Wreck Diving Magazine

Wrecks of the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands consist of a chain of lush, reef-fringed islands stretching for more than 600 miles from Papua New Guinea, through the southwest Pacific, towards Vanuatu. The land area of the Solomon Islands is around 11,000 square miles comprised largely of six major islands: Choiseul, Santa Isabel, New Georgia, Guadalcanal, Malaita, and San Cristobel. It also includes the Santa Cruz archipelago to the southeast. The rest of the country is made up of 900 smaller islands and coral atolls scattered throughout the main group of islands. The larger islands are mostly covered in rugged, mountainous terrain with thick, tropical rainforests and fast-flowing rivers and creeks.

The Solomon Islands have been inhabited for at least 5000 years. Honiara is the capital of this island nation and is located on the island of Guadalcanal.

After WWII, Honiara grew into a commercial hub. Honiara International Airport is situated on the remains of a WWII airstrip. Initially, it was built by the Japanese and known as Lunga Airfield. During the war after a fierce struggle, the Americans captured, reconstructed and renamed it Henderson Field and it still retains this name today.

Honiara Seaport is situated on the small peninsula of Point Cruz, named by the Spanish explorer Alvaro De Mendana, who landed there during the voyage on which he discovered and named the islands, “Isles of Solomon,” in 1568. He named it after discovering a few indications of gold, thinking he found the source of King Solomon’s great wealth.

Long before the western world visitors came, the people of the Solomon Islands were known for headhunting and cannibalism. In the early 1800s the Solomon Islands became a source of slaves for a type of slavery known as “Blackbirding,” when ship-owners captured slaves to work on sugar cane plantations in Queensland and Fiji. Many Solomon Islanders were taken by ship against their will or were killed when they fought back. When white missionaries began visiting the islands, they were killed by the natives in retaliation for “Blackbirding.” The killing of Anglican Bishop John Patterson caught the attention of the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom declared a protectorate over the southern Solomons in June 1893 and renamed the islands the British Solomon Islands. Under the British Solomon Island Protectorate, the missionaries settled in the Solomon Islands, converting most of the population to Christianity.

In August 1942, world attention was again focused on the Solomon Islands when Guadalcanal and adjacent islands, virtually unknown to the outside world, became the centre of an intense, bloody, six-month battle between American and Japanese military forces, known as

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