The Melanesian population was part of the first migration out of Africa ending when the aborignees reached New Guinea and Australia. The Melenesians eventually settled island east of New Guinea and Australia. Archeologists believe that people reached the Solomon Islands (about 2000 BC). Europeans first reached the Solomons in the 16th century. The Spainard Alvaro de Mendana first mentioned the islands (1568). There was initially little interest in colonizing the islands. Britain and Germany divided the islands between them (1886). The British placed the southern Solomons under a protectorate (1893). This was extended to the Eastern Solomons (1898). The Germans briefly occupied New Guinea and the northern Solomons during their colonial outreach and naval building effort. The Germans transferred the northern Solomons (except Bougainville and Buka) by treaty to Britain (1900). The British and Australians seized the German possessions at the onset of World war I (1914). The islands since World War I were thus admistered by the British and Austrlians. As the early phase of the Pacific War played out, the Solomons which had been one of the most remote, isolated areas of the world proved to have a strategic location. And it was in the Solomons that the rapidly mobilizing United States first confronted the expanding Japanese Empire on land--the climatic battle for Guadalcanal. This set off a series of bitterly fought naval engagements both up and down the Slot and the blur water east and south of the Solomons that proved to be the turning point of the War. The independent country of the Solomon Islands is what was the British southern and eastern Solomons.
The Melanesian population was part of the first migration out of Africa ending when the aborignees reached New Guinea and Australia. The Melenesians eventually settled island east of New Guinea and Australia. The Pacific islands were settled later because more sophisticated maritime technology was needed to reach them.
Archeologists believe that people reached the Solomon Islands (about 2000 BC), although there is no archeoliogical evidence to substantiate this. The settlers are believed to be people of the Austronesian language group. Pottery from the Lapita culture has been found in the eastern Solomons (Santa Cruz and the Reef Islands) (about 1500 BC). Archeological material dating to about 1000 BC has been found at various locations throughoutthe Solomons--Vatuluma Cave on Guadalcanal, Santa Ana Island, and on the outlying islands of Anuta and Tikopia.
Europeans first reached the Solomons in the 16th century. The Spainard Alvaro de Mendana first mentioned the islands (1568). Wild rumors began circulating that he not only discovered gold, but it was here that the Isreali King Solomon obtained the gold for his famed temple in Jerusalem. This is why the islands came to be called Islas de Solomón. Subsequent Spanish expeditions to the southwest Pacific (1595 and 1606) were unable to find the gold and the Spanish quickly lost interest. As far as we know, no Europeans visited the islands for anpther two centuries. As a result, geographers began to see the reportys as legendary and called the very existence of the islands into question. It is only in the late-18th century that reports by French and English navigators confirmed the existence of the islands. But the islanders in the mean time had virtually no contact with the outside world. New Gyuinea and the Solomons might be called the mosrt remote, isolated area of the world. The British settled Botnay Bay/Sydney (1788). As a result of the British development of an Australian colony, naval and commercial shipping began passing through the Solomons for the first time. This strategic location would become a major factor in the Pacific War, but at the time none of the great powers showed an interest in colonizing the islands.
Missionaries were some of the first Europeans to settle ion the island. Anglican missionaries began taking islanders to New Zealand for training (1850s). Anglian missionaries began to settle in the Solomons (1870s). Other missionaries came later. Roman Catholic missionaries founded a mission (1898). There was little effort at first to develop resources or found plantations. The Europeans did begin to exploit the Solomons for labor (late-19th century). The Europeans were seeking labor to work their plantations on Fiji and other islands as well as Queensland in northeastern Australia. Some 30,000 workers were recruited (1870-1910). Germany unified as a result of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Imperial Germany thus became the most powerful country in Europe. And German nationalists were soon demanding that along with their country's new status, an overseas empire was meeded. Unfortunately most of the world was already colonized. One such unclaied area was New Guinea and the Solomons. And to avoid a conflict, Germany and Britain agreed to divide eastern New Guine and the Solomons (1886). The two countries modified the original division (1899). Germany transferred the northern Solomons (except for Buka and Bougainville) to Britain which had already claimed the southern islands. Britain in return recognized the German claims in Western Samoa (now Samoa) and certain Africa claims. The British established a Solomon Islands Protectorate (1893). The Britosh were responding to abuses associated with labor recruitment and to legally regulate contacts between islanders and European settlers. They were also concerned about a rumored annexation by France. Formal colonial rule began (1896). Britain and Germany divided the islands between them (1886). The British placed the southern Solomons under a protectorate (1893). This was extended to the Eastern Solomons (1898). The Germans briefly occupied New Guinea and the northern Solomons during their colonial outreach and naval building effort. The Germans transferred the northern Solomons (except Bougainville and Buka) by treaty to Britain (1900).
The British and Australians seized the German possessions at the onset of World W aar I (1914). The islands since World War I were thus admistered by the British and Austrlians.
Colonial administration of the Solomons camerelatively late in the colonial era. As a result, it might be described as basically humane, especially in comparison to earlier colonial periods. The missionaries played aole here. The colomial administrations were, however, set up primarily to promote the interests of the Europeans who came to do business such as the traders and planters rather than for the benefit of the islanders. The laws were very strict and would be viewed as harsh by modern standards for offenses seen as offending the colonial administration or resident Europens. The most notable incident occured on Malaita, an island northeast of Guadalcanal across the Slot. Kwaio men murdered government tax collectors (1927). The British responded with a brutal punitive expedition, backed by an Australian naval ship. They burned and looted villages and killed many Kwaio. The leader of the murder action, Basiana, and some of his associates were tracked down and arrested. His boys who wre still young were made to watch the execution. Many of the islanders, however, had little contact with Europeans and government officials.
As the early phase of the Pacific War played out, the Solomons which had been one of the most remote, isolated areas of the world proved to have a strategic location. Japan after launching the Pacific War by attacking Pearl Harbor and quicjky seized a huge swath of the southwest Pacific and Southeast Asia. The principal remaining Allied position remainong was Australia. The Japanese Army now heavily committed garisoning its new wmpire and still fighting in China diod not feel it had the strength to invade Australia. Rather the Japanese established a major base at Rabaul and then began seizing New Guinea. The Imperial Japanese Navy began planning to seize south Pacifc Islands east of Australia that could be used to sever the sea lanes between the Unite States and Australia. The United Sttes was rushing men and supplies to Australia to shore up its defenses. A Japanese invasion force headed for Port Moresby on New Guinea was turned back by Amertican carriers in the Coral Sea (May 1942). Shortly after the U.S. Pacific Fleet delivered a massive blow to the Imperial Navy, sinking four of its first line carriers at Midway (June 1942). The Japanese still intent on cutting the sealanrs to Australia, bgan building a\n air base on Guafalcanal in the southern Solomons. Their advance farther southward was stopped by U.S. forces, which invaded Guadalcanal (August 7)e Fighting in the Solomons over the next 15 months was some of the most bitter in the Pacific; the long Battle of Guadalcanal was one of the crucial conflicts of the Pacific war. And it was in the Solomons that the rapidly mobilizing United States first confronted the expanding Japanese Empire on land--the climatic battle for Guadalcanal. This set off a series of bitterly fought naval engagements both up and down the Slot and the blue water east and south of the Solomons that proved to be the turning point of the War. Throughout the campaign the U.S. forces and their allies were strongly supported by the islanders. The United States returned the islands to Britain at the end of the War (1945).
After the war, because of the proximity of an airfield and the availability of flat land and of the military’s buildings, Honiara on Guadalcanal became the new capital, replacing Tulagi. One aspect of the War was to politicize the Solomon's population and to create not owner a sense of self identity, but an interest in self government. And military experiences during the War
added to the political ferment. This feeling was especially strong on Malaita which was largely unaffected by the War, but many tribal militias were formed.
The British made the Solomons self-governing (1976). They became independence (1978). The independent country of the Solomon Islands is what was the British southern and eastern Solomons. The northern border with Papua New Guinea (PNG) became a source of tension after independence involving the norther Solomons that became part of PNG. PNG forces confronting secessionist action on Bougainville Island along the border crossed the border. The Solomons lodged a formal protest (1997). There have also been inter-island problems. One of the most serious developed on Guadalcanl. The Isatabu Freedom Movement, a militia organized by the indigenous Isatabus on Guadalcanal, have expelled more than 20,000 Malaitans. from the island. The Malaita isthe most populace island in the Solomons and hile located close to Guadacanal did not play an important role in the Pacific War. Many migrated to less heavily populatd Guadalcanal seeking jobs. To defend themselves from the ethnically inspired violence, the the Malaitans organized their own militia group--the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF). The MEF stole police weapons (June 2000).
Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu resigned. The MEF seized control of Honiara. The militias agreed to a cease-fire preventing what was moving toward civil war. A peace agreement was signed and elections held, but there continues to be serious break down of law and order on Guadalcanal. The prime minister asked for Australian assistance (July 2003). A 2,250-strong international peacekeeping force led by Australia arrived to restore order, disarm the militias, and build a competent police force. The Australia's intervention has by all accounts been successful. Guadalcanal cand the Solomons in general seem stanle and relativekly violence free.
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