Island chain and nation of six large and many small island s, in a 900-mi chain, in the W Pacific, E of New Guinea. The island s include Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and New Georgia island s. Bougainville and Buka, however are part of Papua New Guinea. Honiara, on Guadalcanal, is the capital. Discovered by Alvaro de Mendana of Spain in 1567, they were next seen by Europeans on Louis Bougainville’s visit in 1768. D’Urville’s arrival between 1837 and 1840 was then followed by visits from missionaries and traders from 1845 to 1893.
An 1886 agreement completed in 1899 divided the island s between Great Britain and Germany.
With the outbreak of World War I the German group was taken by the Australians in 1914 and became part of the Australian mand ate under the League of Nations in 1920, as a portion of the Trust Territory of New Guinea. Mostly occupied by the Japanese during World War II, they were the scene of a bloody battle beginning August 7, 1942, when the U.S. forces land ed, eventually occupying Guadalcanal in February 1943. The island s were under the British until 1976 when they became self-governing and achieved independence in 1978. Ethnic strife broke out on Guadalcanal in 1999, as locals fought with immigrants from the island of Malaita.
In 2000, the Malaita militia took Prime Minister Ulufa’alu hostage, who later resigned under duress.
In 2000 after new elections, Sir Allan Kemakeza was elected prime minister, but the continued fighting bankrupted the nation. In 2003, an Australian-led peacekeeping force stopped the fighting and disarmed the combatants.