29 interesting facts about the Solomon Islands

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The most interesting facts about the Solomon Islands, from an island named after US President Kennedy to a giant rat that fell from a tree.

One of the country's 992 islands
Several interesting facts about the Solomon Islands stem from its 992 islands (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Solomon Islands
Capital city: Honiara
Population: 685,097
Area: 28,896 sq km
Major languages: Melanesian pidgin, English
Time zone: UTC+11
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about the Solomon Islands

1. The Solomon Islands are an island nation located in Oceania. They consist of approximately 992 small islands, atolls and reefs.
– Source: United Nations

2. Only 347 of the islands are populated. The six major islands are Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Malaita, Makira, New Georgia and Santa Isabel.
– Source: Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands (2016) London: Lonely Planet

3. The Solomon Islands are the third-largest archipelago in the South Pacific.
– Source: Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands (2016) London: Lonely Planet


4. The first settlers of the Solomon Islands were Papuan-speaking hunter-gatherers from New Guinea. They inhabited the islands for possibly as long as 50,000 years before Austronesian-speaking early Melanesians began arriving around 4000BC.
– Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lonely Planet

5. The Lapita people appeared in the Solomon Islands around 3,000 years ago – between 2000 and 1600BC.
– Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lonely Planet

rain forest on one of the islands
Many islands are covered by dense rain forest (Shutterstock)

6. The first European to explore the islands was the Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana in 1568.
– Source: Britannica

7. Believing that gold was present, Mendana named the islands after the legendary King Solomon’s mines.
– Source: The Commonwealth

8. The Solomon Islands were colonised by the UK in the 19th century. The British Solomon Islands Protectorate was declared in 1893.
– Source: Britannica


9. The protectorate was informally known as “The Happy Isles”.
– Source: Reuters

10. In 1942, during the Second World War, the Solomon Islands were occupied by Japan. There was extensive fighting, especially during the decisive Battle of Guadalcanal. The Japanese were eventually forced from the islands by the Allies in 1945 and British rule was restored.
– Source: History Channel

11. Today, the islands are popular with scuba divers due to the numerous Second World War submarine, ship and aircraft wrecks.
– Source: Smithsonian

A plane wreck from World War 2
A WW2 plane wreck (Shutterstock)

12. US President John F Kennedy kept a coconut shell in his Oval Office as a reminder of when he was marooned in the Solomon Islands in 1943. After his boat sank, he was rescued by two Solomon Islanders called Eroni Kumana and Biuku Gasa.
– Source: Smithsonian

13. The president, along with 10 other survivors, swam to the uninhabited Plum Pudding Island. It has now been renamed Kennedy Island.
– Source: New Zealand Herald


14. In 1976, the Solomon Islands became self-governing before achieving complete independence from the UK in 1978.
– Source: The Commonwealth

15. The national flag consists of triangles of blue, which represents the importance of water, and green, which represents trees and crops, separated by a yellow diagonal stripe which represents the sun. In the upper corner are five white stars which stand for the original five provinces that initially made up the country.
– Source: Britannica

The flag of the Solomon Islands
The flag of the Solomon Islands (Shutterstock)

16. Between 1998 and 2003, the Solomon Islands was gripped by a crisis known as “the tensions” in which armed combat took place between militants from the islands Guadalcanal and the Malaita.
– Source: BBC News

17. In 2000, Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa’alu was taken hostage by the Malaitan Eagle Force. He was subsequently forced to resign.
– Source: BBC News

18. In 2003, an Australian-led peacekeeping force was deployed in the Solomon Islands. It stayed for 14 years until 2017.
– Source: BBC News


19. In the late 19th century, the Solomon Islands were among several Pacific islands to suffer from ‘blackbirding’. Blackbirding was the kidnapping of people for use as forced labour on plantations in Fiji and Australia. The grotesque practice ended around 1872 and led to several countries banning overseas-labour recruitment.
– Source: The Guardian

20. It’s believed that approximately 30,000 labourers from the Solomon Islands were recruited between 1870 and 1910 to work on plantations in Fiji and Queensland, Australia.
– Source: Britannica

21. The Solomon Islands’ coat of arms is a shield framed by a crocodile and a shark. The motto “To Lead Is To Serve” is displayed beneath it. On the shield are an eagle, a turtle, a war shield and some fighting spears.
– Source: Encyclopedia.com

The Solomon Islands coat of arms
The Solomon Islands coat of arms (Prez001/CC:3.0)

22. Despite being an official language, only around 1-2% of the population speak English. There are approximately 120 indigenous languages also spoken in the Solomon Islands.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

23. In 2019, the UK’s Prince Charles visited the Solomon Islands and “delighted” a crowd of Solomon Islanders by addressing them in pidgin. He said “Mi hapi visiting to place blong yu fela,” to applause from the crowd.
– Source: The Guardian


24. The Solomon Islands are one of just 22 countries not to have an army.
– Source: The Atlantic

25. In 2017, a species of giant rat capable of opening coconuts with its teeth was discovered in the Solomon Islands. For decades, no one could prove the creature existed, then in 2015, one fell from a tree as it was cut down. The rats can grow up to 45cm long and weigh 0.5kg.
– Source: National Geographic, The Guardian

26. The Solomon Islands have 173 bird species, 69 of which are endemic and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
– Source: WWF, South Pacific (2016) London: Lonely Planet

A parrot in the Solomon Islands
A parrot in the Solomon Islands (Shutterstock)

27. Rennell Island in the Solomon Islands is the largest raised coral atoll in the world at 86km long and 15km wide. East Rennell is part of Rennell Island and is the country’s only UNESCO World Heritage site.
– Source: UNESCO

28. The Solomon Islands have over 4,500 plant species including 230 varieties of orchids.
– Source: South Pacific (2016) London: Lonely Planet

29. Finally, dense rain forest covers around 90% of the islands.
– Source: Encyclopedia.com


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