Official name: Solomon Islands
Area: 28,450 square kilometers (11,000 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Mount Makarakomburu (2,447 meters/8,127 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sea level
Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern
Time zone: 11 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 1,688 kilometers (1,049 miles) from east-southeast to west-northwest; 468 kilometers (291 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest
Land boundaries: None
Coastline: 5,313 kilometers (3,301 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
The nation of Solomon Islands is located in the South Pacific region of Oceania, nearly 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Australia and about 485 kilometers (300 miles) east of Papua New Guinea. With an area of about 28,450 square kilometers (11,000 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of Maryland. Solomon Islands is divided into seven provinces and one town.
Solomon Islands has no outside territories or dependencies.
Solomon Islands has a tropical monsoon climate with very few extremes in temperature. November through March is the hottest period, while from April through October it is cooler and drier. Normally, the daytime temperatures range from 25°C to 32°C (77°F to 90°F), with nighttime temperatures ranging from 3°C to 5°C (38°F to 41°F).
The northwest monsoon, which brings warmer and wetter weather, lasts from November through March. Cyclones often start in the Coral Sea and the area of the Solomons, but often veer away from the islands themselves. Annual average rainfall is 305 centimeters (120 inches). Average humidity is nearly 80 percent.
Solomon Islands is an archipelago formed by the exposed peaks of a submerged mountain chain. This chain extends from Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea to the northern islands of Vanuatu. The Solomon Islands nation covers the central islands of this chain.
Almost all of the larger islands are volcanic in origin and are covered with steaming rain-forests and mountain ranges intersected by narrow valleys. Most of the smaller islands are low coral atolls. Solomon Islands lies on the Transitional Zone along the edge of the Pacific and Australian Tectonic Plates. Earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.
The Pacific Ocean lies to the north and east of the Solomon Islands. The Solomon Sea is southwest of the islands and the Coral Sea is directly south. Solomon Islands are surrounded by expanses of coral reefs. Unfortunately, much of the coral barrier is dead or dying.
The Bougainville Strait lies between Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea and the northwestern islands of Choiseul, Vella Lavella, and the Shortland Islands. The Indispensable Strait connects the South Pacific to the New Georgia Sound, which lies between the two lines of islands that make up the archipelago. Kaoka Bay is located at the southeastern end of the sound, between the islands of Guadalcanal and Malaita.
Solomon Islands is a country that is only a part of the larger chain of islands that are also called the Solomon Islands. The largest island in the country is Guadalcanal, which covers 5,300 square kilometers (2,047 square miles). There are five other large islands, all in the western part of the chain: Choiseul, New Georgia, Santa Isabel, Malaita, and San Cristobal. Smaller islands include: Bellona, Duff, Gizo, Kolombangara, Ontong Java, Rennell, Savo, the Shortland Islands, Ranongga, Simbo, Rendova, Vangunu, Nggatoake, Russell, and Vella Lavella. To the east of these islands lie the part of the chain called the Santa Cruz Islands; these include Santa Cruz, Nendo, Tikopia, Utupua, Vanikolo, Anuta, Fetaka, Duff, and the Reef Islands. In addition, there are approximately 992 islets, atolls, and reefs in the group.
Lagoons and mangrove swamps surround the islands at the coasts.
There are no major lakes in Solomon Islands. There are several smaller ones, including Lake Te Nggano.
The short, narrow, and impassable rivers of the Solomon Islands are navigable only by canoe.
Mataniko Falls is located southwest of the capital city of Honiara on Guadalcanal. The double-sided falls pour into a cave full of stalagmites.
There are no desert regions in the Solomon Islands.
Guadalcanal Island contains the nation's only major grassy plains. The alluvial deposits from the streams on this island created the surrounding land mass.
The five largest islands—Choiseul, New Georgia, Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal, and Malaita—are characterized by heavily forested mountain ranges. The terrain is very rugged; Mount Makarakomburu, the nation's highest point, reaches 2,447 meters (8,127 feet) on the southern end of Guadalcanal. Steep, narrow valleys intersect with the mountain ranges.
During World War II (1939–45), Japanese soldiers who were trying to avoid capture by the Americans hid in the cave at Mataniko Falls on Guadalcanal.
There are no plateau regions on the Solomon Islands.
There are no major man-made structures affecting the geography of the Solomon Islands.
Oceania is a term that refers to the islands in the region that covers the central and south Pacific Ocean and its adjacent seas. The north-south boundaries for the region are the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the southern tip of New Zealand.
Bennett, Judith A. Wealth of the Solomons: A History of a Pacific Archipelago , 1800–1978. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987.
Diamond, J. Solomon Islands . Chicago: Children's Press, 1995.
Jack-Hinton, Colin. The Search for the Islands of Solomon 1567–1838 . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.
Newton Abbot, David, and Charles Newton Abbot. The Solomon Islands . Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1972.
Solomon Islands: A Travel Survival Kit . South Yarra; Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet, 1988.
Solomon Islands, Pearl of the Pacific. http://www.solomons.com (accessed June 19, 2003).