Background: The UK established a protectorate over the Solomon Islands in the 1890s. Some of the most bitter fighting of World War II occurred on this archipelago. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. Ethnic violence, government malfeasance, and endemic crime have undermined stability and civil society. In June 2003, then Prime Minister Sir Allan KEMAKEZA sought the assistance of Australia in reestablishing law and order; the following month, an Australian-led multinational force arrived to restore peace and disarm ethnic militias. The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has generally been effective in restoring law and order and rebuilding government institutions.
Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea
Area land: 27,986 sq km
Area water: 910 sq km
Coastline: 5,313 km
Country name conventional long form: none
Country name conventional short form: Solomon Islands
Country name former: British Solomon Islands
Population: 571,890 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 37.8% (male 111,265/female 104,896); 15-64 years: 58.3% (male 169,873/female 163,621); 65 years and over: 3.9% (male 10,879/female 11,356) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 2.22% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 28.03 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 3.93 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female; total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 17.82 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 20.29 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 15.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 74.18 years; male: 71.6 years; female: 76.89 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 3.59 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA;
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA;
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA;
Nationality: noun: Solomon Islander(s); adjective: Solomon Islander;
Ethnic groups: Melanesian 94.5%, Polynesian 3%, Micronesian 1.2%, other 1.1%, unspecified 0.2% (1999 census);
Religions: Church of Melanesia 32.8%, Roman Catholic 19%, South Seas Evangelical 17%, Seventh-Day Adventist 11.2%, United Church 10.3%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.4%, other Christian 4.4%, other 2.4%, unspecified 0.3%, none 0.2% (1999 census);
Languages: Melanesian pidgin in much of the country is lingua franca; English (official but spoken by only 1%-2% of the population); 120 indigenous languages;
GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.559 billion (2010 est.); $1.517 billion (2009 est.); $1.553 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $674 million (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 2.8% (2010 est.); -2.3% (2009 est.); 7.4% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $2,800 (2010 est.); $2,800 (2009 est.); $2,900 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 42%; industry: 11%; services: 47% (2005 est.);
Population below poverty line: NA%;
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 202,500 (2007);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 75%; industry: 5%; services: 20% (2000 est.);
Unemployment rate: NA%;
Budget: revenues: $49.7 million; expenditures: $75.1 million (2003);
Industries: fish (tuna), mining, timber;
Industrial production growth rate: NA%;
Electricity - production: 71 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 66.03 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
The Australian government justified its intervention, which came within months of the invasion of Iraq, by labeling the Solomon Islands a "failed state" and a potential source of terrorism.
The newly elected prime minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, hit out on May 7 at Australian leaders for interfering in the internal affairs of the nation.
Gunfire shook two South Pacific nations in late May and June, toppling the governments of Fiji and the Solomon Islands, leaving the regional press to uncover the festering racial and ethnic tension behind images of these tropical paradises.
In the Solomon Islands, decades-old ethnic tensions between Guadalcanalese and Malaitans living on Guadal-canal have exploded into attacks by Guadalcanalese militants on the Malaitans.