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Solomon Islands

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Introduction - Solomon Islands:
CountrySolomon Islands

BackgroundThe UK established a protectorate over the Solomon Islands in the 1890s. Some of the bitterest fighting of World War II occurred on this archipelago. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. Ethnic violence, government malfeasance, and endemic crime have undermined stability and civil society. In June 2003, then Prime Minister Sir Allen KEMAKEZA sought the assistance of Australia in reestablishing law and order; the following month, an Australian-led multinational force arrived to restore peace and disarm ethnic militias. The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has generally been effective in restoring law and order and rebuilding government institutions.

Location - Solomon Islands:
LocationOceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea

Geographic coordinates8 00 S, 159 00 E

Map referencesOceania

Areatotal: 28,450 sq km
land: 27,540 sq km
water: 910 sq km

Area comparativeslightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries0 km

Coastline5,313 km

Maritime claimsmeasured from claimed archipelagic baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm

Climatetropical monsoon; few extremes of temperature and weather

Terrainmostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls

Elevation extremeslowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Makarakomburu 2,447 m

Natural resourcesfish, forests, gold, bauxite, phosphates, lead, zinc, nickel

Land usearable land: 0.62%
permanent crops: 2.04%
other: 97.34% (2005)

Irrigated landNA

Natural hazardstyphoons, but rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earthquakes, tremors, and volcanic activity; tsunamis

Environment current issuesdeforestation; soil erosion; many of the surrounding coral reefs are dead or dying

Environment international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography notestrategic location on sea routes between the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea, and the Coral Sea; on 2 April 2007 an undersea earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale occurred 345 km WNW of the capital Honiara, the resulting tsunami devastated coastal areas of Western and Choiseul provinces with dozens of deaths and thousands dislocated; the provincial capital of Gizo was especially hard hit

People - Solomon Islands:
Population566,842 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure0-14 years: 40.7% (male 117,739/female 113,125)
15-64 years: 55.9% (male 160,310/female 156,773)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 9,036/female 9,859) (2007 est.)

Median agetotal: 19.1 years
male: 19 years
female: 19.3 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate2.54% (2007 est.)

Birth rate29.27 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate3.87 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratioat birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.041 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.023 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.917 male(s)/female
total population: 1.026 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality ratetotal: 19.97 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 22.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 73.16 years
male: 70.64 years
female: 75.81 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate3.78 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rateNA

Hiv aids people living with hiv aidsNA

Hiv aids deathsNA

Nationalitynoun: Solomon Islander(s)
adjective: Solomon Islander

Ethnic groupsMelanesian 94.5%, Polynesian 3%, Micronesian 1.2%, other 1.1%, unspecified 0.2% (1999 census)

ReligionsChurch of Melanesia 32.8%, Roman Catholic 19%, South Seas Evangelical 17%, Seventh-Day Adventist 11.2%, United Church 10.3%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.4%, other Christian 4.4%, other 2.4%, unspecified 0.3%, none 0.2% (1999 census)

LanguagesMelanesian pidgin in much of the country is lingua franca; English (official; but spoken by only 1%-2% of the population); 120 indigenous languages

Literacydefinition: NA
total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA

Government - Solomon Islands:
Country nameconventional long form: none
conventional short form: Solomon Islands
local long form: none
local short form: Solomon Islands
former: British Solomon Islands

Government typeparliamentary democracy

Capitalname: Honiara
geographic coordinates: 9 26 S, 159 57 E
time difference: UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions9 provinces and 1 capital territory*; Central, Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Honiara*, Isabel, Makira, Malaita, Rennell and Bellona, Temotu, Western

Independence7 July 1978 (from UK)

National holidayIndependence Day, 7 July (1978)

Constitution7 July 1978

Legal systemEnglish common law, which is widely disregarded

Suffrage21 years of age; universal

Executive branchchief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Nathaniel WAENA (since 7 July 2004)
head of government: Prime Minister Manasseh SOGAVARE (since 4 May 2006); note - Prime Minister Snyder RINI, elected on 18 April 2006 and sworn in on 20 April 2006, resigned on 26 April prior to no confidence vote in parliament; SOGAVARE elected on 4 May 2006
cabinet: Cabinet consists of 20 members 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 (eligible for a second term); 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 branchunicameral National Parliament (50 seats; members elected from single-member constituencies by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 5 April 2006 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - National Party 6.9%, PAP 6.3%, SIPRA 6.3%, Liberal 5%, Democratic 4.9%, SOCRED 4.3%, LAFARI 2.8%, independents 60.3%; seats by party - National Party 4, SIPRA 4, Democratic 3, PAP 3, LAFARI 2, Liberal 2, SOCRED 2, independents 30

Judicial branchCourt of Appeal

Political parties and leadersAssociation of Independent Members or AIM [Thomas CHAN]; Christian Alliance Solomon Islands or CASI [Edward RONIA]; LAFARI Party [John GARO]; National Party [Francis HILLY]; Peoples Alliance Party or PAP [Sir Allan KEMAKEZA]; Social Credit Party or SOCRED [Manasseh Damukana SOGAVARE]; Solomon First Party [David QUAN]; Solomon Islands Democratic Party [Gabriel SURI]; Solomon Islands Labor Party or SILP [Joses TUHANUKU]; Solomon Islands Liberal Party [Bartholomew ULUFAALU]; Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement or SIPRA [Job D. TAUSINGA]; United Party [Sir Peter KENILOREA]
note: in general, Solomon Islands politics is characterized by fluid coalitions

Political pressure groups and leadersIsatabu Freedom Movement (IFM); Malaita Eagle Force (MEF); note - these rival armed ethnic factions crippled the Solomon Islands in a wave of violence from 1999 to 2003

International organization participationACP, AsDB, C, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, MIGA, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the uschief of mission: Ambassador Collin David BECK
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 usthe 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 descriptiondivided 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

Government noteby 2006, the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) - originally made up of troops from Australia, NZ, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga - had been scaled back to 259 police officers and 20 military, in addition to civilian technical advisers; in response to rioting that broke out in mid-April 2006, Australia dispatched an additional 220 troops and 70 police officers to help restore order

Economy - Solomon Islands:
Economy overviewThe bulk of the population depends on agriculture, fishing, and forestry for at least part of its 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. Prior to the arrival of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), severe ethnic violence, the closing of key businesses, and an empty government treasury culminated in economic collapse. RAMSIs efforts to restore law and order and economic stability have led to modest growth as the economy rebuilds.

Gdp purchasing power parity $800 million (2002 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate $286 million (2005)

Gdp real growth rate4.4% (2005 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp $600 (2005 est.)

Gdp composition by sectoragriculture: 42%
industry: 11%
services: 47% (2000 est.)

Labor force249,200 (1999)

Labor force by occupationagriculture: 75%
industry: 5%
services: 20% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rateNA%

Population below poverty lineNA%

Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate consumer prices 6.6% (2005 est.)

Budgetrevenues: $49.7 million
expenditures: $75.1 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (2003)

Agriculture productscocoa beans, coconuts, palm kernels, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruit; timber; cattle, pigs; fish

Industriesfish (tuna), mining, timber

Industrial production growth rateNA%

Electricity production55 million kWh (2004)

Electricity consumption51.15 million kWh (2004)

Electricity exports0 kWh (2004)

Electricity imports0 kWh (2004)

Oil production0 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil consumption1,280 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exportsNA bbl/day

Oil importsNA bbl/day

Oil proved reserves0 bbl

Natural gas production0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption0 cu m (2004 est.)

Exports$171 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Exports commoditiestimber, fish, copra, palm oil, cocoa

Exports partnersChina 45.2%, South Korea 13.9%, Japan 8.4%, Philippines 4.5%, Thailand 4.4%, Italy 4.2% (2006)

Imports$159 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Imports commoditiesfood, plant and equipment, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals

Imports partnersAustralia 25.2%, Singapore 23.3%, Japan 7.8%, NZ 5%, Fiji 4.2%, Papua New Guinea 4.1% (2006)

Debt external$166 million (2004)

Economic aid recipient$122 million annually, mainly from Australia (2004 est.)

Currency code Solomon Islands dollar (SBD)

Exchange ratesSolomon Islands dollars per US dollar - 7.3447 (2006), 7.5299 (2005), 7.4847 (2004), 7.5059 (2003), 6.7488 (2002)

Communications - Solomon Islands:
Fiscal yearcalendar year

Telephones main lines in use7,400 (2005)

Telephones mobile cellular6,000 (2005)

Telephone systemgeneral assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code - 677; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stationsAM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (2004)

Internet country code.sb

Internet hosts2,658 (2006)

Internet users8,000 (2006)

Transportation - Solomon Islands:
Airports35 (2006)

Airports with paved runwaystotal: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runwaystotal: 33
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 23 (2006)

Roadwaystotal: 1,360 km
paved: 34 km
unpaved: 1,326 km (1999)

Ports and terminalsHoniara, Malloco Bay, Shortland Harbor, Viru Harbor, Yandina

Military - Solomon Islands:
Military branchesno regular military forces; Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP)

Manpower available for military servicemales age 18-49: 114,253 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military servicemales age 18-49: 92,796 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annuallymales age 18-49: 6,033 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures percent of gdp3% (2006)

Disputes internationalsince 2003, Australian Defense Force leads the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) to maintain civil and political order and reinforce regional security

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>