Solomon Islands is an island nation-state (sovereign country) with 6 major islands plus 900+ smaller isles. The Solomons are in Oceania (Pacific Ocean) to the northwest of Vanuatu and east of PNG-Papua New Guinea. The country has total land area approx 28,400 km2 (11,000 mi2) and population around 645,000.
The country's capital city Honiara is on Guadalcanal Island. The country took its name from the Solomon archipelago - a collection of Melanesian islands also including North Solomon Islands (part of PNG), but excluding the outlying islands (like Santa Cruz and Rennell-Bellona).
The Solomons' first European - the Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendana (1542-1595) - arrived in 1568 and named them "Islas Salomon". In June 1893, Britain defined its area of interest in the islands archipelago when Captain Gibson R.N. (HMS Curacoa) declared Southern Solomons a British protectorate. During WW2 (1939-45), the Solomon Islands campaign saw fierce fighting between the Empire of Japan (1868-1945) and the USA, such as in the Battle of Guadalcanal.
In 1975, the official name of this British overseas territory was converted from "British Solomon Islands Protectorate" to "Solomon Islands". Self-government was reached in 1976, while independence was obtained in 1978. Currently, the Solomons is a constitutional monarchy with the UK's Queen being also the Queen of Solomon Islands.
Tourism, particularly scuba diving and snorkelling, is a major industry for the Solomons. However, tourism growth is complicated by transportation limitations and lack of infrastructure.
Solomon Islands courts re-approved the live dolphins' export for profit, most recently to Dubai UAE. In 2004, this practice was initially stopped by the government after international uproar over shipment of live dolphins to Mexico. This move resulted in criticism from Australia, New Zealand and a number of conservation organisations.