Useful country information
Land area: 10,633 sq mi (27,539 sq km); total area: 10,985 sq mi (28,450 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 609,883 (growth rate: 2.07%); birth rate: 26.33/1000; infant mortality rate: 16.17/1000; life expectancy: 74.89; density per sq mi: 46.9
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Honiara (on Guadalcanal), 68,000
Monetary unit: Solomon Islands dollar
Languages: English 1%?2% (official), Melanesian pidgin (lingua franca), 120 indigenous languages
Ethnicity/race: Melanesian 95.3%, Polynesian 3.1%, Micronesian 1.2%, other 0.3% (2009 est.)
Religions: Protestant 73.4% (Church of Melanesia 31.9%, South Sea Evangelical 17.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 11.7%, United Church 10.1%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.5%), Roman Catholic 19.6%, other Christian 2.9%, other 4%, none 0.03%, unspecified 0.1% (2009 est.)
Literacy rate: 84.1%
The Solomon Islands consist of six major and approximately 900 smaller volcanic islands, coral atolls and reefs, more than 300 of them are inhabited. They stretch about 900 miles in a south-easterly direction from Papau New Guinea toward Fiji. The former UK protectorate, established in the 1890s, is one of the poorest countries in the South Pacific; 85 percent of the country's population live in isolated rural villages on undeveloped outer islands.
Self-government was achieved in 1976 followed by independence in 1978.
Government malfeasance, etnic armed conflicts and civil unrest left the country in danger of a total collapse. Following an urgent request from the Solomons government for help, Australian-led regional forces landed in the capital Honiara on July 2003 to rescue the Solomon Islands from collapse. After one year of the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) in 2004 the law and order situation and indeed the fiscal situation remains fragile.
other Melanesian islands: Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu
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