About The Solomon Islands


LOCATION

The Solomon Islands lay between 5 and 13 degrees south of the equator and has a warm and tropical climate. The Solomon Islands is an archipelagic state situated in the South West Pacific Ocean, approximately 2,000 kilometres to the north-east of Australia. Its land mass of 28,400 square kilometres extends over nearly one thousand islands comprising nine main island groups. The capital, Honiara, is located on Guadalcanal, which is the largest island.

CLIMATE

The average day time temperature ranges between 25 to 30 degrees Celsius with high humidity. The range tends to be greater at elevated places than at places near the coast. During the evenings it can be as cool as 19 degrees celcius.

Wet season falls on November to April and the average annual rainfall is mostly within the range 3000 to 5000 millimetres with the majority of monthly rainfall amounts in excess of 200 millimetres. Because of the low altitude of the islands they are less subject to the damaging effects of tropical cyclones however cyclones still pose a threat to the country each year during the wet season. This time of year, is however, the best time to visit if you are a surfer.

HISTORY

Solomon Islands' first contact with Europeans was in 1568, when the Spanish explorer Mendana visited the islands. Whaling boats and traders began to visit the archipelago during the nineteenth century, followed closely by missionaries.

In 1893, the British Government established a protectorate over the eastern group of islands with Germany controlling most of the west. As the result of an Anglo-German agreement of 1899, the British protectorate was extended to all nine main island groups now part of the nation of Solomon Islands, while Buka and Bougainville became part of German New Guinea (later incorporated into Papua New Guinea).

Britain granted Solomon Islands internal self-government in 1976, followed by independence on 7 July 1978. At independence, Solomon Islands joined the Commonwealth with Queen Elizabeth II as its Head of State, represented by a Governor General. The unicameral National Parliament comprises 50 members, elected for a four-year term under a "first past the post" voting system. The Prime Minister is elected by a simple majority of members of parliament. Party structures in Solomon Islands are fluid. In addition to the national government, there are nine provincial assemblies, each led by a premier.

Australia has a deep and longstanding relationship with the Solomon Islands. During the Second World War, Australians were involved in the struggle to liberate the islands from Japanese occupation. In the post-war period, people and business links with Solomon Islands have grown steadily and there are now estimated to be around 700 Australians resident in Solomon Islands, mainly in Honiara.

PEOPLE

The population of Solomon Islands, estimated to be over 550,000 in 2011, is predominantly Melanesian (about 95%) although there are also smaller Polynesian, Micronesian, Chinese and European communities. There are 63 distinct languages in the country, with numerous local dialects. English is the official language of Solomon Islands but Solomon Pijin is the lingua franca for the majority of people.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

The main public hospital is in Honiara with smaller facilities in major provincial centres. Private clinics are also found in Honiara. Malaria medication is recommended; insect repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net is highly recommended, especially in remote areas.

Don't drink tap water unless it has been boiled. Bottled and rain water are generally available throughout the Solomon Islands.

Travel insurance is a must. If you can't afford it, you can't afford to travel. We can assist you with the right policy. Please see your GP for up to date advice.

The Solomon Islands has had some bad press in recent times – political unrest, riots and mobs looting in the streets. This has happened in Honiara on an odd occasion, but let’s be realistic though - it can happen in your own country. As always, you hear the bad and never the good news about a destination, but Solomon Islanders and Melanesian people in general, are very peaceful people that are very accepting and friendly towards tourists, particularly if you are spending any time in the outposts and villages.

As with most large towns and cities, it is advised that you don’t travel alone late at night in Honiara and that you take necessary precautions, either by organising transport or travel in groups. Smaller towns have very few issues, but common sense is required with what you wear and with your personal security.

Things to be aware of are:

  • Don’t give the perception that you are wealthy – leave valuable jewellery and unnecessary items at home; avoid taking out your wallet or purse in public view – carry smaller notes and loose change in your pockets at local markets;
  • Have your handbags securely attached to you and keep closed;
  • Lock your room at all times and windows when you go out;
  • Dress appropriately - leave your flashy suits and high heels at home. Ladies, be conservative with your clothing and travel light; apart from in Honiara, there are no fancy night clubs in the Solomons.
  • Most resorts are on standalone properties, away from civilisation, so security is never usually a problem.

Treat people how you’d like to be treated and you’ll have a holiday to remember.