Solomon Islands Fact Sheet

Airlines
Solomon Airlines, Qantas, Air Niugini, Air Nauru and Air Pacific operate flights to Honiara. The Solomon Airlines and Western Pacific run domestic services to the outlying islands.

Airport
Henderson Airport, 10km from the capital of Honiara on Guadalcanal.

Banking
There are branches of Westpac, ANZ and the National Bank of the Solomon Islands (NBSI) in Honiara, open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 3pm. The NBSI offers full banking services throughout most parts of the country. Credit cards and travellers cheques are not usually accepted outside the main resort areas. Travellers cheques (Visa, American Express and Thomas Cook are best) should be changed in Honiara before travelling to the outer islands.

Communication
The local radio broadcasts on 1035Hz MW, and ABC on 630kHz MW. A local television service is scheduled to arrive soon. ISD telephone, telex, fax and telegram services are provided by Solomon Telekom on Mendana Ave in Honiara, and link the islands domestically and internationally. Phonecards are widely available. The international code is 677. The main post office is off Mendana Ave, open 8am to noon, and 1 to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, as well as Saturday mornings. There is only postal delivery to post office boxes or poste restante. Local papers are the daily Solomons Star and weekly Solomons Voice.

Consulates (All embassies are based in Honiara.)
  • Australian High Commission, Mud Alley Street, PO Box 589.
  • British High Commission, PO Box 676, adjacent to the Telekom office.
  • NZ High Commission, Y Sato Building, PO Box 697.

Currency
The local currency is Solomon Island dollars (SI$). One A$ is equal to about SI$3.

Culture
The people are 95% Melanesian, with some Polynesian, Gilbertese, European and Asian influences. There is a diverse array of tribal cultures and about 90 languages and dialects. People still hold to a traditional way of life, and in more remote places, ancient traditions such as shark calling and ancestral worship are still practised. Cultural customs and traditions (known as kastom) vary from province to province, so it's advisable to ask about appropriate behaviour. Always seek permission before taking pictures of people or places. For those who want to experience local culture, some hotel restaurants feature cultural nights with local musicians and groups performing traditional song and dance. Villagers may charge kastom fees for access to attractions - normally about S$10.

Departure Tax
S$40 on departure. There is also a 10% government tax on hotel and restaurant prices.

Dress
Casual cotton clothing is ideal, with a sweater for the odd cool evening. Women should always dress modestly in public areas, and swimsuits and beach wear should be confined to resorts and pool areas.

Electricity
240 volts, available in Honiara and major resort areas.

Entry Requirements
Visitors from the US, Britain, EC and Commonwealth countries can visit for up to 30 days with a valid passport and an onward ticket. A visitors permit of up to three months can be obtained on arrival providing you have a valid passport and a return or onward ticket. Queries should be addressed to the Division of Immigration at Box G26, Honiara, Solomon islands.

Food
Most major hotels have restaurants and Honiara also has a good selection of international restaurants, including Thai, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and French. There are several restaurants that specialise in fresh local seafood such as coconut crab and lobster. Island night barbecues are held regularly by major hotels and give visitors the chance to experience local foods and culture.

Health Regulations
Malaria is the only major health problem in the Solomons. Consult your doctor several weeks before travelling to obtain malarial medication. Water is normally safe in major resorts, but it is wise to boil water in other areas.

History
It is thought the Solomons were discovered and settled by the Austronesians about 5000 years ago. The Spanish were the first Europeans to visit the islands in 1568, when the explorer Alvaro de Mendana gave them their present name. The UK established a protectorate over the islands during the 1890s. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later, on 7 July, 1978. Some of the bloodiest battles of World War II took place here, and today, there are some fascinating military relics dating from this time.

Language
English and pidgin English (Solomon Island Pijin) are the main languages but there are about 90 indigenous languages and dialects spoken throughout the islands.

Medical Services
There are hospital services in major centres, as well some 130 medical clinics and aid posts throughout the country. Basic medical services are free. Dental services can be found in Honiara, Auki and Gizo. There are two dispensing chemists in Honiara which sell malaria tablets without prescription.

Politics
The islands became fully independent of Britain in 1978, and a parliamentary democracy was established. The national parliament consists of a single chamber of 50 elected members who are presided over by a speaker. The government administers nine provinces - Choiseul, Western, Isabel, Guadalcanal, Rennell & Bellona, Malaita, Makira and Temotu. Each province has its own provincial government headed by an elected premier. It serves for a 4-year term. The Solomons is a member of the Commonwealth and the British Crown is head of state.

Religion
Christianity is the most widespread religion (95%). 24% are members fo the Church of Melanesisa, 20% are Roman Catholic. Other denominations include Bahai, Jehovah's Witness and Seventh Day Eventist.

Shopping
The capital of Honiara is the country's key shopping centre and has a wide cross-section of goods, crafts and duty-free outlets. Artefacts and handcrafts can be bought from local artisans throughout the islands as well as souvenir outlets in Honiara. They include carvings, pottery, bukaware weaving, baskets, hats and mats, ebony carvings, inlaid bowls and shell jewellery. There are also several colourful outdoor markets in Honiara. Shops in town open 8.30am to 5pm, Monday-Friday, and until noon on Saturday. There are a handful of 24hr stores.

Sport and Recreation
Diving, snorkelling and game fishing are the most popular activities in the Solomons, but there are plenty of water-based sports including yachting, swimming, surfing, waterskiing, windsurfing, canoeing and sea kayaking. In Honiara, there is an 18-hole golfcourse, tennis and squash.

Tipping
Tipping is not encouraged as hospitality is considered a matter of pride in the Melanesian culture.

Transport (Domestic)
Honiara public buses run along the main road, Mendana Avenue. A destination card is displayed on the front window. Cabs are not metered but they can be flagged down in the street (or booked). It is best to negotiate the fare before the journey begins. Solomon Airlines offers regular flights to all provinces and most resort areas. Heli Solomons/Air Transport Ltd operate helicopters from Henderson Airport on Guadalcanal.

Visitor Information
Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau
PO Box 321
Honiara
Located bside Mendana Hotel. Open Monday to Friday 8am to 4.30pm and 9am to noon Saturday.