The Solomons are mountainous and heavily wooded. The inhabitants are largely Melanesians, although some Polynesians live in the outlying atolls. About one third of the people belong to the Church of Melanesia, and there are minorities of Roman Catholics and other Christian denominations. English is the official language, but a Melanesian pidgin is the lingua franca; there are about 120 indigenous languages.
Farming, fishing, and forestry are the main occupations. Cocoa beans, coconuts, palm kernels, rice, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit are grown. Economic development has been slow, and industry is limited to fish processing, mining, and lumbering, with the last contributing most to the nation's economy. There are large undeveloped mineral resources. By the 1990s, logging levels had become unsustainable and the government instituted regulatory legislation, but large-scale logging was nonetheless expected exhaust the nation's forests sometime in the 2010s. Timber, fish, coconut products, palm oil, and cocoa are the main exports, while foodstuffs, machinery, manufactured goods, fuels, and chemicals are imported. The main trading partners are China, Australia, and South Korea.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.