The Solomon Islands, with the state of the same name in beige. Bougainville (part of Papua New Guinea) is the dark green island to the northwest.
|Major islands||Bougainville, Guadalcanal|
The Solomon Islands are an archipelago in the South-Western Pacific Ocean, northeast of Australia, in the region known as Melanesia. The archipelago is currently divided between two countries; Papua New Guinea, in which they make up the autonomous province of Bougainville; and the Solomon Islands, which bears the same name.
It is believed that Papuan-speaking settlers began to arrive around 30,000 BC from New Ireland. It was the furthest humans went in the Pacific until Austronesian speakers arrived c. 4000 BC also bringing cultural elements such as the outrigger canoe. It is between 1200 and 800 BC that the ancestors of the Polynesians, the Lapita people, arrived from the Bismarck Archipelago with their characteristic ceramics. Most of the languages spoken today in the Solomon Islands derive from this era, but some thirty languages of the pre-Austronesian settlers survive (see East Papuan languages).
The first European to visit the islands was the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira, coming from Peru in 1568. The people of Solomon Islands had engaged in headhunting and cannibalism before the arrival of the Europeans.
Missionaries began visiting the Solomons in the mid-19th century. They made little progress at first, because "blackbirding" (the often brutal recruitment of laborers for the sugar plantations in Queensland and Fiji) led to a series of reprisals and massacres. In 1885, the Germans declared a protectorate over the Northern Solomon Islands, while the evils of the labor trade prompted the United Kingdom to declare a protectorate over the southern Solomons in June 1893, the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. In the year 1900, under the Treaty of Berlin (1899), the Germans transferred a number of their Solomon Islands to the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. The remaining German Solomon Islands at the extreme northwest of the archipelago fell to Australia early on in the first world war, and after the war the League of Nations formally mandated those islands to Australia along with the rest of German New Guinea. German New Guinea then became Australian New Guinea. Australian New Guinea was administered separately from the neighbouring Territory of Papua until the year 1949 when the two territories were formally united into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Territory of Papua and New Guinea became independent from Australia in the year 1975 as the modern state of Papua New Guinea. The German Solomon Islands that were retained by Germany after the Treaty of Berlin (1899), nowadays belong to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, which is a part of Papua New Guinea.
The climate of the islands is tropical, however temperatures do not greatly fluctuate due to the heat sink of the surrounding ocean. . Daytime temperatures are normally 25 to 32 degrees Celsius and 13 to 15 °C at night. From April to October (the Dry Season), the Southeast trade winds blow, gusting at times up to 30 knots (55 km/h) or more. November to March is the wet season, caused by the northwest monsoon, and is typically warmer and wetter. Cyclones arise in the Coral Sea and the area of the Solomon Islands, but they usually veer toward Vanuatu and New Caledonia or down the coast of Australia.
Many Melanesian languages (predominantly of the Southeast Solomonic group) and Polynesian languages are native to the area. Immigrant populations speak Micronesian languages. English is an official language in both areas of the archipelago.
The Solomon Islands are divided between the state of the Solomon Islands and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. Both countries are constitutional monarchies due to their being Commonwealth Realms. Bougainville is considering independence from Papua New Guinea.
- Kirch, Patrick Vinton (2002). On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23461-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- "From primitive to postcolonial in Melanesia and anthropology". Bruce M. Knauft (1999). University of Michigan Press. p.103. ISBN 0-472-06687-0 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]