922 islands extending 1,400 km: six large volcanic islands in two parallel chains; about 20 medium-sized islands and countless islets. Two of the country’s four active volcanoes are located on the mountainous island chains, covered with dense rain forests.
Max. altitude: 2,447 m. (8,028 ft.) (Mt. Makarakomburu)
Area: 27,997 sq. km. (10,810 sq. mi.) (1993)
Density: 32 pers./sq. mi. (1993)
Arable land: 1% (1989-90)
Forest: 91% (1989-90)
Climate: Equatorial, with few extremes of temperature. Rainfall occurs throughout the year. From November to April, north-west trade winds bring more rain and occasional cyclones.
Settled by at least 2000 BC by Melanesians.
1568: Spanish explorer Mendana de Neyra reaches the islands and there are unsuccessful efforts to settle.
1850s: Anglican missionaries arrive.
1963-1910: Over 100,000 islanders are forcibly recruited to work as labourers on plantations in Australia and other islands.
1885: The northern islands become German Protectorate and eight years later, the southern islands become British Protectorate.
1898-99: The Northern Solomons ceded to Britain in exchange for its withdrawal from Western Samoa.
1920: Bougainville and Buka are placed under Australian Mandate by League of Nations.
1942: Japan invades and severe battles follow. Thousands of islanders volunteer to fight alongside US soldiers but the islands are decimated by war.
1946-50: First independence movement.
1970: New constitution establishes governing council.
1976: Granted internal self-government as the Solomon Islands.
July 7, 1978: Full independence within the Commonwealth.
1986: The country is hit by the most devastating cyclone in living memory, with enormous cost to agriculture and the economy in general.
1989: The Solomons became the 10thSouth Pacific nation to ratify the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. It joins with Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu to form the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which aims to promote co-operation between these three countries and to further broader Melanesian interests in the region.