Political Status: Former British-administered territory; achieved internal self-government on January 2, 1976, and full independence within the Commonwealth on July 7, 1978.

Area: 10,639 sq. mi. (27,556 sq. km.).

Population: 409,042 (1999C); 504,000 (2007E).

Major Urban Center (2005E): HONIARA (61,000).

Official Language: English (Solomons Pidgin is the effective lingua franca).

Monetary Unit: Solomon Dollar (official rate November 1, 2008: 7.66 dollars = $1US).

Sovereign: Queen ELIZABETH II.

Governor General: Sir Nathaniel WAENA; elected by the National Parliament on June 15, 2004, and sworn in on July 7 for a five-year term, succeeding Sir John Ini LAPLI.

Prime Minister: Dr. Derek SIKUA (independent); elected by the National Parliament on December 20, 2007, succeeding Manasseh Damukana SOGAVARE (Solomon Islands Social Credit Party), who had failed a nonconfidence vote on December 13.

The Country

The Solomons comprise a ...

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