Solomon Islands 2

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands 3
Sir Peter Kenilorea, 1st Prime Minister of Solomon Islands

With decolonization sweeping the colonial world, and Britain no longer willing (or able) to bear the financial burdens of the Empire, the colonial authorities sought to prepare the Solomons for self-governance. Appointed Executive and Legislative Councils were established in 1960, with a degree of elected Solomon Islander representation introduced in 1964 and then extended in 1967. Full self-government for the territory was achieved in 1976, a year after the independence of neighboring Papua New Guinea from Australia.

Independence Era (1978-present):

Conflict in neighboring Bougainville, which broke out in 1988, causing many refugees to flee to the Solomons. Tensions arose with Papua New Guinea as PNG forces frequently entered Solomons territory in the pursuit of rebels. The situation calmed down and relations improved following the end of the conflict in 1998. Meanwhile, the country’s financial situation continued to deteriorate, with much of the budget coming from the logging industry, often conducted at an unsustainable rate. Excessive logging, government corruption and unsustainable levels of public spending continued to grow.

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2003 Peace Rally

Commonly referred to as the tensions or the ethnic tension, the initial civil unrest was mainly characterized by fighting between the Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM, also known as the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army and the Isatabu Freedom Fighters) and the Malaita Eagle Force (as well as the Marau Eagle Force). For many years people from the island of Malaita had been migrating to Honiara and Guadalcanal, attracted primarily by the greater economic opportunities available there. The large influx caused tensions with native Guadalcanal islanders (known as Guales), and in late 1998 the IFM was formed and began a campaign of intimidation and violence towards Malaitan settlers. Thousands of Malaitans subsequently fled back to Malaita or to Honiara, and in mid-1999 the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) was established to protect Malaitans on Guadalcanal. In late 1999, after several failed attempts at brokering a peace deal, Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa’aluthe declared a four-month state of emergency, and also requested assistance from Australia and New Zealand, but his appeal was rejected. Meanwhile, law and order on Guadalcanal collapsed, with an ethnically divided police unable to assert authority and many of their weapons depots being raided by the militias; by this point the MEF controlled Honiara with the IFM controlling the rest of Guadalacanal.

By early 2001 the economy had collapsed and the government was bankrupt. The prevailing atmosphere of lawlessness, widespread extortion, and ineffective police prompted a formal request by the Solomon Islands Government for outside help, a request was unanimously supported in Parliament.

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Australian Troops Burning Militia Weapons

In July 2003, Australian and Pacific Islands police and troops arrived in Solomon Islands under the auspices of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).The situation improved dramatically, with violence ending. Some 200 people had been killed in the conflict. Unfortunately, violence resumed and continues.


Solomon Islands is an island nation that lies east of Papua New Guinea and consists of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands. The major part of the nation is the mountainous High islands of the Solomon Islands archipelago, which includes Choiseul, the Shortland Islands, the New Georgia Islands, Santa Isabel, the Russell Islands, the Florida Islands, Tulagi, Malaita, Maramasike, Ulawa, Owaraha (Santa Ana), Makira (San Cristobal), and the main island of Guadalcanal.

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