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Solomon Islands :: Australia-Oceania

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. 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

Map references:

Oceania

Area:

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: NA
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:

0 sq km NA (2012)

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

Population:

635,027 (July 2016 est.)

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.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 35.13% (male 114,871/female 108,229)
15-24 years: 20.01% (male 65,349/female 61,702)
25-54 years: 36.12% (male 116,795/female 112,564)
55-64 years: 4.55% (male 14,565/female 14,302)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 12,701/female 13,949) (2016 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: 22.2 years
male: 22 years
female: 22.4 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.98% (2016 est.)

Birth rate:

25.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate:

3.8 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate:

-1.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 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: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2016 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:

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

Infant mortality rate:

total: 15.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 17.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 75.3 years
male: 72.7 years
female: 78.1 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.22 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate:

34.6% (2006/07)

Health expenditures:

5.1% of GDP (2014)

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:

25% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:

11.5% (2007)

Education expenditures:

10% of GDP (2010)

Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.1%
male: 88.9%
female: 79.2% (2009 est.)

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
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 (National Parliament) 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)

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; new constitution drafted in 2014 (2016)

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; Customary Land Appeal Court; local courts

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

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Collin David BECK (since 31 March 2004)
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:

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

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 closure 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):

$1.198 billion (2016 est.)
$1.163 billion (2015 est.)
$1.127 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$1.218 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3% (2016 est.)
3.3% (2015 est.)
2% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$2,000 (2016 est.)
$2,000 (2015 est.)
$2,000 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving:

18.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
17.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
14.9% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin:

agriculture: 52.8%
industry: 8%
services: 39.2% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products:

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

Industries:

fish (tuna), mining, timber

Industrial production growth rate:

3.2% (2016 est.)

Labor force:

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: $421.6 million
expenditures: $458.8 million (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:

34.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):

-3.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.4% (2016 est.) -0.6% (2015 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

10.1% (31 December 2016 est.)
10.48% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$445.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$405.7 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money:

$459.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$427.4 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$98.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$84.69 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Current account balance:

-$54 million (2016 est.)
-$30 million (2015 est.)

Exports:

$419.9 million (2015 est.)
$419.9 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities:

timber, fish, copra, palm oil, cocoa

Exports - partners:

China 61.7%, India 5.9%, Italy 5.9% (2015)

Imports:

$425.7 million (2015 est.)
$425.7 million (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities:

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

Imports - partners:

Australia 24.7%, China 18.4%, Malaysia 6.3%, Singapore 5.8%, Fiji 4.7%, NZ 4.6%, Papua New Guinea 4.6% (2015)

Debt - external:

$491.5 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$187.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$545.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$522.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$50.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$50.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates:

Solomon Islands dollars (SBD) per US dollar -
8.064 (2016 est.)
7.9147 (2015 est.)
7.9147 (2014 est.)
7.3754 (2013 est.)
7.36 (2012 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production:

85 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption:

79.05 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity:

37,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels:

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels:

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources:

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports:

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports:

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production:

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption:

1,600 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports:

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports:

1,554 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:

300,000 Mt (2013 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines:

total subscriptions: 7,438
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

total: 425,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 68 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system:

domestic: mobile-cellular telephone density is about 65 per 100 persons
international: country code - 677; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2015)

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 availabl (2009)

Internet country code:

.sb

Internet users:

total: 62,000
percent of population: 10% (July 2015 est.)

Transportation

National air transport system:

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 3
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 373,738
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 3,691,584 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix:

H4 (2016)

Airports:

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:

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

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)