The Solomon Islands is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about 1,000 miles (1,610 kilometers) northeast of Australia and has six main islands and many small islands. Honiara is the capital and largest city.
The main islands range in size from 90 to 120 miles (140 to 190 kilometers) long and from 20 to 30 miles (32 to 48 kilometers) across. These islands were formed by volcanoes. They are mountainous and covered with tropical plants. The weather there is hot and rainy.
Most Solomon Islanders are a Pacific Island people called Melanesians <<mehl uh NEE zhuhnz>>. Almost all of them live in country villages. Many people build houses on stilts—long poles that raise the houses off the ground. This keeps the houses cool and dry. The people’s main foods include chicken, fish, pork, coconuts, sweet potatoes, and the rootlike stems of the taro plant. English is the official language, but about 90 other languages are spoken as well.
Fish, timber, palm oil, cocoa, and copra, or the dried meat of coconuts, are the main products of the Solomon Islands. The country has good shipping, but few roads.
People from New Guinea probably first settled the Solomon Islands about 6,000 years ago. Britain took control of the Solomons in the 1890′s. Some islands in the Solomons were the scene of much bloody fighting between Allied and Japanese forces in 1942 and 1943, during World War II (1939-1945). The Solomon Islands became independent in 1978.
In the early 2000′s, fighting broke out on Guadalcanal Island between the islanders and people from Malaita Island. Many Malaita Islanders moved to Guadalcanal during and after World War II. Soldiers from Australia and other countries came to Guadalcanal to keep the peace. Most of the fighting ended by 2004.
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