Solomon Islands

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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

Geographic coordinates

8.00° S, 159.00° E

Area 144/257

total: 28,896 sq km

land: 27,986 sq km

water: 910 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries

0 km

Coastline

5,313 km

Maritime claims

measured from claimed archipelagic baselines

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm

Climate

tropical monsoon; few temperature and weather extremes

Terrain

mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

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.)

Irrigated land

NA

Total renewable water resources

44.7 cu km (2011)

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 - current issues

deforestation; soil erosion; many of the surrounding coral reefs are dead or dying

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - 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

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%, none 0.03%, unspecified 0.1% (2009 est.)

Population 169/238

622,469 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 35.68% (male 114,349/female 107,750)

15-24 years: 20.01% (male 64,036/female 60,512)

25-54 years: 35.73% (male 113,306/female 109,133)

55-64 years: 4.45% (male 13,863/female 13,820)

65 years and over: 4.13% (male 12,315/female 13,385) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 75.1%

youth dependency ratio: 69.1%

elderly dependency ratio: 5.9%

potential support ratio: 16.8% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 21.9 years

male: 21.7 years

female: 22.1 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 49/233

2.02% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 47/224

25.77 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 210/225

3.85 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 162/222

-1.75 migrant(s)/1,000 population (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)

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 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female

total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

21.6

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2006/07 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 77/184

114 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 102/224

total: 15.65 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 17.84 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 106/224

total population: 75.12 years

male: 72.49 years

female: 77.88 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 47/224

3.28 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

34.6% (2006/07)

Health expenditures 59/191

5.1% of GDP (2013)

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

total: 80.8% of population

unimproved:

urban: 6.8% of population

rural: 22.8% of population

total: 19.2% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 81.4% of population

rural: 15% of population

total: 29.8% of population

unimproved:

urban: 18.6% of population

rural: 85% of population

total: 70.2% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 27/191

25% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 65/138

11.5% (2007)

Education expenditures 18/173

9.9% of GDP (2010)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years

male: 10 years

female: 9 years (2007)

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

Government type

parliamentary democracy and 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)

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; amended several times, last in 2010 (2015)

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 Frank KABUI (since 7 July 2009)

head of government: Prime Minister Manasseh SOGAVARE (since 9 December 2014)

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) elected prime minister; National Parliament vote - 31 to 19

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 19 November 2014 (next to be held in 2018)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independents 32, DAP 7, UDP 5, PAP 3, KPSI 1, SIPFP 1, SIPRA 1

Judicial branch

highest court(s): 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)

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 to include 5 members, mostly judicial officials and legal professionals; all judges appointed until retirement at age 60

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

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]

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

Political pressure groups and leaders

Isatabu Freedom Movement or IFM

Malaita Eagle Force or MEF

note: these rival armed ethnic factions crippled the Solomon Islands in a wave of violence from 1999 to 2003

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

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

Economy - 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 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.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 203/230

$1.141 billion (2015 est.)

$1.105 billion (2014 est.)

$1.088 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.205 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 90/225

3.3% (2015 est.)

1.5% (2014 est.)

3% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 204/230

$2,000 (2015 est.)

$1,900 (2014 est.)

$1,900 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 162/179

6.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

6.6% of GDP (2014 est.)

10.8% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 51.2%

industry: 10.2%

services: 38.7% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

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

Industries

fish (tuna), mining, timber

Industrial production growth rate 45/202

4.3% (2015 est.)

Labor force 170/233

202,500 (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 75%

industry: 5%

services: 20% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate

NA%

Population below poverty line

NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Budget

revenues: $415.5 million

expenditures: $440.7 million (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 65/219

34.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 76/220

-2.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 114/226

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

Commercial bank prime lending rate 76/184

10.9% (31 December 2015 est.)

10.91% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 170/192

$348.4 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$360.5 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 184/193

$452.1 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$467.9 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 186/191

$48.89 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$45.12 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Current account balance 75/197

-$135 million (2015 est.)

-$57 million (2014 est.)

Exports 173/224

$493.1 million (2012 est.)

$448.1 million (2013 est.)

Exports - commodities

timber, fish, copra, palm oil, cocoa

Exports - partners

China 62.9%, Italy 5.8%, Australia 5.4% (2014)

Imports 194/223

$446 million (2012 est.)

$464.5 million (2013 est.)

Imports - commodities

food, plant and equipment, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals

Imports - partners

Australia 26%, Singapore 16.4%, China 10.3%, Malaysia 5.8%, NZ 5.1%, Indonesia 4.2%, Fiji 4.2%, Papua New Guinea 4.1% (2014)

Debt - external 180/206

$491.5 million (31 December 2013 est.)

$228.1 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 112/120

$850.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$799 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 99/105

$47.3 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$47.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

Solomon Islands dollars (SBD) per US dollar -

7.94 (2015 est.)

7.38 (2014 est.)

7.38 (2013 est.)

7.36 (2012 est.)

7.64 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 203/220

85 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 203/219

79.05 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 112/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 125/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 195/214

36,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 6/214

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 58/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 163/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 161/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 113/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 103/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 165/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 111/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 161/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 194/212

1,500 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 160/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 189/213

1,491 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 163/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 122/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 69/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 168/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 117/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 193/212

266,000 Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 201/219

total subscriptions: 7,500

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 174/217

total: 376,700

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 62 (2014 est.)

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 hosts 148/232

4,370 (2012)

Internet users 187/217

total: 46,400

percent of population: 7.6% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 109/236

36 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

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

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 35

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 10

under 914 m: 24 (2013)

Heliports

3 (2013)

Roadways 179/223

total: 1,390 km

paved: 34 km

unpaved: 1,356 km

note: includes 920 km of private plantation roads (2011)

Ports and terminals

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

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular military forces; Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (2013)

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