About Solomon Islands


Youth literacy (2009)


of the population is unemployed (1999)


Youth unemployment (1999)


years is the life expectancy (1999)


infant mortality per 1,000 live births (2009)


is the population growth rate

Human Development since Independence

 Honiara, Solomon Islands. Photo: UNDP/Sheryl Ho


Since independence Solomon Islands has struggled to maximise its development potential but still remains a Least Developed Country (LDC). There has been no rapid development similar to island states such as Singapore or Macau but rather the country has progressed in small, measured steps. Its HDI presently is 135 out of 177 in 2009 a change from 121 out of 174 in 2000.

But progress did not benefit every citizen alike. The main reason for this is that leaders may not have taken advantage of the full array of development choices (education to improve the human capital of the country, private sector development, inclusive economic growth) available to them. A development leadership distanced from its people has meant that democratic reforms are being implemented more slowly than might be possible and a newly emerging democratic voice only sporadically heard. Growth of the media has allowed many citizens to hear Government at first hand via the increased numbers of radio and TV sets available to them. Feedback mechanisms however, where citizens can relay opinions and comments back to the Government, are being developed more slowly like for instance independent surveys conducted by the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Since independence, Solomon Islands has maintained its traditional belief and tribal structures, based around the tribe and the clan, which run in parallel to systems encoded in civil law. Solomon Islands can be described as having both a modern civil code system, with a Parliament and an independent Judiciary, and a customary legal system, which can lead to conflicts of interest at the level of the hierarchy of law.

In the area of education Solomon Islands has something to celebrate with educational improvements being made steadily through the 1990s and beyond. Functional literacy is relatively high, whichever definition is being used. It is likely that Solomon Islands will achieve the Millennium Development Goals in countries know, managing a country is not an easy task, with competing requests for resources, time and allocations. Some stakeholders are disappointed, feel disenfranchised and take their frustrations out on other (usually less powerful) groups. Where democratic systems are not able to cope with this (often rapid) change in relations, conflicts can occur. These conflicts can be devastating as they can stop human development in its tracks; at worst, conflict can push development back to levels seen in earlier years, a setback no country can afford. Solomon Islands has gone through such a conflict and feels the effects even today.

Conflict and Natural Disasters

One cross cutting issue that has impacted Solomon Islands is ethnic conflict. From 1999 to 2003 an ethnic conflict contributed to an almost total breakdown of democratic law, principles and governance and showed how fragile development gains can be. With the arrival of RAMSI law and order was quickly restored but remnants of the causes of the conflict still appear today. Policies and programmes relating to reducing violence stemming from conflict are still in their infancy and need to be strengthened.

Disaster mitigation is a second cross cutting issue that must be addressed. The results of natural disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami in April 2007 in Solomon Islands can be, and indeed largely has been, devastating to a small island state, pushing back development progress by years.


As a member of the United Nations, Solomon Islands endorsed the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted in the year 2000, recognizing the rights and protection of women in conflict and post conflict contexts. In the year 2002, Solomon Islands ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). However, being a woman in post independence Solomon Islands has meant receiving different life chances than those of most men. On the positive side women generally live longer. But not only are women less likely to have advanced formal schooling, they are less likely to be fully literate, less likely to have paid employment, more likely to have earning disadvantages for the same job and have less chance of getting a job at the level they wish. Women rarely fill jobs at the senior levels. The recent Solomon Islands cabinet sworn in August/September has no women at all, though women hold some senior offices in other Government posts.

Source: Solomon Islands MDGs Report 2010.

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