General issues: British Solomon Islands/British protectorate 1907-1942, British Solomon Islands/British protectorate 1943-1975, Solomon Islands/British protectorate 1975-1976, Solomon Islands/Self government 1976-1978, Solomon Islands/Independent within the British Commonwealth 1978-Present
Country name on general issues: British Solomon Islands, Solomon Islands
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1907-1966, 1 (Australian) Dollar = 100 Cents 1966-1977, 1 (Solomon) Dollar = 100 Cents 1977-Present
Population: 150 000 in 1911, 622 000 in 2015
Political history Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands are located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. As a political entity, the Solomon Islands consist of the central and southern parts of the Solomon Islands archipelago and a number of outlying islands, including the Santa Cruz Islands. The population is largely Melanesian. The first Europeans to explore the islands were the Spanish in the 16th century, but it would take until the late 18th century before the islands were properly charted by British and French sailors. The Germans were the first Europeans to claim part of the Solomon Islands archipelago when they annexed the northern Solomon Islands as part of the German colony of German New Guinea in 1884. The British established a protectorate over the central and southern Solomon Islands in 1893 – the British Solomon Islands protectorate. The outlying islands were annexed to the British Solomon Islands in subsequent years. In 1899, the British and the Germans defined the borders as we now them today – Germany ceding part of the northern Solomon Islands to Britain in exchange for British concessions elsewhere in the world.
At the outbreak of WWII, most of the British Solomon Islands were occupied by the Japanese in 1942. United States forces launched a counter offensive in 1942-1943 and regained many of the islands, although fighting continued until the end of the war. During the war, military administration was established. Civilian administration was restored in 1945.
In the 1970’s, the British Solomon Islands moved towards independence. The name was changed to Solomon Islands in 1975, self government was granted in 1976 and independence within the British Commonwealth was gained in 1978. After two decades of relative stability, ethnic violence erupted in 1999. Further political and economic turmoil led to an intervention by the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands in 2003 – a mission in which forces from Australia, New Zealand and six other Pacific countries participated. The intervention stabilized the country and intervention forces left the Solomon Islands in 2013.
Economically, the population largely depends on subsistence agriculture and fishing. Cash crops are coconuts, palm oil and cocoa. Timber is the main export product. The Solomon Islands is a less developed country, in terms of per capita GDP, ranking 205th out of 230 countries in the world. The vast majority – 95% – of the population is Melanesian with small minorities of Micronesian and Polynesian descent.
Postal history Solomon Islands
The first mail was sent from the British Solomon Islands via the resident commissioner in 1896. Stamps of New South Wales were used and mail was cancelled in Sydney. The first stamps were issued in 1907 – concurrent with the opening of the first post office. Until 1911, when the British Solomon Islands joined the UPU, the stamps were valid for domestic mail only. International mail required additional franking with New South Wales stamps. The first issues, in 1907 and 1908, feature a local war canoe. Issues from 1913 and throughout the classical period use designs common to the British colonies – some larger pictorial sets with themes of local interest. The British Solomon Islands joined in a number of omnibus issues for the British Empire. Civil postal services came to a standstill after the Japanese occupation in 1942. The first post office was reopened in 1943.
In 1975, the first stamps were issued inscribed just ‘Solomon Islands’. Since independence, the Solomon Islands have issued a blend of stamps with themes of national interest and themes aimed at the thematic collectors market.