work in the Solomon Islands’ mining and logging industries may be subjected to forced labor; local children are forced into prostitution near foreign logging camps, on fishing vessels, at hotels, and entertainment venues; some local children are also sold by their parents for marriage to foreign workers or put up for "informal adoption" to pay off debts and then find themselves forced into domestic servitude or forced prostitution

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – the Solomon Islands does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, the Solomon Islands was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; the government gazetted implementing regulations for the 2012 immigration act prohibiting transnational trafficking, but the penalties are not sufficiently stringent because they allow the option of paying a fine; a new draft law to address these weaknesses awaits parliamentary review; no new trafficking investigations were conducted, even after labor inspections at logging and fishing companies, no existing cases led to prosecutions or convictions, and no funding was allocated for national anti-trafficking efforts; authorities did not identify or protect any victims and lack any procedures or shelters to do so; civil society and religious organizations provide most of the limited services available; a lack of understanding of the crime of trafficking remains a serious challenge (2015)