Traveling Luck for Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is located in Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea.

Land in Solomon Islands is mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls.

Solomon Islander land covers an area of 28450 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Maryland

As for the Solomon Islander climate; tropical monsoon; few extremes of temperature and weather.

Solomon Islander(s) speak Melanesian pidgin in much of the country is lingua franca; English is official but spoken by only 1%-2% of the population
note: 120 indigenous languages.

Places of note in Solomon Islands

Solomon Islander National Map

Solomon Islander Map

Regions of Solomon Islands

The UK established a protectorate over the Solomon Islands in the 1890s. Some of the bitterest fighting of World War II occurred on these islands. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. Ethnic violence, government malfeasance, and endemic crime have undermined stability and civil society. In June 2003, Prime Minister Sir Allen KEMAKEZA sought the assistance of Australia in reestablishing law and order; the following month, an Australian-led multinational force arrived to restore peace and disarm ethnic militias. The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has been very effective in restoring law and order and rebuilding government institutions.


Solomon Islands Country Profile

The bulk of the population depends on agriculture, fishing, and forestry for at least part of its livelihood. Most manufactured goods and petroleum products must be imported. The islands are rich in undeveloped mineral resources such as lead, zinc, nickel, and gold. Prior to the arrival of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), severe ethnic violence, the closing of key businesses, and an empty government treasury culminated in economic collapse. RAMSI has enabled a return to law and order, a new period of economic stability, and modest growth as the economy rebuilds.

Solomon Islander natural resources include fish, forests, gold, bauxite, phosphates, lead, zinc, nickel

strategic location on sea routes between the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea, and the Coral Sea

Solomon Islander religion is Church of Melanesia 32.8%, Roman Catholic 19%, South Seas Evangelical 17%, Seventh-Day Adventist 11.2%, United Church 10.3%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.4%, other Christian 4.4%, other 2.4%, unspecified 0.3%, none 0.2% (1999 census).

Natural hazards in Solomon Islands include typhoons, but rarely destructive; geologically active region with frequent earth tremors; volcanic activity.

Travel Advice on Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary and Natural Disasters (Tropical Storm 04P) section.  The overall level of the advice has not changed

SUMMARY

  • Political tensions in the Solomon Islands are high.  Although there has been no repeat of the wide-scale civil unrest, which took place in the Solomon Islands in April 2006, the security situation in and around the Capital, Honiara remains uncertain and could deteriorate at short notice.

  • There was a sharp increase in criminal activity in Honiara in September and October 2006, including reports of robbery and rape.  There has also been an increase in armed gang violence, particularly in the vicinity of Lungga, Kola Ridge and the Burns Creek area in East Honiara including the Ranandi industrial centre.  Foreigners and expatriates may be particularly attractive targets for violence.

  • If you are visiting, or are resident in the Solomon Islands, you should exercise caution at all times and maintain a high state of personal awareness.  We strongly advise you to ensure that you are comfortable with, and regularly review your own and your family's security arrangements.  You should take up to date advice about day trips or travel around the area close to Honiara, refrain from travelling around Honiara at night and avoid public gatherings and large crowds.

  • The Solomon Islands is in the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and subject to earthquakes.

  • The threat from terrorism in the Solomon Islands is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • Tropical cyclone 04P is reported to be heading towards the island of San Cristobal in the southern Solomon Islands and is expected to make landfall on 2 December 2006. The tropical cyclone season in the Solomon Islands normally runs from November to May. Please see the Natural Disasters section of this Travel Advice and Hurricanes for more information.

  • Very few British nationals visit the Solomon Islands each year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in the Solomon Islands is for replacing lost passports.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has limited resources and response times to calls for assistance are likely to be slow.  There was a sharp increase in criminal activity in Honiara in September and October 2006, including reports of robbery and rape.  There has been violence against the police in the Koa Hill area east of Honiara There has also been an increase in armed gang violence, particularly in the vicinity of Lungga, Kola Ridge and the Burns Creek area in East Honiara including the Ranandi industrial centre.  There is also the potential for trouble due to civil unrest and drunken behaviour.  Foreigners and expatriates may be particularly attractive targets for violence.  You should take security precautions at all times in Honiara, and maintain a high state of personal awareness.  You should also avoid travel around Honiara at night, where possible.  There are still some guns held illegally in the community and a consequent risk of armed robberies and intimidation.  If you plan to visit rural Guadalcanal, take day trips outside Honiara or visit the island of Malaita you are advised to check the latest advice with the British High Commission.  Visits to other provinces in the Solomon Islands are generally trouble-free.

Political Situation

Political tensions in the Solomon Islands are high.  Wide-scale civil unrest took place in the Solomon Islands between 18 and 22 April 2006.  Rioting resulted in 90% of China Town and several other buildings in the capital Honiara, including one major hotel (the Pacific Casino Hotel), being destroyed.  On 4 May, Members of the Solomon Islands Parliament elected a new Prime Minister who appealed for calm in the country.  Although there has not been a repeat of these civil disturbances, the security situation in and around the Capital, Honiara remains uncertain and could deteriorate at short notice.  You should exercise caution and avoid public gatherings and large crowds and monitor local information sources.
Local Travel

Inter-island travel is by air to mainly grass and coral airstrips, or by ferryboats.

Road Safety

There are few roads in the Solomon Islands, 90% of these are on Guadalcanal and Malaita.  Only a few of the main roads are of reasonable quality.  The rest are very heavily potholed and in some areas the bridges have collapsed.  Standards of driving and vehicle maintenance are poor.  Be especially careful when overtaking any vehicle.  Solomon Islanders chew betel nut and frequently open vehicle doors, including on the driver's side, when travelling at speed, in order to spit out the juice onto the road.

Air Safety

Air safety has been good but reliability of services can be patchy and cancellations occur.  Visitors with international connections should note and plan accordingly.

Sea Safety

Ferry services are usually crowded and safety regulations not always strictly applied.  It is advisable to bring your own lifejacket if contemplating sea journeys.  Journeys to small and/or remote islands are usually in small-motorised “canoes”.
Salt-water crocodiles are native to parts of the Solomon Islands, and there have been sightings on beaches.  Local advice should be sought before entering unfamiliar waters, including lakes.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Drug use is illegal in the Solomons, and can lead to prison sentences.  Swearing is a crime and can lead to large compensation claims and even jail.

Dress codes, particularly for women, are modest and you will gain respect by dressing appropriately.  In certain areas there are ‘taboo’ sites only visited by men.

Solomon Islanders do not object to being photographed but you should ask permission first.

Land ownership in the Solomon Islands is an important and sensitive issue.  Walking and trekking off the beaten track, therefore, may require payment of a “kastom” fee to the landowner.

Homosexuality is illegal in many Pacific countries, including the Solomon Islands.  Open displays of affection between same-sex partners may offend local inhabitants and you could face a prison term if you are found guilty of committing homosexual acts.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Visas are not required for British nationals visiting the Solomons.  You should have at least six months validity on your own passport, and be in possession of a return or onward ticket.  We strongly advise all British nationals (including those residing in the Solomon Islands) to obtain a multi-entry visa for Australia.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  For the Solomon Islands this should include a provision for medical evacuation.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance
Medical facilities are very basic throughout the Solomon Islands.  There are limited hospital facilities and medical supplies are not always available. Doctors are few and far between.  You should take a basic medical kit with you when visiting rural and remote areas.  Scuba divers should be aware that there is now a hyperbaric (decompression) chamber in Honiara.  Registered dive operators can provide information on access arrangements.
Malaria is endemic in the Solomon Islands and Hepatitis A and typhoid also occur.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets. However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Solomon Islands.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk
NATURAL DISASTERS
Tropical cyclone 04P reported to be heading towards the island of San Cristobal in the southern Solomon Islands and is expected to make landfall on 2 December 2006.The tropical cyclone season in the Solomon Islands normally runs from November to May.  You should monitor local and international weather updates form the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).  You can also access http://www.nhc.noaa.gov for updates.  Please also see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a tropical cyclone.

The Solomon Islands are a part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire"; earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic activity can occur at any time.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.

You should register with the British High Commission on arrival (if necessary via your hotel reception).

The British High Commission in Honiara does not issue passports.  Applications for a new passport should be submitted to the High Commission for processing.  Where possible, you are advised to apply at least two months before your passport is due to expire.  You should be aware that you will not be allowed to retain your old passport whilst waiting for the replacement to be processed and returned.

Urgent applications will be forwarded by commercial courier to the British High Commission in Canberra, and the courier cost will be added to the passport fee.  You should be aware that our High Commissions will process your application as quickly as possible but, due to the distances involved, it is likely that there will be a delay in issuing you with a full replacement British Passport.  Less urgent applications will be forwarded to Canberra via the Diplomatic bag free of charge.

Where necessary the High Commission will issue an Emergency Passport.  Emergency Passports are valid for a single journey back to the UK using agreed transit points as necessary, or to Commonwealth countries provided a prior arrangement exists with the authorities of the Commonwealth country concerned.

The High Commission will be able to advise you which of these options best suits your circumstances.

There are three banks operating in the Solomon Islands, but banking facilities outside the major towns are non existent.  There are a small number of ATMs in the Solomon Islands and it is proposed that one will shortly be at Honiara Airport.  Current experience is that these operate efficiently.

There is a GSM phone service in the Solomon Islands.  Coverage, however, is limited and you should contact your service provider for further details.  Solomon Telekom offer a hire service for their mobile phones.

There are a few internet cafes in Honiara; costs range from SB$12 (£0.80) to SB$46 (£3.20) per hour.


OTHER

Solomon Islands Country Profile