Facts about Solomon Islands

World Facts Index

Solomon IslandsThe UK established a protectorate over the Solomon Islands in the 1890s. Some of the bitterest 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.

Geography of the Solomon Islands

Location:
Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea
Coordinates:
8 00 S, 159 00 E
Area:
total: 28,450 sq km
water: 910 sq km
land: 27,540 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
5,313 km
Maritime claims:
measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM
Climate:
tropical monsoon; few extremes of temperature and weather
Terrain:
mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Makarakomburu 2,447 m
Natural resources:
fish, forests, gold, bauxite, phosphates, lead, zinc, nickel
Natural hazards:
typhoons, but rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earth tremors; volcanic activity
Environment current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion; many of the surrounding coral reefs are dead or dying
Geography - note:
strategic location on sea routes between the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea, and the Coral Sea

Population of the Solomon Islands

Population:
581,318 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.3% (male 116,370/female 111,834)
15-64 years: 55.4% (male 154,793/female 151,308)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 8,696/female 9,437)
Median age:
18.9 years
Growth rate:
2.61%
Infant mortality:
20.63 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.91 years
male: 70.4 years
female: 75.55 years
Fertility rate:
3.91 children born/woman
Nationality:
noun: Solomon Islander(s)
adjective: Solomon Islander
Ethnic groups:
Melanesian 93%, Polynesian 4%, Micronesian 1.5%, European 0.8%, Chinese 0.3%, other 0.4%
Religions:
Anglican 45%, Roman Catholic 18%, United (Methodist/Presbyterian) 12%, Baptist 9%, Seventh-Day Adventist 7%, other Protestant 5%, indigenous beliefs 4%
Languages:
Melanesian pidgin in much of the country is lingua franca; English is official but spoken by only 1%-2% of the population
note: 120 indigenous languages

Government

Country name:
conventional short form: Solomon Islands
former: British Solomon Islands
Government type:
parliamentary democracy tending toward anarchy
Capital:
Honiara
Administrative divisions:
9 provinces and 1 capital territory*; Central, Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Honiara*, Isabel, Makira, Malaita, Rennell and Bellona, Temotu, Western
Independence:
7 July 1978 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 7 July (1978)
Constitution:
7 July 1978
Legal system:
English common law, which is widely disregarded
Suffrage:
21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Nathaniel WAENA (since 7 July 2004)
head of government: Prime Minister Derek SIKUA (since 20 December 2007); note - Prime Minister Manasseh SOGAVARE defeated in a no confidence vote in parliament on 13 December 2007; SIKUA elected on 20 December 2007
cabinet: Cabinet consists of 20 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister from among the members of Parliament
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the advice of Parliament for up to five years (eligible for a second term); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of a majority coalition is usually elected prime minister by Parliament; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister from among the members of Parliament.
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Parliament (50 seats; members elected from single-member constituencies by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Court of Appeal

Economy

The bulk of the population depends on agriculture, fishing, and forestry for at least part of its livelihood. Most manufactured goods and petroleum products must be imported. The islands are rich in undeveloped mineral resources such as lead, zinc, nickel, and gold. Prior to the arrival of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), severe ethnic violence, the closing of key businesses, and an empty government treasury culminated in economic collapse. RAMSI's efforts to restore law and order and economic stability have led to modest growth as the economy rebuilds.

GDP:
$948 million (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
5.8% 
GDP per capita:
$1,700
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 42%
industry: 11%
services: 47%
Inflation rate:
10% 
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 75%, industry 5%, services 20% 
Budget:
revenues: $49.7 million
expenditures: $75.1 million 
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
Industries:
fish (tuna), mining, timber
Agriculture:
cocoa beans, coconuts, palm kernels, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs; timber; fish
Exports:
timber, fish, copra, palm oil, cocoa
Export partners:
China 39.1%, South Korea 15.6%, Thailand 6.6%, Japan 5.6%, Philippines 4.7%, Italy 4% 
Imports:
food, plant and equipment, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals
Import partners:
Australia 26%, Singapore 24.8%, NZ 6.4%, Fiji 4.3%, Papua New Guinea 4.1% 
Currency:
Solomon Islands dollar (SBD)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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