Bougainville Island is the largest in the archipelago, while it is geographically part of the Solomon Islands archipelago, it is politically an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. The Solomon Islands also includes isolated low-lying coral atolls and high islands including Sikaiana, Rennell Island, Bellona Island, the Santa Cruz Islands and the remote, tiny outliers, Tikopia, Anuta, and Fatutaka.
Solomon Islands’ per-capita GDP of $600 ranks it as a lesser developed nation, and more than 75% of its labor force is engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing. Most manufactured goods and petroleum products must be imported. Only 3.9% of the area of the islands are used for agriculture, and 78.1% are covered by forests.
Until 1998, when world prices for tropical timber fell steeply, timber was Solomon Islands’ main export product, and, in recent years, Solomon Islands forests were dangerously overexploited. In the wake of the ethnic violence in June 2000, exports of palm oil and gold ceased while exports of timber fell. Other important cash crops and exports include copra, cacao and palm oil.
In 1998 gold mining began at Gold Ridge on Guadalcanal. Minerals exploration in other areas continued. The islands are rich in undeveloped mineral resources such as lead, zinc, nickel, and gold. Negotiations are underway that may lead to the eventual reopening of the Gold Ridge mine which was closed after the riots in 2006.
Solomon Airlines connects Honiara to Nadi in Fiji, Port Vila in Vanuatu and Brisbane in Australia as well as to more than 20 domestic airports in each province of the country. To promote tourism Solomon Airlines introduced a weekly direct flight connection between Brisbane and Munda in 2019. Virgin Australia connects Honiara to Brisbane twice a week. Most of the domestic airports are accessible to small planes only as they have short, grass runways.
The road system in Solomon Islands is insufficient and there are no railways.
Most of the islands can be reached by ferry from Honiara. There is a daily connection from Honiara to Auki via Tulagi by a high speed catamaran.
Flag of Solomon Islands:
The flag of the Solomon Islands consists of a thin yellow diagonal stripe divided diagonally from the lower hoist-side corner, with a blue upper triangle and green lower triangle, and the canton charged with five white stars. Adopted in 1977 to replace the British Blue Ensign defaced with the arms of the protectorate, it has been the flag of the Solomon Islands since 18 November of that year, eight months before the country gained independence. Although the number of provinces has since increased, the number of stars on the flag that originally represented them remained unchanged.
The design was created by a New Zealander teaching visual arts at the King George VI School, in the eastern part of the capital Honiara. This was in spite of the fact that preference was supposed to be given to local submissions by Solomon Islanders. The stars stood for the country’s provinces and not the Southern Cross, unlike the flags of nearby Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa. It was ratified as the new flag of the islands on 18 November 1977, eight months before the country became the final British protectorate to gain independence.