Solomon Islands: The Archepelago

Figure 1.-- This photo shows a group of boys on Matema Island in the Solomon Islands in 1906. Matema and the other Solomon islands around Santa Cruz have mpre of aolynesia influence thn the rest of the Solomons. Notice the nose ornamentation.

The Solomons located just east of New Guinea were virtually unknown before World War II. The core of the Solomns are a twin chain of volcanic islands streaching 900 miles in a parallel arangement north and south. The water area between the two chains came to be called the Slot during World War II and ws the scene of a series odf small and medium-sized naval and air encounters. The volcanic islands are mounatenous and heavily covered with tropical vegetation. There are also small coral atols. There are about 1,000 islands and atolls. The major islands include the British Protectorates of Guadalcanal, Malaita, New Georgia, Santa Cruz Isles (group), Choiseul, Santa Isabel, San Cristobal, and Shortland. Defining the Solomons is a little complicated. The Solomons run into islands to the east of new Guinea. The boundary was set arbitrarily by the Anglo-German line negotiated by the United Kingdom and German Empire (1904) which is the basis for the current border. Bougainville and Buka in the north were thus administered by Australia as a part of the New Guinea Mandate. These islands are generally associated with the World War II Solomons camaign. Another compliction is the Sana Cruz Islands set out into the Pacific east of Guadalcanal and Santa Cruz and north of the New Hebredes (Vanuatu). This area was the scene of some of the major World War II South Pacific naval engagements. There are several small islands around Santa Cruz. Matema Island or Matema is of one of the Reef Islands near Santa Cruz in Temotu Province. The language spoken on Matema Island is Pileni, one of the Polynesian language family. Pileni is also spoken on the islands of Pileni, Nupani, Nifiloli, Aua and Nukapu of the Reef Islands, as well as in the Taumako Islands (Duff Islands). Pileni are believed to be descendants of Tuvalu people. It is surrounded by a circular reef one kilometre in diameter. While the islanders of the island speak Pileni (Polynesian), they physically resemble Melanesians although with some obvious Polynesian ethnic ad mixture.


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Created: 3:04 AM 8/9/2009
Last updated: 7:47 PM 12/28/2012