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Solomon Islands

Capital city: Honiara

Population: 702,042 (2021)

Land area: 28,400 km²

Official language: English

Legal system: the Constitution, customary law, the British Soloman Islands Protectorate, common law

Time zone: GMT+11

Currency: Solomon Islands dollar (SBD)

GDP: 1.50 USD Billion (2021 est.)

Main industries: Fisheries, forestry and mining, with most manufactured produce being food, beverages, tobacco, wood products

Principal exports: Wood, palm oil, fish

The population of Solomon Islands is estimated to be around 690,600 in 2021.  With a high birth rate of 23.07 births per 1,000 population, the Solomon Islanders population is rather young and its growth is relatively fast.  In 2021, it is estimated that the population growth rate of Solomon Islands is 1.75%, ranking 55th globally.  The median age of the Solomon Islanders is 23.5, with around 33% and 53% of the population under 14 and 24 years of age respectively.  Regarding the population distribution, the majority of the population live along coastal regions, while only a small proportion of Solomon Islanders live in urban areas.

While there are some Polynesians, Micronesians, Chinese and Europeans living in the Solomon Islands, the vast majority of the population is ethnically Melanesian.  There are as many as 63 different languages spoken by Solomon Islanders, not to mention numerous local dialects.  While English is the official language, Pijin is the language that is most widely used for communication.

The Solomon Islands is formed by an archipelago of 992 islands and atolls scattered in a gentle curve, more than 300 of which are inhabited. The main islands, lying within two parallel island chains that extend from the Shortland Islands in the west to Tikopia and Anuta in the east, are large and rugged.  Despite having some extensive plains, the Solomon Islands is mostly mountainous and covered in forests.

The climate of the Solomon Islands is tropical oceanic, which means that it is hot and humid but at the same time there are cool winds and abundant rainfall.  The temperature in the Solomon Islands only varies slightly throughout the year.  The Solomon Islands has several active and extinct volcanoes.  An example would be Tinakula, a submarine volcano near New Georgia, which has erupted every few years.

In 1568, Spanish explorer, Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira, became the first European to reach the Solomon Islands.  In 1886, Germany and Britain divided the islands between them, but in 1899 Germany gave Britain the northern islands in order to have its claims in Samoa and parts of Africa recognized in return.  In 1942, the Solomon Islands was occupied by Japan during the Second World War, but eventually the Japanese was defeated and British rule was restored in 1945.  The Solomon Islands achieved self-governance in 1976, which was followed by its independence in 1978.

Regarding the system of government, the Solomon Islands adopts the Westminster system.  Constitutional monarchy is also practiced in the Solomon Islands, with the British monarch, represented by the Governor-General, as the Head of State.  The Head of Government is the Prime Minister, who is elected by the parliament and leads his cabinet.  In relation to local governments, the Solomon Islands is divided into ten administrative areas, which are administered by their respective elected provincial members.

The Solomon Islands has a mixed legal system of English common law and customary law.  Its sources of law include: the 1978 Constitution, the statues, customary law, the laws of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, and the principles and rules of the common law and equity.  The supreme court in the Solomon Islands is the Court of Appeal, which is headed by a president and whose members include senior judges from other jurisdictions, the chief justice and High Court judges.

The estimated real GDP growth rate of the Solomon Islands is 3.5% in 2017.  As the Solomon Islands is rich in timber and undeveloped mineral resources, its economy relies heavily on natural resources, such as timber, fish, copra, palm oil, cocoa and gold. The major export destinations in Solomon Island include China, Italy, Thailand, Taiwan and Netherlands.

The majority of the Solomon Islander population rely on agriculture, fishing and forestry for their livelihood.  Most of them are engaged in subsistence farming and fishing.  Examples of major subsistence crops include sweet potato, banana, taro, yam, beans and cabbage.  Major cash crops grown on and exported from the Solomon Islands are coconut, palm oil and cocoa beans.

The Solomon Islands has great potential for developing its tourism industry.  This is because the islands have some distinctive features that appeal to international travelers who would like to explore and try something new.  Tourists can participate in a range of activities, for instance birdwatching, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, trekking, and cultural exploration.  In addition, the islands and waters are famous for their remarkable biodiversity as thousands of different animal species and plants can be found.  Many species are even exclusively known to the Solomon Islanders.

Following its independence from Britain, the Solomon Islands joined the Commonwealth in 1978 and was the 37th member of the Commonwealth.  Ever since it attended its first Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982, it has actively participated in the Games and has only been absent from the Games in 1986.