Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Solomon Islands

Map for Solomon Islands
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  • Solomon Islands women are receiving better nutrition information to promote healthier diets for themselves and their families.
  • Houses with woven bamboo walls and thatched roofs, built along the coast in Solomon Islands, are vulnerable to storm surges.
  • Fish for sale at an open-air market in Honiara, Solomon Islands
  • A sign celebrating the removal of weapons is an important part of building a safe environment for peace in Solomon Islands.
  • Young men who have been fighting learn new skills and rebuild communities destroyed by conflict in Solomon Islands.
  • Open-air fruit and vegetable market in Honiara, Solomon Islands
  • Preparing the fishing boats in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
  • Boys walking on stilts in Solomon Islands.
  • The Malaria Survey team checks houses for mosquito nets in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
  • Clearing drains and open waterways reduces the number of mosquito-breeding areas in Solomon Islands.
  • Regular blood tests provide a survey of the number of people who have the malaria parasite in their blood system, in Solomon Islands.
  • A microscopist analyses a blood sample for active plasmodium, in Solomon Islands.
  • In Solomon Islands, with its rich soil, high rainfall and a warm climate, families can grow sufficient food for their needs and sell the leftovers.
  • Logging helps earn valuable income in Solomon Islands, but it is important to ensure that forests are harvested sustainably.
  • Pacific Islanders from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu standing on the deck of a sailing ship.
  • Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy.
  • Women learn financial skills through the WARA savings group and increase their confidence in participating more fully in the community.
  • A woman earns money by selling pineapples at the market in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
  • Women learn about putting money aside for future needs in their savings club meetings in rural Solomon Islands.
  • Women leaders record deposits of the WARA savings club members in rural Solomon Islands and keep them safe for deposit in Honiara.
  • Former Pacific Island indentured labourers waiting for deportation from Cairns, Australia, to their homes in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, 1906.
  • In Solomon Islands, women are receiving better nutrition information to promote healthier diets for themselves and their families.
  • Pieces of red clay pottery with raised circular patterns have been joined together to form a pot. .
  • Solomon Island women gather for the annual White Ribbon Day march in Honiara to highlight domestic violence in the country.
  • A student feeds the chickens kept at his school in Solomon Islands.
  • Taking fish to market in Solomon Islands.
  • Row boats take Pacific Islanders out to a sailing boat floating in the distance.
  • Peter Bua has a shower at a new water point in Nusa Barooka village, Solomon Islands.

Case studies

Australian Pacific Islanders

Row boats take Pacific Islanders out to a sailing boat floating in the distance.
During the second half of the 19th century Pacific Islanders were vital labour for the sugar industry, but many were deported when Australia became a nation in 1901.
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Combating malaria in Solomon Islands

Clearing drains and open waterways reduces the number of mosquito-breeding areas in Solomon Islands.
A multi-pronged approach to combating malaria is improving life and development for people in Solomon Islands.
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Cultural change in Solomon Islands

In Solomon Islands, with its rich soil, high rainfall and a warm climate, families can grow sufficient food for their needs and sell the leftovers.
Learning about human rights is empowering women to speak out and improve equality in Solomon Islands.
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People of the Pacific

Cultural, linguistic and biological evidence indicates people of the Pacific Islands travelled west through South-East Asia.
The origin stories of Pacific Islanders and scientific evidence provide insights into the formation and history of settlement of the Pacific Islands.
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South Pacific sea level monitoring

A weather-monitoring station in Kiribati.
Sea level monitoring stations in the south-west Pacific are collecting data to assist nations to prepare for climate change.
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Women's microfinance lighting up the community

Women learn financial skills through the WARA savings group and increase their confidence in participating more fully in the community.
In rural Solomon Islands groups of women share knowledge, learn financial skills and develop leadership skills. They are investing in solar panels to improve life in the community.
Read more
Flag of Solomon Islands

Population:

549,598

GNI per capita (PPP US$):

1,390

Adult literacy rates:

84%

Access to water:

77%
Did you know?

There are butterflies with 25-centimetre wingspans living in Solomon Islands.

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Geography

Physical geography

Located to the east of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands archipelago consists of more than 900 islands with a total land area of 128,446 square kilometres. The six main islands are Guadalcanal, Malaita, New Georgia, Makira, Santa Isabel and Choiseul. The larger islands are volcanic, densely forested mountain ranges with steep, narrow river valleys and thin coastal plains with mangroves and coconut palms. Makarakomburu, on Guadalcanal Island, is the highest point at 2,293 metres. Little of the land is suitable for crops, although coral reefs provide plentiful fishing resources. The outer islands are small, coral atolls.

Climate

Spread out along the equator, Solomon Islands experiences a tropical monsoonal climate all year round. The mean temperature is 27 °C and humidity ranges between 60% and 90%. Annual rainfall is high, ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 millimetres. Most rain falls between November and April. Cyclones occur regularly during the summer months.

Environment

Solomon Islands has over 4,500 plant species, including about 230 varieties of orchids. Animals include opossums, bats and mice and there are more than 150 species of birds with many species of parrot and incubator bird. Forest covers about 79% of the land, with dense tropical rainforest occurring on most islands. Parts of the coast are swampy, supporting extensive mangrove forests. Inadequate controls on forestry mean that soil erosion is a major problem. Many surrounding coral reefs are dead or dying.

East Rennell is Solomon Islands’ first World Heritage listed site. Located on the southernmost Island of Rennell, the area features dense forest, Lake Tegano and numerous endemic species and is largely untouched by humans. These attributes, coupled with the climate and frequent weather events such as cyclones, means that East Rennell is an important area for scientific study.

Population

Solomon Islanders live in small villages scattered over more than 300 of its islands. Almost one-fifth of the population live in urban areas, the major ones being: Honiara, the capital city, situated on Guadalcanal; Gizo in the New Georgia Islands; Auki on Malaita; Buala on Santa Isabel; Tulagi on Nggela Sule; and Kirakira on Makira.

People

Culture and identity

The population of Solomon Islands is predominantly Melanesian, although there are smaller Polynesian, Micronesian, Chinese and European communities. The social structure is extremely diverse and complex and varies from island to island. Different customs – codes of behaviour, systems of land tenure, leadership rules, blends of traditional and world religions, marriage rules and so on – exist throughout the nation. Most communities recognise strong kinship links and obligations with the broad language group.

Carvings can be found throughout the islands, and can range from ornate ritual bowls to miniature canoe souvenirs. Music is played throughout Solomon Islands using bamboo pipes in a variety of forms, played either in sets or singly, as wind instruments or by hitting them with a rubber thong to produce a range of sounds.

The five five-pointed stars on the flag on the background of blue represent the nation’s five administrative units, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. The yellow stripe represents the sunshine and the green the land and forests.

Health

Delivery of healthcare is difficult, given the dispersed nature of the population. Life expectancy is 74 years and infant mortality rate is 16 per 1,000 live births. The leading causes of death in children under the age of five years include acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, malaria, perinatal complications and injuries. Access to safe water is 79%, while sanitation is only 28%. There are low levels of HIV/AIDS but risk factors are high.

Religion and beliefs

The vast majority of the population (95%) are Christian, but in many cases these beliefs are held alongside traditional ones.

Dances, songs and stories about war, hunting, the natural world or the harvesting of crops from the ‘time before’ are part of everyday life. A common belief is that a dead person’s spirit lives on for a time in sharks, birds or reptiles. This means these animals may become sacred for a time and tabu, forbidden to eat. These animals are treated with reverence and called upon in difficult times.

Food and shelter

Fresh seafood, chicken, green vegetables and tubers cooked in coconut milk or baked in the ground form the basis of most meals. Bush materials, such as thatched coconut leaves and woven bamboo, are used for housing in the villages.

Economy

Wealth and poverty

The country relies heavily on foreign aid. The majority of the population is involved in subsistence agriculture or fishing with less than a quarter of the population involved in any paid work.

Education and work

There are no formal school fees for students to Year 9. Enrolment for both boys and girls in primary school is high, at around 95%.  Despite these high enrolment rates many children are dropping out or repeating grades and only 32% of year 4 students meet the basic literacy standard. 

Most people in the villages are involved in food production – farming or fishing. In the towns, most people are involved in the provision of services and a small number of people are involved in industry.

Industries and products

The main crops are copra, cocoa, palm oil, rice, fruits, vegetables, spices and tobacco. There is also some processing of fish (tuna), and timber production. Tourism is limited by the lack of facilities, but some visitors are attracted by diving and surfing opportunities.

Trade

In 2012 China and Australia imported timber, fish, copra, palm oil and cocoa from Solomon Islands. Imports of manufactured goods and fuel came from Singapore and Australia.

Government

Solomon Islands became independent from UK in 1978 and follows the Westminster system of democracy with the British monarch the Head of State represented by a Governnor-General. The unicameral national Parliament comprises 50 members elected for a four-year term under a first-past-the-post voting system.

The last elections were held in August 2010 where the Reformed Democratic Party, led by Danny Phillip, aligned with a number of other political parties to form the National Coalition for Reform and Achievement and formed government. In 2011 Danny Phillip resigned and members of parliament voted to elect Gordon Darcy Lilo as prime minister.

Achievements and challenges

Cyclones and earth tremors occur regularly. In 2007 an undersea earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale resulted in a tsunami devastating the coastal areas of the Western and Choiseul provinces.

A growing population and migration to urban areas continues to place pressure on infrastructure and increase the demand for water, sanitation, housing, education and health services. The country also has one of the highest malaria rates in the world.

Ethnic violence between people of Guadalcanal and people of Malaita living in Honiara severely disrupted civil society and the economy from the mid 1990s. From 2003-2013 the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), a partnership of 15 countries, provided a comprehensive package restoring law and order, rebuilding government institutions and fostering stronger, broad-based economic growth. On 1 July 2013, RAMSI's military component was withdrawn and development assistance activities transferred to the programs of other donors, mainly Australia's.

Solomon Islands is struggling to meet the Millennium Development Goals particularly of reducing child mortality (MDG 4) and ensuring environmental stability (MDG 8). With the population spread out over hundreds of islands, and many communities in isolated areas, the delivery of essential services is difficult.

Links with Australia

Australia has a deep and longstanding relationship with Solomon Islands. In the 1860s large numbers of Solomon Islanders were recruited, sometimes by force, to work on sugar plantations in Queensland. During World War 2, Australians were involved in the struggle to liberate the islands from Japanese occupation. In the post-war period, people and business links with Solomon Islands have grown steadily and today there are estimated to be around 700 Australians resident in Solomon Islands, many engaged in small businesses and missionary work.

Australian Aid focuses on improving education, access to clean water and sanitation, promoting gender equality and creating a skilled workforce.

Solomon Islands women are receiving better nutrition information to promote healthier diets for themselves and their families.
Photo by Jeremy Miller for AusAID
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Solomon Islands women are receiving better nutrition information to promote healthier diets for themselves and their families. Photo by Jeremy Miller for AusAID
Houses with woven bamboo walls and thatched roofs, built along the coast in Solomon Islands, are vulnerable to storm surges.
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Print | Save
Houses with woven bamboo walls and thatched roofs, built along the coast in Solomon Islands, are vulnerable to storm surges. Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Fish for sale at an open-air market in Honiara, Solomon Islands
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
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Fish for sale at an open-air market in Honiara, Solomon Islands Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
A sign celebrating the removal of weapons is an important part of building a safe environment for peace in Solomon Islands.
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Print | Save
A sign celebrating the removal of weapons is an important part of building a safe environment for peace in Solomon Islands. Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Young men who have been fighting learn new skills and rebuild communities destroyed by conflict in Solomon Islands.
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Print | Save
Young men who have been fighting learn new skills and rebuild communities destroyed by conflict in Solomon Islands. Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Open-air fruit and vegetable market in Honiara, Solomon Islands
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Print | Save
Open-air fruit and vegetable market in Honiara, Solomon Islands Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Preparing the fishing boats in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
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Preparing the fishing boats in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Boys walking on stilts in Solomon Islands.
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
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Boys walking on stilts in Solomon Islands. Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
The Malaria Survey team checks houses for mosquito nets in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Photo by Jeremy Miller for AusAID
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The Malaria Survey team checks houses for mosquito nets in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Photo by Jeremy Miller for AusAID
Clearing drains and open waterways reduces the number of mosquito-breeding areas in Solomon Islands.
Photo by Peter Thomas/Rotarians Against Malaria
Print | Save
Clearing drains and open waterways reduces the number of mosquito-breeding areas in Solomon Islands. Photo by Peter Thomas/Rotarians Against Malaria
Regular blood tests provide a survey of the number of people who have the malaria parasite in their blood system, in Solomon Islands.
Photo by Peter Thomas/Rotarians Against Malaria
Print | Save
Regular blood tests provide a survey of the number of people who have the malaria parasite in their blood system, in Solomon Islands. Photo by Peter Thomas/Rotarians Against Malaria
A microscopist analyses a blood sample for active plasmodium, in Solomon Islands.
Photo by Peter Thomas/Rotarians Against Malaria
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A microscopist analyses a blood sample for active plasmodium, in Solomon Islands. Photo by Peter Thomas/Rotarians Against Malaria
In Solomon Islands, with its rich soil, high rainfall and a warm climate, families can grow sufficient food for their needs and sell the leftovers.
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Print | Save
In Solomon Islands, with its rich soil, high rainfall and a warm climate, families can grow sufficient food for their needs and sell the leftovers. Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Logging helps earn valuable income in Solomon Islands, but it is important to ensure that forests are harvested sustainably.
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Print | Save
Logging helps earn valuable income in Solomon Islands, but it is important to ensure that forests are harvested sustainably. Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
Pacific Islanders recruited and indentured from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to work in the Australian sugar industry arriving in Bundaberg.
State Library of Queensland, negative number 16954
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Pacific Islanders recruited and indentured from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to work in the Australian sugar industry arriving in Bundaberg. State Library of Queensland, negative number 16954
Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy.
National Library of Australia, BIB 1085805
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Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy. National Library of Australia, BIB 1085805
Women learn financial skills through the WARA savings group and increase their confidence in participating more fully in the community.
Joanna Brislane, IWDA
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Women learn financial skills through the WARA savings group and increase their confidence in participating more fully in the community. Joanna Brislane, IWDA
A woman earns money by selling pineapples at the market in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Photo courtesy West 'Are' Are Rokotanikeni Association
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A woman earns money by selling pineapples at the market in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Photo courtesy West 'Are' Are Rokotanikeni Association
Women learn about putting money aside for future needs in their savings club meetings in rural Solomon Islands.
Photo courtesy West 'Are' Are Rokotanikeni Association
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Women learn about putting money aside for future needs in their savings club meetings in rural Solomon Islands. Photo courtesy West 'Are' Are Rokotanikeni Association
Women leaders record deposits of the WARA savings club members in rural Solomon Islands and keep them safe for deposit in Honiara.
Joanna Brislane, IWDA
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Women leaders record deposits of the WARA savings club members in rural Solomon Islands and keep them safe for deposit in Honiara. Joanna Brislane, IWDA
Former Pacific Island indentured labourers waiting for deportation from Cairns, Australia, to their homes in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, 1906.
State Library of Queensland, negative number 23842
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Former Pacific Island indentured labourers waiting for deportation from Cairns, Australia, to their homes in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, 1906. State Library of Queensland, negative number 23842
In Solomon Islands, women are receiving better nutrition information to promote healthier diets for themselves and their families.
Photo by Jeremy Miller for AusAID
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In Solomon Islands, women are receiving better nutrition information to promote healthier diets for themselves and their families. Photo by Jeremy Miller for AusAID
Carbon dating pottery found around the Pacific has shown the spread of people across the Pacific.
Stephen Alvarez/National Geographic/Getty Images
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Carbon dating pottery found around the Pacific has shown the spread of people across the Pacific. Stephen Alvarez/National Geographic/Getty Images
Solomon Island women gather for the annual White Ribbon Day march in Honiara to highlight domestic violence in the country.
Photo by DFAT
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Solomon Island women gather for the annual White Ribbon Day march in Honiara to highlight domestic violence in the country. Photo by DFAT
A student feeds chickens as he learns how to care for them and generate an income kept at his school in Solomon Islands.
Photo by Irene Scott for DFAT
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A student feeds chickens as he learns how to care for them and generate an income kept at his school in Solomon Islands. Photo by Irene Scott for DFAT
Taking fish to market in Solomon Islands.
Photo by Conor Ashleigh for DFAT
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Taking fish to market in Solomon Islands. Photo by Conor Ashleigh for DFAT
Pacific Island recruiting ship 'Para', c 1880
State Library of Queensland, negative number 65320
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Pacific Island recruiting ship 'Para', c 1880 State Library of Queensland, negative number 65320
Peter Bua has a shower at a new water point in Nusa Barooka village, Solomon Islands.
Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID
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Peter Bua has a shower at a new water point in Nusa Barooka village, Solomon Islands. Photo by Rob Maccoll for AusAID