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Definition: Honiara from The Macquarie Dictionary

the capital of the Solomon Islands in the southern Pacific, on Guadalcanal Island.

Summary Article: HONIARA
from Capital Cities around the World: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture

Honiara is the capital and largest city of the Solomon Islands, a country of many islands in Oceania to the east of Papua New Guinea. Honiara is on the north shore of Guadalcanal Island, one of the larger and more central islands in the Solomon Islands chain. The city's population was counted at 49,107 in the 1999 census and estimated at 78,190 in 2009. The name “Honiara” is translated from one of the local languages as meaning “facing the southeast wind.”

Historical Overview

The Solomon Islands have been inhabited by Melanesia people for many centuries. The first European to visit was the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendañain in 1568 who gave the islands their name (Islas Salomón). Christian missionaries began visiting the islands in the 19th century. In 1893, the islands became a protectorate of Great Britain. Coconut plantations were the basis of the European economy. During World War II, the islands were the scene of fierce battles between Japanese and Allied forces, with great loss of life on both the sides. The Battle of Guadalcanal, also known as the Guadalcanal campaign, was fought between August 7, 1942 and February 9, 1943 and resulted in an important strategic Allied victory.

Honiara was made the capital of the Solomon Islands in 1952, replacing Tulagi on Florida Island that had been the British administrative center. Independence from the United Kingdom was achieved on July 7, 1978. In the 1990s and 2000s the islands were torn by civil unrest and ethnic violence, with much of Honiara's Chinatown neighborhood destroyed in April 2006 by rioters angry at the alleged overly large influence of Chinese businessmen on national government. Australian troops are still in place to help keep peace. The Solomon Islands ranks as one of the world's poorest countries, with more than three-quarters of the population engaged in subsistence farming or fishing.

Major Landmarks

The Guadalcanal American Memorial and the Japanese War Memorial on Mt. Austin are perhaps the most important landmarks in the Honiara area. There are also other monuments related to World War II battles in the city and elsewhere on Guadalcanal. Other landmarks are Government House, the National Museum, botanical gardens, the yacht club, and the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau.

Culture and Society

About 95 percent of the people of the Solomon Islands are Melanesian and 3 percent Polynesian. There is a minority of Chinese people as well, most prominently in Honiara. Some 97 percent of the population is Christian, reflecting more than 100 years of active foreign missionary work on the islands. The official language of the Solomon Islands is English, although there are 70 local languages spoken as well. The people of the Solomon Islands are torn awkwardly between traditional society and influences from abroad, and strive for a healthy balance between the two. Honiara has a high crime rate. Foreign tourists are especially targeted by muggers.

Further Reading
  • Dinnen, Sinclair; Stewart Firth, eds. Politics and State Building in Solomon Islands. Australian National University Canberra, 2008.
  • McDonald, Ross. Money Makes You Crazy: Custom and Change in the Contemporary Solomon Islands. University of Otago Press Dunedin NZ, 2003.
  • Copyright 2013 by Roman Adrian Cybriwsky

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