561,000 (2013); 21 per cent of people live in urban areas; growth 2.6 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 31 per 1,000 people (46 in 1970); life expectancy 68 years (54 in 1970).
About 95 per cent of the people are Melanesian, three per cent Polynesian and one per cent Micronesian (1999 census). There is a small expatriate population.
The official language is English; an English-based Creole, Pidgin, is the most widely spoken language. There are more than 80 indigenous languages.
Mainly Christians (Church of Melanesia 32 per cent, Roman Catholics 20 per cent, South Seas Evangelicals 17 per cent, Seventh Day Adventists 12 per cent, United Church ten per cent; 2009 census).
Public spending on health was eight per cent of GDP in 2012. The government runs six hospitals, as well as clinics and clinical aid posts. The churches run two hospitals as well as clinics. Some 81 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source and 29 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). Infant mortality was 25 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (120 in 1960). Malaria remains the main health problem.
Public spending on education was 9.9 per cent of GDP in 2010. There are six years of primary education and seven years of secondary, with cycles of three and four years. The school year starts in January.
Solomon Islands College of Higher Education offers teacher training; finance, nursing and secretarial studies; and a range of technical subjects related to Solomon Islands’ economy such as marine and fisheries studies, forestry and agriculture. The college also gives some first-year university courses. Solomon Islands is a partner in the regional University of the South Pacific, which has its main campus in Suva, Fiji, and a campus in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Solomon Star is a daily newspaper, and Solomon Times and Solomons Voice are weekly.
Radio is the main source of information for most people. Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation provides a national public radio service.
There are 46 personal computers per 1,000 people (2005).
Country code 677; internet domain ‘.sb’. Mobile phone coverage is limited to Honiara, Gizo and Munda. There are a few internet cafes in Honiara and Gizo.
For every 1,000 people there are 14 landlines, 576 mobile phone subscriptions and 80 internet users (2013).
New Year’s Day, Queen’s Official Birthday (June), Independence Day (7 July), Christmas Day and National Day of Thanksgiving (26 December). Each province has its own holiday, some of which continue for several days.
Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday, Easter Monday and Whit Monday.