Honiara Commonwealth Walkway

Solomon Islands / The Pacific

THE SOLOMON ISLANDS The Solomon Islands are situated in the south-west Pacific Ocean, north-west of Australia, east of Papua New Guinea and consist of a double chain of volcanic and coral islands, stretching 1,448 kilometres, the six biggest being Choiseul, New Georgia, Santa Isabel, Guadacalcanal, Malaita and Makira (San Cristobel).  There are thickly forested mountain ranges intersected by narrow, deep valleys.  The majority of the nation belongs to the Solomon chain, with the exception of two islands which form an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea (Bougainville and Buka).   The islands were originally settled by the Papuans from New Guinea, 30,000 years ago, and then discovered by the Spanish explorer, Álvaro de Mendaña, in 1568 and visited by a number of Europeans in the next 300 years.  Missionaries and traders arrived and in 1893 Captain Gibson of HMS Curacao declared it a protectorate of Great Britain, ceding the northern islands to Germany in 1899.  For many years Solomon Islanders were taken as slaves by ‘blackbirders’ to Queensland, Fiji and Sãmoa.  By the mid 20th century, many Chinese came to settle here, some displacing European traders and plantation owners.   After the Second World War, there was a move towards independence.  Self-government was achieved in 1976 and Independence in 1978, at which time the Queen was represented by the Duke of Gloucester.  The Queen is the head of state and is represented by the Governor-General, who resides in Government House at Tulagi.  One of the things the Solomon Islanders kept from the colonial era was the Land Act, preventing the sale of land to foreigners. The Queen visited the Solomon Islands on her South Pacific tour in 1974, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, and Earl Mountbatten of Burma.  The Queen and Prince Philip visited again in 1982, and Prince Philip made solo visits in 1959 and 1971.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge came here in 2012, in the year of the Diamond Jubilee, and the Prince of Wales in 2019, coming here to promote climate change projects focusing on protecting the world’s oceans. Most of the Solomon Islanders live in small rural villages.  They mainly engage in gardening, pig raising, and fishing.  The vast majority are ethnically Melanesian.  Polynesians, who form a small minority, live mainly on outlying atolls such as Ontong Java.  In addition, almost all Solomon Islanders are Christian and more than 60 languages are spoken, while English is the official language.  Education in the Solomon Islands is not compulsory.  Schools are run both by the national and provincial governments and by various churches.  Many secondary schools provide practical training in fields such as agriculture and development studies.  Capital Honiara is the largest city and was officially designated as the capital in 1952.  It is located on the North coast of Guadalcanal Island.  As of 2017, it had a population of 84,520 people and it is the base for tourism to the Solomon Islands.  Honiara was built on land that saw some of the bloodiest battles of WWII.  Today it offers something to satisfy the desires of historians, nature lovers, shoppers, and everyone in between.  Fun Facts 
  • When people raise their eyebrows in answer to a question, it means yes.
  • Kavachi is an underwater volcano that is situated in the Solomon Islands.
  • In Honiara, two local specialities are coconut crab to eat, and the game of Pacific Poker. 
  • The highest point in the Solomon Islands is Mt. Popomanaseu, located on Guadalcanal, reaching more than 2,300 metres into the air.
  • Almost 1,000 islands comprise the 9 provinces of the Solomon Islands.

4.3 miles / 7 kilometres

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