Solomon Islands – a state in the southwestern Pacific

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean (Melanesia), east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of a double chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls (about 1,000 islands). Honiara, located on the northern coast of the island of Guadalcanal, is the capital and largest city of the Solomon Islands.

After World War II the state was a British protectorate and gained independence in 1978. Today, the state is a constitutional monarchy headed by a British monarch represented by a governor-general serving as the formal head of state. However, the Commonwealth country is independent, and the Governor General is appointed on the recommendation of the unicameral National Parliament.

The population of Solomon Islands is about 610,000 people, most of whom live in small rural villages. They are mostly engaged in farming, pig farming and fishing. The vast majority of the population is ethnically Melanesian. Polynesians, who are a minority, usually live on remote atolls. There are a small number of Chinese and Europeans, as well as Gilbertians from Micronesia, who were relocated to the Guizo and Wagena Islands between 1955 and 1971 by British administrators seeking to reduce overcrowding on the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati).

Almost all Solomon Islanders are Christian; most are Protestant, with smaller numbers of Catholics and other denominations. The population speaks more than 80 languages and dialects (another source says 100). English is the official language, however, it is spoken by a very small percentage of the population, the most common being Melanesian pidgin (Solomon pidgin).

By the way, the name of the islands was coined by Spanish explorer Alvaro Mendaña de Neira who discovered the islands in 1568. According to legend, the navigator was able to barter a lot of gold from the locals, which is why he decided to compare the land to Ophir, the country which, according to the Bible, held the jewels and treasures intended for King Solomon.

Alvaro Mendaña de Neira

The country’s economy

Civil unrest in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to a near collapse of the country’s economy. As a result, much damage was done to the infrastructure on Guadalcanal Island, resulting in disruption of transportation, trade, and many businesses were forced to shut down their operations. In addition, the 2007 earthquake and tsunami exacerbated the situation.

Tourism is developing, but is not the main source of income. Solomon Islands’ main resources are fish and timber, which have been overexploited, resulting in their current depletion. Other exports are from plantation crops: palm oil, copra, and cocoa. China and Australia are the main recipients of exports. The main imports are machinery, fuel, manufactured goods, and food, which are imported mainly from Australia, Singapore, and China. The country also has minerals that are not currently being developed primarily because of a lack of funds.

The issue of climate change

Solomon Islands as an island country is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. The Government has an action plan to adapt to the challenges of climate change, which includes efforts to improve water resource management, measures to improve crop sustainability and food security, and efforts to relocate communities away from low-lying coastal areas. However, there are studies that show that about five small islands have gone completely under water in the past 20 years.

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Civil War and International Relief

In 1998, a civil war erupted in the Solomon Islands based on ethnic conflict. The complexity of centralized governance due to geography (fragmentation due to the islands) and the lack of awareness of political community among the population made its presence felt. The action unfolded mainly on Guadalcanal Island, where there were aggressive clashes between the Malaitan and local populations. During the ongoing civil unrest, Ulufaalu, an ethnic Malay, was overthrown in a coup d’état in June 2000. Later that year, New Zealand and Australian troops arrived to resolve the situation, after which a peace agreement was signed.

Then the process of rebuilding the badly damaged country began, and sporadic clashes continued. Tensions soon led to the collapse of the country’s government, which was unable to provide for public safety.

Allan Kemakeza became prime minister in December 2001 after a general election. As economic, political and civil instability continued to plague the Solomon Islands, in mid-2003 Kemakeza turned to the Pacific Island Forum countries for help. In response, they formed the Multinational Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), led by Australia. RAMSI deployed troops in July to help maintain order.

Reconstruction was slow, but was supported by an influx of foreign aid, especially from Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and the European Union. After the 2006 general elections, anti-government riots broke out; the new Prime Minister Snyder Rini resigned after eight days in office and was replaced by Sogaware Manasse, who opposed the presence of RAMSI. A conflict arose between RAMSI and the government over one of the prime minister’s political appointments, and Sogaware threatened to expel the multinational forces. Eventually a compromise was reached and RAMSI stayed. The mission ceased military operations in July 2013, but left personnel in place to continue assisting in police operations. And the mission officially and completely ended in June 2017.

Representatives of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands today.

One of the last political decisions made by the Solomon Islands government that made many countries around the world take notice was the establishment of diplomatic relations with the PRC, along with the severing of long-standing diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Since it happened during 2019, it is too early to talk about significant results of this reorientation. Time will tell how successful the connection with Beijing will be and whether this decision will bring negative consequences, for example, in the form of sanctions from the U.S.

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Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands – a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean in Melanesia, covering the greater part of the Solomon Islands archipelago and other island groups. It consists of 992 islands, the total area of which is 28,450 square kilometers (28,400 square kilometers of land).

Contents

History

The first Papuan-speaking settlers came to the Solomon Islands around 30,000 BC. The Austronesian-speaking settlers came around 4,000 BC. They brought with them cultural elements such as outrigger canoes. Between about 1200 and 800 BC, the ancestors of the Polynesians (Lapita people) from the Bismarck archipelago came to the islands, knowledgeable in pottery. [1]

The Solomon Islands were discovered in 1568 by the Spanish navigator A. Mendaña de Neira, who traded gold from the locals and named the islands Solomon Islands, comparing them to “Solomon’s Golden Country” .

For the next two centuries, the islands were not visited by Europeans. The islands were rediscovered by Englishman F. Carteret in 1767.

Since the middle of 1840s Catholic and Protestant missionaries tried to settle in the Solomon Islands many times, but for a long time they failed: many of them were killed by the natives.

It was not until the 1860s that Europeans began to settle on the Solomon Islands, when the first white traders began to settle there. The natives tried to kill these traders, but they, unlike the missionaries, were able to organize their defense.

In 1893 Britain declared its protectorate over the Solomon Islands. Since 1907, British entrepreneurs began to establish coconut palm plantations in the Solomon Islands. Since the beginning of the 20th century, missionaries reappeared on the islands, converting the natives to Christianity.

During World War II, part of the islands were occupied by the Japanese. From 1942 to 1945 there were bloody battles between the Japanese and the anti-Hitler coalition countries (UK, USA, Australia, and New Zealand), which ended in victory for the latter.

In July 1978, Solomon Islands gained independence from Great Britain. The first Prime Minister was Peter Kenilorea.

Since 1998, tribal tensions, which reached the level of armed conflicts, sharply increased in the Solomon Islands. In June 2003, Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza asked Australia to restore law and order in the country. The following month, military and police forces from Australia, New Zealand and several Oceania countries (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, etc.) arrived in the Solomon Islands – the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), about 2200 police and military in total. They restored order and disarmed tribal fighters.

No diplomatic relations with Russia (not established).

Geography

The state occupies the greater part of the homonymous archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, in Melanesia, east of the island of New Guinea. The largest islands are Guadalcanal, Santa Isabel, Malaita, San Cristobal, Choiseul, New Georgia. Also occupies the island groups of Duff, Santa Cruz, Swallow and Bellona, Rennell, etc.

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The islands are predominantly volcanic; active volcanoes. The highest point of the country is Popomanaseu Peak on Guadalcanal, 2335 meters high [2] . The climate is subequatorial and very humid. Average monthly temperatures range from 26 to 28°C. Rainfall ranges from 2,300 to 7,500 mm per year. From May to October, a south-eastern trade wind dominates, and from December to March, a north-western equatorial monsoon. Short high-water rivers. Most part of islands are covered with evergreen woods (palms, ficuses, etc.), savannas in driest places, and mangroves on shores. Fauna: rats, bats, crocodiles, lizards, snakes, giant frogs; birds – wild pigeons, parrots, etc.

Seismology

The Solomon Islands are located in a seismically dangerous region with frequent earthquakes. The last one with the magnitude 6.9 was recorded on April 23, 2011. In January 2010, there was an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2, which triggered tsunami with maximum wave height of 2.5 meters. A total of about a thousand people were left homeless.

Administrative division of the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands are divided into 9 provinces, with the capital city Honiara, located on Guadalcanal Island, as a separate administrative unit, the Capital Territory.

Population

Population – 0.61 million (July 2010 estimate).

Annual population growth – 2.3%.

Fertility – 26.9 per 1,000 (fertility – 3.4 births per woman).

Mortality – 3.7 per 1,000.

Life expectancy: 71 years for men and 76 years for women.

Ethnicity: Melanesians 94.5%, Polynesians 3%, Micronesians 1.2%, and others 1.3% (1999 census).

Languages: English (official), spoken by 1-2% of the population; one of the varieties of Melanesian pidgin, Solomon Islands pidgin (Neo-Solomonik, Solomon pidgin), which is in fact a Creole language, is used as a common language. There are a total of 120 local languages in the country.

Religions: Melanesian Church 32.8%, Catholics 19%, South Seas Evangelicals 17%, Seventh-day Adventists 11.2%, United Church 10.3%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.4%, other Christians 4.4%, and others 2.4% (from the 1999 census) [3].

There is no data on the literacy rate of the Solomon Islands population.

The urban population is 18%.

Politics

The Solomon Islands political system is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of government. Queen Elizabeth II is the monarch of the Solomon Islands and Head of State. Her authority is exercised through the Governor General, who is elected by Parliament for a term of five years.

The Parliament is unicameral, consisting of 50 representatives, elected every four years. According to the results of the last elections (August 2010), the parliament had 19 independent members and representatives of 12 political parties (the largest party – 13 deputies, the rest – from 3 to 1 deputy). Parliament can be dissolved early by a majority vote of its members.

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Any citizen over the age of 21 has the right to participate in elections [4]. The head of the government is the Prime Minister, he is elected by Parliament and appoints other ministers. The Cabinet of Ministers consists of 20 people. Each ministry is headed by a minister, who is assisted by a permanent secretary who directs the ministry’s employees.

Solomon Islands political parties are weak and parliamentary coalitions are extremely unstable. There are frequent no-confidence motions against the government and, as a result, the composition of the government changes frequently. Cabinet changes are also common.

There are no military units as such in the Solomon Islands, although the police, consisting of about 500 people, include a border guard unit. The police serve as firefighters, assist in emergencies, and conduct maritime patrols. The police are led by a commissioner appointed by the governor general. The commissioner is under the control of the prime minister.

    2006, the inauguration ceremony for the new government was held, led by Snyder Rini. The new government is designed to strengthen the fight against corruption, which was the cause of the recent riots that burned several neighborhoods in the capital (primarily Chinatown) to the ground. On the same day, a mass evacuation of ethnic Chinese from the country began, of which there had been about 2,000. It was they who had become the main target of the indigenous population’s discontent. Snyder Rini, who had previously served as Deputy Prime Minister, had close business contacts with the Chinese community and was largely dependent on it.

International Relations

Relations with Papua New Guinea, which had become strained because of the influx of refugees from Bougainville Island following the rebellion and attacks on the state’s northern islands by rebel persecutors, were restored. A peace agreement on Bougainville was reached in 1998, border issues were resolved between Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands in an agreement signed in 2004.

Economy

The economy of the country is based on agriculture, fishing, and logging.

Three-quarters of all workers work in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry. The industrial sector (fish processing, timber) employs 5%, while the service sector employs 20%.

Per capita GDP (2009) is $2,500 (177th place in the world).

Cacao, coconuts, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruits are cultivated. Cattle are bred.

The country has large deposits of lead, zinc, nickel, and gold, as well as bauxite and phosphate, but they are not developed.

Foreign trade

Exports – $0.24 billion in 2008 – timber, fish, copra, palm oil, cocoa.

Major buyers (in 2009) – China 54.1%, South Korea 6.2%, the Philippines 6%, Spain 4.9%.

Imports – $0.26 billion in 2008 – food, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals.

Main suppliers (in 2009) – Singapore 24.7%, Australia 23.1%, New Zealand 5.2%, Fiji 4.5%, Papua New Guinea 4.3%, Malaysia 4%.

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Culture

The Solomon Islands have preserved their former cultural image to a large extent.

Traditional type houses prevail in the villages: light, rectangular huts on poles with wicker walls and gable roofs of palm leaves. However, in large settlements there are many buildings of European type.

In clothing, European elements have significantly supplanted tradition, but some locals continue to wear loincloths and short skirts.

In the spiritual culture of the islanders tradition is also closely intertwined with modernity. Folklore, original songs and dances, arts and crafts are relatively well preserved among the local population, but modern culture is also introduced.

Religion

About 97% of the population of the Solomon Islands practice the Christian faith. The largest Christian denominations are: 32.8% of the population is Melanesian Anglican, 19% are Roman Catholic, 17% are South Seas Evangelical, 11.2% are Seventh Day Adventists, and 10.3% are Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands United Church. 2.9% of the population practices indigenous religious beliefs. There are approximately 350 Muslims [5] .

Sports

The Solomon Islands national soccer team made history when it became the first team to beat New Zealand and reach the play-off for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. However, in their first playoff match, they were defeated by Australia 7-0.

On 14 June 2008 the Solomon Islands National Futsal Team triumphed at the Fiji Oceania Futsal Championship and qualified to play in the Futsal World Cup 2008 held in Brazil, from 30 September to 19 October 2008. The Solomon Islands beach soccer team is considered the best team in Oceania and has participated in the last three World Cups.

Notes

  1. ↑ Kirch, Patrick Vinton (2002). On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands. Berkley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23461-8.
  2. ↑ Mount Popomanaseu, Solomon Islands. Peakbagger.com. Archived from the source on June 23, 2012.Verified 6 May 2012.
  3. ↑ Centre for Intercultural Learning, Foreign Affairs Canada Country Insights: Solomon Islands. Archived from the source on August 24, 2011.Verified on 5 April 2011.
  4. ↑ CIA – The World Factbook – Solomon Islands.
  5. ↑ International Religious Freedom Report 2007.

Synopsis of

  • Solomon Islands, The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron: In 86 volumes (82 vols. and 4 addenda). – SPb. , 1890-1907.

References

Coat of Arms – Flag – Hymn – State System – Constitution – Parliament – Administrative Division – Geography – Cities – Capital – Population – Languages – History – Economy – Currency – Culture – Religion – Cinema – Literature – Music – Celebrations – Sport – Education – Science – Transport – Tourism – Postal (history and stamps) – Internet – Armed Forces – Foreign Policy Solomon Islands Portal

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