Solomon Islands

[Country flag of Solomon Islands]

Solomon Islands

[Country map of Solomon Islands]

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: 28,450 sq km
land: 27,540 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
continental shelf: 200 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical monsoon; few extremes of temperature and weather

Terrain: mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls

Elevation extremes:
lowest point : Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Makarakomburu 2,447 m

Natural resources: fish, forests, gold, bauxite, phosphates, lead, zinc, nickel

Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 1%
forests and woodland: 88%
other : 9% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: typhoons, but they are rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earth tremors; volcanic activity

Environment - current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; much of the surrounding coral reefs are dead or dying

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling
signed, but not ratified : Law of the Sea

People

Population: 426,855 (July 1997 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 45% (male 98,797; female 95,162)
15-64 years : 52% (male 111,702; female 108,505)
65 years and over: 3% (male 6,345; female 6,344) (July 1997 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.3% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 37.3 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 4.31 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth : 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years : 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 24.9 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.45 years
male: 68.96 years
female: 74.07 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.27 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Solomon Islander(s)
adjective: Solomon Islander

Ethnic groups: Melanesian 93%, Polynesian 4%, Micronesian 1.5%, European 0.8%, Chinese 0.3%, other 0.4%

Religions: Anglican 34%, Roman Catholic 19%, Baptist 17%, United (Methodist/Presbyterian) 11%, Seventh-Day Adventist 10%, other Protestant 5%, traditional beliefs 4%

Languages: Melanesian pidgin in much of the country is lingua franca, English spoken by 1%-2% of population
note: 120 indigenous languages

Literacy: NA

Government

Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Solomon Islands
former: British Solomon Islands

Data code: BP

Government type: parliamentary democracy

National capital: Honiara

Administrative divisions: 7 provinces and 1 town*; Central, Guadalcanal, Honiara*, Isabel, Makira, Malaita, Temotu, Western
note: there may be two new provinces of Choiseul (Lauru) and Rennell/Bellona and the administrative unit of Honiara may have been abolished

Independence: 7 July 1978 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day, 7 July (1978)

Constitution: 7 July 1978

Legal system: common law

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II of the UK (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Moses PITAKAKA (since 10 June 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Solomon MAMALONI (since 7 November 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Francis SAEMALA (since NA February 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister from among the members of Parliament
elections : none; the queen is a hereditary monarch; governor general appointed by the queen on the advice of Parliament for up to five years; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of a majority coalition is usually elected prime minister by Parliament; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister from among the members of Parliament

Legislative branch: unicameral National Parliament (47 seats; members elected from single member constituencies by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 26 May 1993 (next to be held 6 August 1997)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - GNUR 21, PAP 7, NAPSI 5, SILP 4, UP 4, independents 6

Judicial branch: High Court

Political parties and leaders: National Unity and Reconciliation Group (GNUR), Solomon MAMALONI; People's Alliance Party (PAP); National Action Party (NAPSI), leader NA; Solomon Islands Labor Party (SILP), leader NA; United Party (UP), leader NA; Nationalist Front for Progress (NFP), Andrew NORI; Labor Party (LP), Joses TUHANUKU; Christian Fellowship, leader NA

International organization participation: ACP, AsDB, C, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ITU, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen Rex HOROI (represents the country as both the Permanent Representative to the UN and the ambassador to the US)
chancery: Permanent Mission of the Solomon Islands to the UN, 820 Second Avenue, Suite 800, New York, NY 10017
telephone : [1] (212) 599-6193
FAX: [1] (212) 661-8925

Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Solomon Islands (embassy closed July 1993); the 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

Economy

Economy - overview: The bulk of the population depend on subsistence agriculture, fishing, and forestry for at least part of their 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. The Government of the Solomon Islands is nearing financial insolvency. In mid-1995 the central bank suspended interest and principal payments on government bonds and treasury bills held by financial institutions and the general public. The government so far has taken no steps to restrain expenditure or address the deficit, which is expected to be considerably higher than the $20 million forecasted in the 1996 budget.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.2 billion (1996 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 4.5% (1996 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $3,000 (1996 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 10.4% (1996)

Labor force:
total: 26,842
by occupation: services 41.5%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 23.7%, commerce, transport, and finance 21.7%, construction, manufacturing, and mining 13.1% (1992 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget:
revenues: $147 million
expenditures: $168 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)

Industries: copra, fish (tuna)

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - capacity: 20,000 kW (1994)

Electricity - production: 55 million kWh (1994)

Electricity - consumption per capita: NA kWh

Agriculture - products: cocoa, beans, coconuts, palm kernels, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs; timber; fish

Exports:
total value: $170 million (f.o.b., 1995 est.)
commodities: timber, fish, palm oil, cocoa, copra
partners : Japan 39%, UK 23%, Thailand 9%, Australia 5%, US 2% (1991)

Imports:
total value: $152 million (c.i.f., 1995 est.)
commodities: plant and machinery, manufactured goods, food and live animals, fuel
partners: Australia 34%, Japan 16%, Singapore 14%, NZ 9%

Debt - external: $100 million (1995 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $8.625 million from Australia (FY96/97 est.); $3.3 million from NZ (FY95/96)

Currency: 1 Solomon Islands dollar (SI$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Solomon Islands dollars (SI$) per US$1 - 3.7900 (November 1996), 3.4059 (1995), 3.2914 (1994), 3.1877 (1993), 2.9281 (1992)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

Telephones: 5,000 (1991 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 0, shortwave 0

Radios: 38,000 (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 0

Televisions: 2,000 (1992 est.)

Transportation

Railways: 0 km

Highways:
total : 2,100 km
paved: 32 km
unpaved: 2,068 km (includes about 800 km of private plantation roads) (1995 est.)

Ports and harbors: Aola Bay, Honiara, Lofung, Noro, Viru Harbor, Yandina

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 29 (1996 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 19
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m : 17 (1996 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 9 (1996 est.)

Military

Military branches: no regular military forces; Solomon Islands National Reconnaissance and Surveillance Force; Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP)

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: NA

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: NA

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none