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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • An island group of the western Pacific Ocean east of New Guinea. Inhabited primarily by Melanesian peoples since at least 2000 B.C., these volcanic islands were first visited by European explorers in the 1560s and were divided between Germany and Great Britain in the late 19th century. Australia assumed control of the northern islands in 1920. Today the northern Solomons are part of Papua New Guinea. The southern islands are an independent country.
  • A country comprising the Solomon Islands southeast of Bougainville. European planters and missionaries began arriving in the 18th and 19th centuries. The southern islands became a British protectorate in 1893, which later extended to the northern group. The islands became self-governing in 1976 and achieved independence in 1978. Honiara, on Guadalcanal Island, is the capital. Population: 567,000.


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