Geography of the Solomon Islands

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The Solomon Islands are located in Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea. Its geographic coordinates are 8 00 S, 159 00 E. The Solomon Islands are strategically located on sea routes between the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea, and the Coral Sea;

Area: total: 28,896 square kilometers; land: 27,986 square kilometers; water: 910 square kilometers; ranking compared to other countries in the world: 143. It is about slightly smaller than Maryland. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Land Boundaries: total: 0 kilometers; Coastline: 5,313 kilometers; Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nautical miles; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; continental shelf: 200 nautical miles measured from claimed archipelagic baselines.

Land Use: agricultural land: 3.9 percent (2018 estimate). Arable Land: 0.7 percent (2018 estimate); permanent crops: 2.9 percent (2018 estimate); permanent pasture: 0.3 percent (2018 estimate); forest: 78.9 percent (2018 estimate); other: 17.2 percent (2018 estimate). Irrigated Land: 0 square kilometers (2022). [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Climate: tropical monsoon; few temperature and weather extremes. tropical Cyclones occur, but are rarely destructive;

Geographical Features of Solomon Islands

Topography: mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls. Elevation: highest point: Mount Popomanaseu 2,335 meters; lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 meters.

Rennell Island, the southernmost in the Solomon Islands chain, is one of the world’s largest raised coral atolls; the island’s Lake Tegano, formerly a lagoon on the atoll, is the largest lake in the insular Pacific (15,500 hectares).

Natural Hazards: geologically active region with frequent earthquakes, tremors, and volcanic activity; tsunamis

Volcanoes: Tinakula (851 meters) has frequent eruption activity, while an eruption of Savo (485 meters) could affect the capital Honiara on nearby Guadalcanal


Ocean islands are basically divided into three types: 1) "low" coral and sand islands; 2) "high" islands (usually exposed peaks and ridge-tops of submerged mountains and volcanos); and 3) parts of the continental shelf. Some continental islands were mountains and hills along the coast during last Ice Age when ocean levels were lower.

Low islands or cays were formed on coral shoals from reef sediments. Atoll islands are low islands (See Below). Seabird dropping fertilize the soils of some of these islands, which allow scrubby forest to take root. Others are battered regularly by storms and are little more than shifting piles of sand. Some patches of sand are so low they disappear during low tide and lose their status as islands.

High islands generally have better soil and a better supply of water than low islands. Low islands support only a few species of plant because there little topsoil and this soil has a high salt content. Although they often have no visible water sources they often are positioned over water lenses that trap rain water and can provide fresh water through wells.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: CIA World Factbook, 2023; “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Volume 2: Oceania,” edited by Terence E. Hays, 1991, Wikipedia, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated August 2023

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