The Solomon Islands archipelago consists of nearly a thousand islands scattered over the South Pacific, and is situated east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Fiji. This country is considered Melanesian, as opposed to Polynesian or Micronesian. Some of the larger islands have active volcanoes, whereas many of the islands are nothing more than tiny atolls covered in sand and coconut trees.
The Solomon Islands are organized into nine provinces. The main island province is Guadalcanal, at the center of the Solomon Islands. Guadalcanal is the largest of the islands and where the capital Honiara is located. To the northwest of Guadalcanal are the provinces of Central, Isabel, Western, and Choiseul. To the southeast of Guadalcanal are the provinces of Makira, Rennell & Bellona, and Temotu. The province of Malaita, on the other hand, is located to the southeast of the main island.
The first settlers of the Solomon Islands were probably Papuans from New Guinea about 30,000 years ago. Álvaro de Mendańa de Neira was the first European to discover the islands when he arrived in 1568 from Peru. In 1893, the UK made the islands a British protectorate and various missionaries settled in the Solomons, converting most of the population to Christianity. In WWII, these islands became the theatre of intensive battles between the Japanese and the Allied forces, including the Battle of Guadalcanal, considered by many to be the turning point in the war. After the war, the British continued administering the islands as a colony, but the Solomons gained independence in 1976.
In recent years, the Solomon Islands have begun developing its tourist industry. Each year, more and more travelers are discovering these remote and unspoiled islands. The Solomon Islands have already developed a reputation for being the best destination in the world for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and surfing. The aquamarine life and flora in the Solomons are superb with numerous unique animals and plants including some of the world’s rarest orchids. Visitors can also enjoy exploring the various volcanoes like the Savo as well as various WWII historical sites like the waters of Iron Bottom Sound, below which lie the remnants of numerous sunken WWII vessels.
Unfortunately, in April of 2007 the Solomon Islands were struck by an 8.1 earthquake that was followed by a large Tsunami and a series of aftershocks. Many homes have been destroyed and many people are missing. The Tsunami has mainly affected the island of Gizo in the Western province. Some areas have sustained damage to infrastructure. And food, shelter, and clean water have become scarce in some other areas. Before planning a trip, it is a good idea to make sure the islands you plan on visiting are unaffected or have since recovered from the catastrophe.