The World Factbook (1990)/Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

See regional map X


Total area: 28,450 km²; land area: 27,540 km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than Maryland

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 5,313 km

Maritime claims: (measured from claimed archipelagic baselines)

Extended 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

Natural resources: fish, forests, gold, bauxite, phosphates

Land use: 1% arable land; 1% permanent crops; 1% meadows and pastures; 93% forest and woodland; 4% other

Environment: subject to typhoons, which are rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earth tremors

Note: located just east of Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific Ocean


Population: 335,082 (July 1990), growth rate 3.5% (1990)

Birth rate: 41 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 5 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/ 1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 40 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 67 years male, 72 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 6.3 children born/woman (1990)

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

Ethnic divisions: 93.0% Melanesian, 4.0% Polynesian, 1.5% Micronesian, 0.8% European, 0.3% Chinese, 0.4% other

Religion: almost all at least nominally Christian; Anglican, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Roman Catholic Churches dominant

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

Literacy: 60%

Labor force: 23,448 economically active; 32.4% agriculture, forestry, and fishing; 25% services, 7.0% construction, manufacturing, and mining; 4.7% commerce, transport, and finance (1984)

Organized labor: NA, but most of the cash-economy workers have trade union representation


Long-form name: none

Type: independent parliamentary state within Commonwealth

Capital: Honiara

Administrative divisions: 7 provinces and 1 town*; Central, Guadalcanal, Honiara*, Isabel, Makira, Malaita, Temotu, Western

Independence: 7 July 1978 (from UK; formerly British Solomon Islands)

Constitution: 7 July 1978

Legal system: common law

National holiday: Independence Day, 7 July (1978)

Executive branch: British monarch, governor general, prime minister, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral National Parliament

Judicial branch: High Court

Leaders: Chief of State—Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General George LEPPING (since 27 June 1989, previously acted as governor general since 7 July 1988);

Head of Government—Prime Minister Solomon MAMALONI (since 28 March 1989); Deputy Prime Minister Danny PHILIP (since 31 March 1989)

Political parties and leaders: People's Alliance Party (PAP), Solomon Mamaloni; United Party (UP), Sir Peter Kenilorea; Solomon Islands Liberal Party (SILP), Bartholemew Ulufa'alu; Nationalist Front for Progress (NFP), Andrew Nori; Labor Party (LP), Joses Tuhanuku

Suffrage: universal at age 21

Elections: National Parliament—last held 22 February 1989 (next to be held February 1993); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(38 total) PAP 13, UP 6, NFP 4, SILP 4, LP 2, independents 9

Member of: ACP, ADB, Commonwealth, ESCAP, G-77, GATT (de facto), IBRD, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, SPF, UN, UPU, WHO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador (vacant) resides in Honiara (Solomon Islands); US—the ambassador in Papua New Guinea is accredited to the Solomon Islands; Embassy at Mud Alley, Honiara (mailing address is American Embassy, P. O. Box 561, Honiara); telephone (677) 23488

Flag: 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


Overview: About 90% of the population depend on subsistence agriculture, fishing, and forestry for at least part of their livelihood. Agriculture, fishing, and forestry contribute about 75% to GDP, with the fishing and forestry sectors being important export earners. The service sector contributes about 25% to GDP. Manufacturing activity is negligible. 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 economy suffered from a severe cyclone in mid-1986 which caused widespread damage to the infrastructure.

GDP: $156 million, per capita $500; real growth rate 4.3% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 11.2% (1988)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $139.0 million; expenditures $154.4 million, including capital expenditures of $113.4 million (1987)

Exports: $80.1 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—fish 46%, timber 31%, copra 5%, palm oil 5%; partners—Japan 51%, UK 12%, Thailand 9%, Netherlands 8%, Australia 2%, US 2% (1985)

Imports: $101.7 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—plant and machinery 30%, fuel 19%, food 16%; partners—Japan 36%, US 23%, Singapore 9%, UK 9%, NZ 9%, Australia 4%, Hong Kong 4%, China 3% (1985)

External debt: $128 million (1988 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 0% (1987)

Electricity: 15,000 kW capacity; 30 million kWh produced, 90 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: copra, fish (tuna)

Agriculture: including fishing and forestry, accounts for about 75% of GDP; mostly subsistence farming; cash crops—cocoa, beans, coconuts, palm kernels, timber; other products—rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, cattle, pigs; not self-sufficient in food grains; 90% of the total fish catch of 44,500 metric tons was exported (1988)

Aid: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1985), $16.1 million

Currency: Solomon Islands dollar (plural—dollars); 1 Solomon Islands dollar (SI$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Solomon Islands dollars (SI$) per US$1—2.4067 (January 1990), 2.3090 (1989), 2.0825 (1988), 2.0033 (1987), 1.7415 (1986), 1.4808 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: about 2,100 km total (1982); 30 km sealed, 290 km gravel, 980 km earth, 800 private logging and plantation roads of varied construction

Ports: Honiara, Ringi Coye

Civil air: no major transport aircraft

Airports: 29 total, 27 usable; 2 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 2,439 m; 5 with runways 1, 220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: 3,000 telephones; stations—4 AM, no FM, no TV; 1 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: NA

Military manpower: NA

Defense expenditures: NA