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Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

Summary

The Solomon Islands are most well-known as a pivotal battleground in World War II, where Japanese and U.S. soldiers fought for control of the Pacific on the main island of Guadalcanal. The destruction from the war affected the country’s government and economy for years to come. An early 2000s political coup destroyed many urban areas on Guadalcanal and still contributes to instability in the islands’ economy.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/bp.html

Demographics

Nationality
Solomon Islander
Population
597,248 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Although the islands in the Southwest Pacific are not big producers of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, they are affected by manmade pollution from around the world. Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, which threatens low-lying islands and causes coastal erosion.1 Land loss and flooding are destructive to those who live on the islands, where residents are powerless to stop the effects of climate change. They rely on the rest of the world to cut back on carbon emissions in order to save their homeland.2 Five of the Solomon Islands have already been lost due to climate changes, and an increasing amount are becoming uninhabitable.3

Family

The Solomon Islands have a traditional Melanesian culture, especially characterized by their use of an English hybrid language called Pidgin. Since the island chain has over 900 individual islands, there is a strong sense of pride and community amongst people on each island. Extended families tend to build houses together in villages, but in the least modernized mountainous areas there are separate living quarters for men and women. Arranged marriage is traditional, although many marriages today are the choice of the individuals.1

Human Rights

Domestic violence is very prevalent in the Solomon Islands. Cases of domestic violence that are reported to authorities often never make it to the court system, and many other cases are never reported because of pressure from the abusers and cultural taboos on the subject. Research in 2013 indicated that 67% of women have been victims of some kind of domestic or sexual abuse, but cultural structures prevent them from speaking out or escaping their situations. Women are also often limited to traditional household roles, and a shortage of jobs and education prevent them from transitioning into careers.1

Education

Poverty

Poverty occurs mainly in the non-urban areas of the Solomon Islands. People who are employed in government, industrial, or service jobs move to the city, but most islanders who live in villages are self-employed.1

Religion

The majority of Solomon Islanders identify as Christians as a result of New Zealand missionary efforts in the 1800’s. However, the actual practice of their religion is often more of a mix of traditional animism and Christianity. Ancestors are seen as mediators between living believers and God.1

Clean Water

80% of Solomon Islanders live in rural areas and have difficulty accessing clean water sources. Traditionally, females walked to the closest fresh water sources and carried back as much as they could. In this practice, sometimes storms left them without any clean water options. A clean water initiative started in 2013 with the goal of providing underground clean water sources in all rural villages so that residents wouldn’t have to travel far or be limited by the weather in order to get drinking water.1

Economy

Civil unrest, natural disaster, and even a political coup in the early 2000s devastated the Solomon Islands’ economy. Urban areas on the main island of Guadalcanal was damaged in violent riots. The country’s biggest exports are its natural resources of timber and fish, although improper conservation is quickly depleting them.Tourism has only emerged in recent years, although it is still not a big money-making industry in the area.1 Agriculture and fishing are the main source of sustenance for village dwellers.2

Government

The Solomon Islands are part of the Pacific Islands Forum, an organization that provides a place for heads of government in self-governing Pacific islands to discuss their common issues. The Forum provides assistance to member countries struggling with violence and political unrest. One bureau focuses solely on trade and economic affairs.1 The Solomon Islands are locally governed by an elected prime minister and parliament.2 During World War II, the capital island of Guadalcanal was a central battleground for Japanese and United States soldiers fighting for control of the Pacific.3

Health

Diabetes, cardiovascular, and pulmonary diseases were the leading causes of death in the Solomon Islands in 2015. These, and many other non-communicable diseases, are caused by unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, and inactivity. Other causes of death were malaria, stroke, and traffic accidents.1

Children

In the Solomon Islands, raising children is a collective family effort. Families are responsible for educating their children, and once they are able to think and talk for themselves they are given more and more independence.1 Because of the close knit family structures, there are almost no homeless children. Communities come together to ensure that children have their basic needs met.2

Animals

The Solomon Islands have less biodiversity than some of their other Pacific Island neighbors. Almost 200 species of birds live in the rainforest areas and are under threat because of the mass deforestation taking place as a result of the logging industry. Invasive species are also a threat to indigenous rodents and other small animals.1 In 2009, some local landowners formed a coalition to stand against the logging industry and prevent further deforestation.2

Solomon Islands

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