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The Solomon Islands consist of two chains of islands running southwest of Papua New Guinea, in the South Pacific. The islands have a large total landmass -28,450 sq km (10,985 sq miles) with a population of about 455,000 people. Inhabited by Melanesian peoples since about 1000 B.C. they received their name from Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mandana who visited them in 1568 believing he had found “the riches of Solomon.” He later returned to establish a colony but it was short-lived, as were subsequent attempts at colonization. In the 1870s and 1880s several islanders were induced to work on Australian sugar plantations causing Britain to step in and establish a protectorate over the islands in 1893. The British were replaced by the Germans who subsequently lost control to the Australians at the beginning of the First World War. During the Second World War the Japanese occupied the Solomon Islands and were the scene of many battles between the Allies and the Imperial Japanese. Full independence from Britain was gained in 1978 and the Solomon Islands are today a constitutional monarchy with a single legislative body known as the National Parliament. However, the political and economic scenes are unstable.
Subsistence farming is the basis for the economy though some food is produced for export and fishing, primarily for tuna, is an important economic factor. Forestry is an important export but lumber is being exported at unsustainable levels. The government is insolvent and dependent on foreign aid.
The English-speaking population is largely Protestant with high number of Anglicans (34%) and Baptists (17%). The Roman Catholic tradition numbers almost 20% of the population.
The a cappella Churches of Christ began work in the Solomon Islands through correspondence courses in the 1970s. Robert Martin and later Edwin Crookshank (then living in Vanuatu) began in about 1980 to make periodic visits to the Solomon Islands to nurture the young converts. John Hall, Randy Hall and Toby Huff have also made periodic visits. Some of the visits have been overseen by the Ashdown, Arkansas church. Among the first converts was Bartholomew Nyisa. Because public meetings by missionaries is forbidden by the local government those visiting the islands must hold study sessions in hotels rather than evangelistic meetings. In 1990 a church in Honiara consisting of twelve members was meeting irregularly in the Honiara Hotel.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.