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Solomon Islands



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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 these islands. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. Current issues include government deficits, deforestation, and malaria control.

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, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling
  signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

People

Population: 466,194 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 44% (male 105,024; female 101,065)
  15-64 years: 53% (male 124,627; female 121,358)
  65 years and over: 3% (male 6,935; female 7,185) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.04% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 34.79 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 4.35 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 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: 0.97 male(s)/female
  total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 25.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 71.28 years
  male: 68.86 years
  female: 73.81 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.8 children born/woman (2000 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%, indigenous 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
  definition: NA
  total population: NA%
  male: NA%
  female: NA%

Government

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

Data code: BP

Government type: parliamentary democracy

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: English common law

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch
  chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Father John LAPLI (since NA 1999)
  head of government: Prime Minister Bartholomew ULUFA'ALU (since 27 August 1997); Deputy Prime Minister Sir Baddeley DEVESI (since 27 August 1997)
  cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister from among the members of Parliament
  elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch 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 (50 seats; members elected from single member constituencies by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
  elections: last held 6 August 1997 (next to be held by August 2001)
  election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - GNUR 21, PAP 7, NAPSI 5, SILP 4, UP 4, independents 6, other 3

Judicial branch: Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders: characterized by fluid coalitions; Christian Fellowship [leader NA]; Group for National Unity and Reconciliation or GNUR [leader NA]; Labor Party or LP [Joses TUHANUKU]; Liberal Party [Bartholomew ULUFA'ALU]; National Action Party of Solomon Islands or NAPSI [leader NA]; National Party [leader NA]; Nationalist Front for Progress or NFP [Andrew NORI]; People's Alliance Party or PAP [leader NA]; Solomon Islands Labor Party or SILP [leader NA]; Solomon Islands National Unity, Reconciliation, and Progressive Party or SINURP [Job Duddley TAUSINGA] (leader of opposition); United Party or UP [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: 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 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 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. Economic troubles in Southeast Asia led to a steep downturn in the timber industry, and economic output declined by about 10% in 1998. The government instituted public service pay cuts and other retrenchments. The economy partially recovered in 1999 on the strength of rising international gold prices and the first full year of the Gold Ridge mining operation. However, the closure of the country's major palm oil plantation in mid-year cast a shadow over future prospects.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.21 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 3.5% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,650 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 50%
  industry: 3.5%
  services: 46.5% (1995)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: NA%
  highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10% (1999 est.)

Labor force: 26,842

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%

Unemployment rate: NA%

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

Industries: fish (tuna), mining, timber

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 30 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 100%
  hydro: 0%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 28 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

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

Exports: $142 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

Exports - commodities: timber, fish, palm oil, cocoa, copra

Exports - partners: Japan 50%, Spain 16%, UK, Thailand 5% (1996)

Imports: $160 million (c.i.f., 1998 est.)

Imports - commodities: plant and equipment, manufactured goods, food and live animals, fuel

Imports - partners: Australia 42%, Japan 10%, Singapore 9%, NZ 8%, US 5% (1996)

Debt - external: $135 million (1997)

Economic aid - recipient: $46.4 million (1995)

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

Exchange rates: Solomon Islands dollars (SI$) per US$1 - 5.0745 (January 2000), 4.8381 (1999), 4.8156 (1998), 3.5664 (1997), 3.4059 (1995)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 7,000 (1995)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 230 (1995)

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

Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios: 57,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 0 (1997)

Televisions: 3,000 (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA

Transportation

Railways: 0 km

Highways
  total: 1,360 km
  paved: 34 km
  unpaved: 1,326 km (includes about 800 km of private plantation roads) (1996 est.)

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

Merchant marine: none (1999 est.)

Airports: 33 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 2
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
  914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 31
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
  914 to 1,523 m: 8
  under 914 m: 21 (1999 est.)

Military

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

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

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