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torstai 20. lokakuuta 2016

New Zealand, Cool Facts #156

 <= 155. Tuvalu                                                                                                          157. Australia =>

1. New Zealand's Name 

First European in New Zealand
Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to see New Zealand in 1642. Tasman called it Staten Landt, thinking that it was connected to a landmass of the same name in the southern tip of South America.

Dutch cartographers
In 1645 Dutch cartographers renamed the area Nova Zeelandia after the Dutch province of Zeeland.
James Cook anglicized the name Nova Zeelandia to New Zealand. Cook mapped almost the entire coastline of New Zealand in 1769.

Maori names: 

New Zealand = Aotearoa (land of the white cloud)
North Island = Te Ika-a-Maui (the fish of Maui)
South Island = Te Waipounamu (the waters of greenstone)
Stewart Island = Rakiura

Cook's map of New Zealand
New Zealand from space

2. Sinking of the Greenpeace boat Rainbow Warrior

French nuclear test in Moruroa
In 1985 Greenpeace's ship Rainbow Warrior was on its way to Moruroa in French Polynesia to protest against French nuclear testing.

Opération Satanique
Rainbow Warrior was then sinked in the port of Auckland by the French foreign intelligence service agents. France denied responsibility first, but as the truth was revealed it led to the resignation of the French Defense Mininster Charles Hernu. The agents had planted two bombs in the ship and it caused the death of the Portuguese-Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira.

French agents
The two agents pleaded guilty for manslaughter and they got a ten year sentence in prison, but they were freed after only two years by the French government.

Foreign relations 
This event worsened the relations between France and New Zealand. France apologized and paid compensation to New Zealand and to the relatives of Fernando Pereira. The foreign and defense policy of New Zealand changed after the event. New Zealand distanced itself from USA and built stronger relations with Australia and the small nations in the Pacific.

Nuclear weapon legislation
New Zealand banned all nuclear-powered or ships carrying nuclear weapons in its territorial waters in 1985. Two years later in 1987 New Zealand was declared a nuclear-free zone.

Fernando Pereira 
Sinking Rainbow Warrior

3. New Zealand's Military Presence 

Despite the small population New Zealand has had a strong global presence in military campaigns.

World War I
- New Zealand had a fighting force of about 103,000 people from the population of just over a million
- 18,500 soldiers died
- 41,000 soldiers wounded

World War II
- New Zealand played key parts in the naval Battle of the River Plate and the Battle of Britain air campaign
- USA had more than 400,000 military personnel stationed in New Zealand

Wars with New Zealand Forces

Second Boer War 1899-1902
World War I 1914-1918
World War II 1939-1945
Malayan Emergency 1948-1960
Korean War 1950-1953
Vietnam War 1955-1975
Gulf War 1990-1991
Afghanistan War 2001-2014

Peacekeeping missions with New Zealand Forces

Bosnia and Herzegovina
East Timor
Iran-Iraq border
Solomon Islands

NZLAV at Tekapo Military Camp

New Zealand and Australian military personnel boarding a US navy helicopter during a humanitarian aid mission to Solomon Islands in 2007
Royal New Zealand Navy ships in Cook Strait

4. Realm of New Zealand

The realm of New Zealand is the entire area in which the Queen of New Zealand is head of state. Cook Islands and Niue are in free association with New Zealand, it means that they are self-governing, but New Zealand takes care of their foreign affairs and defense. Tokelau is a dependent area, which is going towards free association. The Ross Dependency in Antarctica is an uninhabited area, that New Zealand has claimed. Most countries don't recognize territorial claims in Antarctica. 

New Zealand proper: 

North Island
South Island
Chatham Islands
Kermadec Islands

Areas in free association with New Zealand
Cook Islands (in free association since 1965) 

Niue (in free association since 1974) 

New Zealand territory 

Ross Dependency (in Antarctica) 

Realm of New Zealand

5. Geographic isolation 

Human settlement 
New Zealand was one of the last major landmasses settled by humans. It's estimated that New Zealand was settled by Eastern Polynesians somewhere between 1250 and 1300.

New Zealand's geographic isolation for 80 million years has influence the country's animals, plants and fungi. About 82% of New Zealand's vascular plants are endemic. It's estimated that there are about 2300 species of lichen-forming fungi and 40% of these are endemic.

An estimated 80% of the land was covered in forest before the arrival of humans. The forests were dominated by birds like kiwi, kakapo, weka and takahe, which evolved flightlessness because there were no mammalian predators. When humans arrived, the amount of forests declined and many animals became extinct like the moa and Haast's eagle.

More penguin species are found in New Zealand than in any other country. One third of the seabirds that breed in New Zealand are unique to the country. Almost half of the world's cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are reported in New Zealand waters. There are also a lot of fur seals.

Extinction facts since the arrival of humans
- 50% of the vertebrate species
- 52 birds
- 3 frogs
- 3 lizards
- 1 freshwater fish
- 1 bat

Penguins in New Zealand
Haast's eagle attacking moa
Possible migration routes


1250-1300 New Zealand was settled by Eastern Polynesians who developed their own Maori culture
1642 Dutch Abel Tasman visited New Zealand as the first European
1769 James Cook mapped almost the entire coastline of New Zealand
1800s Christian missionaries started settling New Zealand and converting the Maori people
1835 An independent Maori state was established before the islands became a British colony
1840 Treaty of Waitangi, Captain William Hobson declared British sovereignty over all of New Zealand
1841 The Colony of New Zealand became separate from the colony of New South Wales
1845-1872 New Zealand Wars between the New Zealand government and indigenous Maori
1865 The capital city was removed from Auckland to Wellington 
1893 New Zealand became the first country to grant all women the right to vote
1898 New Zealand got free healthcare, primary education and the first general pensions scheme in the British Empire
1907 New Zealand became a self-governing dominion within the British Empire
1930s Great Depression affected New Zealand and led to the election of the first Labour government and the establishment of a comprehensive welfare state and protectionist economy
1947 New Zealand gained full independence from Great Britain
1951 New Zealand joined Australia and USA in the ANZUS security treaty
1975 Waitangi Tribunal was set up to investigate the actions made by the British to the Maori people in the 1800s
1985 New Zealand banned all nuclear-powered or nuclear weapons carrying ships in its territorial waters
1987 New Zealand was declared a nuclear-free zone
2005-2006 New Zealand became the only country in the world in which all the highest offices in the country were occupied by women simultaneously (Head of State, Governor-General, Prime Minister, Speaker and Chief Justice) 

keskiviikko 19. lokakuuta 2016

Tuvalu, Cool Facts #155

<= 154. Tonga                                                                                                      156. New Zealand => 

1. Geography of Tuvalu 

Flag of Tuvalu There are nine stars in the flag of Tuvalu, representing the nine islands of the nation. 

Name of Tuvalu 
Tuvalu means "eight together" referring to the eight inhabited islands of Tuvalu. The southernmost island Niulakita has been uninhabited, except during the coconut harvest. 

Tuvalu has only about 10,000 people and the land area of the nation is among the smallest in the world. The atolls and reef islands form a 600km long chain in the middle of Pacific Ocean. 

The highest point of Tuvalu is only 5 meters above sea level. If the sea level rises like it's estimated, Tuvalu will become uninhabitable. The government has already asked help from Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand is ready to receive 75 Tuvaluan climate refugees yearly. Tuvalu has also negotiated buying land in Fiji, which is a thousand kilometers from Tuvalu. 

Tuvalu islands

2. Explorers and Scientific Expeditions in Tuvalu 

Álvaro de Mendaña
The Spanish explorer, who sighted Tuvalu as the first European in 1568. In his first voyage he sailed past Nui island and named it Isla de Jesús (Island of Jesus). In his second voyage he passed Niulakita in 1595 and named it La Solitaria.

Captain John Byron
The captain of Dolphin circumnavigated around the world and passed Tuvalu calling the atolls of Tuvalu as Lagoon Islands

Arent Schuyler de Peyster
Captain of Rebecca sailed in Tuvaluan waters in 1819 sighting Nukufetau and Funafuti, which he named Ellice's island after an English politician, Edward Ellice. Edward Ellice was the owner of Rebecca's cargo and the member of parliament for Coventry. After the work of English hydrographer Alexander George Findlay the name Ellice applied to all nine islands of Tuvalu. 

Captain George Barrett
Captain of the Nantucked whaler Independence II. He has been identified as the first whaler to hunt the waters around Tuvalu. In 1821 he bartered coconuts from the people of Nukulaelae and visited Niulakita as well.

Royal Society of London
Conducted an investigation at the site now called Darwin's Drill on Funafuti. The purpose of the investigation was to find out how coral reefs are formed and whether traces of shallow water organisms can be found at depth in the coral of Pacific atolls. 

Photographers and illustrators: 

Alfred Thomas Agate - engraver and illustrator from USA recorded the dress and tattoo patterns of the men of Nukufetau 

Thomas Andrew - photographer from New Zealand visited Funafuti and Nui in 1885 or 1886 and photographed the local people 

Harry Clifford Fassett - photographed people, communities and scenes at Funafuti in 1900, when the United States Fish Commission was investigating the formation of coral reefs on Pacific atolls. 

A Tuvaluan man in traditional costume drawn by Alfred Agate in 1841 
Woman on Funafuti, taken by Harry Clifford Fassett in 1900

3. British Colonial Period

British Western Pacific Territories 1892-1916
In 1892 each of the Ellice Islands was declared a British Protectorate as part of the British Western Pacific Territories (BWPT). 

Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony 1916-1974
The administration of BWPT was ended in 1816, when the colony of Gilbert and Ellice Islands was established. After the World War II, the United Nations was formed, which was committed to a process of decolonization around the world. So the British colonies in the Pacific started their path towards self-determination. 

Referendum of 1974
There was a referendum in Ellice Islands in 1974, whether they should separate themselves from Gilbert Islands or stay with them. The majority of 92% voted for separating from Gilbert Islands. Ellice Islands thus became a separate colony and four years later in 1978 the British colony became independent as Tuvalu.

Gilbert and Ellice Islands stamp
Gilbert and Ellice Islands

4. Blackbirding in Tuvalu 

What is blackbirding ?
Blackbirding means tricking or kidnapping people to work as labourers. Blackbirding in the Pacific started in the 1860s, when Peruvian ships were looking for recruits to mine the guano deposits on the Chincha Islands in Peru. 

In 1870s the blackbirding trade focused on finding workers to the sugar cane plantations in Queensland and Fiji. Blackbirding still continues in some developed countries like in Central America, where people are forced to work as plantation workers for very little pay.

Blackbirding in Tuvalu
A European missionary reported that in 1863 about 170 people were taken from Funafuti and about 250 were taken from Nukulaelae. Many other Polynesian islands were also affected by blickbirding. 

Main blackbirding routes

5. Economy of Tuvalu 

Tuvalu generates income from stamps by the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau.

Tuvalu's internet domain ".tv"
Tuvalu has commercialized its internet domain ".tv". The domain is managed by Verisign until 2021. The domain generates about 10% of the government's total revenue. Tuvalu gets each year around 2,2 million US dollars from royalties from the use of the domain.

Fishing licenses
Fishing licenses are one of Tuvalu's most important sources of revenue together with lease of its internet domain and income from the Tuvalu Trust Fund.

Financial support
Tuvalu Trust Fund was worth of $145 million in 2015. It was established by Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand to provide income to Tuvalu to cover shortfalls in the national budget. Japan, South Korea, USA and the European Union also provide financial support to Tuvalu.

Due to the remoteness of Tuvalu, tourism isn't significant. In 2010 there were only 360 tourists visiting Tuvalu.

Other facts
- Tuvalu doesn't have television channels, newspapers, jail or army
- Tuvalu had to postpone its membership in the UN because it couldn't afford to pay for the costs of the representation in UN

 Tuvaluan .TV domain

Tuvaluan stamp


1568 Tuvalu was sighted for the first time by the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña, who sailed past Nui and named it Isla de Jesús (Island of Jesus)
1595 During Mendaña's second voyage across the Pacific he passed Niulakita and named it La Solitaria
1764 Captain John Byron passed through the islands of Tuvalu calling them Lagoon Islands
1819 American Captain Arent De Peyster sailed under British colors and sighted Nukufetau and Funafuti, which he named Ellice's Island after an English politician Edward Ellice. Later the name Ellice was applied to all nine islands of Tuvalu after the work of English hydrographer Alexander George Findley
1821 Captain George Barrett, who has been the first whaler to hunt around Tuvalu, visited the islands
1861 Christianity came to Tuvalu with Elekana, who was caught in a storm and drifter for 8 weeks before landing at Tuvaluan islands
1862-1863 Peruvian ships were engaged in "blackbirding", seeking forcibly recruits to fill the extreme labour shortage in Peru
1892 Ellice Islands was declared a British Protectorate as part of the British Western Pacific Territories
1916 The Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony was established
1940s During the World War II, the Japanese occupied Gilbert Islands and the Americans Ellice Islands
1974 After a referendum it was decided that Gilbert Islands and Ellice Islands would have their own separate administration
1978 Ellice Islands gained independence as Tuvalu
1979 Gilbert Islands gained independence as Kiribati
2000 Tuvalu became the 189th United Nations member 

tiistai 18. lokakuuta 2016

Tonga, Cool Facts #154

<= 153. Samoa                                                                                                               155. Tuvalu => 

Current flag
The current flag of Tonga was adopted in 1875 and the constitution stipulates that the national flag can't be ever changed. The flags of Georgia and Switzerland have a lot of similarities with the Tongan flag. 

Red Cross
Between 1862-1866 Tonga used a flag, which was changed because it was discovered that the Red Cross adopted a symbol in 1864, which was almost identical. 

First flag
In 1831 English missionaries managed to convert the paramount chief Taufa'ahau Tupou to Christianity. In 1845 he became King George Tupou I and during his time in the 1840s the first Tonga flag was adopted. The flag had four crosses in each corner and the letters M and A. 

Tongan flags

First flag



2. Kingdom of Tonga 

The Kingdom of Tonga is the only kingdom in Oceania, which has preserved from the pre-colonial time until now. Tonga is also the only country in the Pacific, which wasn't subdued under direct colonial rule. 

Arrival of the Europeans
The Dutch visited the islands in the 1616 but it was after 1793, when British missionaries started arriving and converting the local people to Christianity. Some of the missionaries and merchants in trade ships were killed, who arrived in Tonga at that time. The Spanish Crown wanted a base in Tonga as well, but the venture was abandoned. 

Unification of Tonga
The chieftain of Ha'apai island, Taufa'ahau, had converted to Christianity and then he unified the three Tongan island groups of Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai as a unified kingdom in 1845. Taufa'ahau crowned himself the King of Tonga as Siaos George Tupou I.

British Protectorate
King Tupou I died in 1893 and his grandson Tupou II was the successor to the throne. Tonga was in financial trouble so Tupou II decided to sign the Treaty of Friendship with Great Britain in 1900. This meant that Tonga became a British Protectorate. Tonga remained independent, but Great Britain was now in charge of Tonga's foreign relations. Unlike any other Pacific island, Tonga managed to retain its monarchical government unlike Tahiti and Hawai'i


Queen Salote Tupou III ruled Tonga from 1918 until 1965. The Queen's son Tungi Taufa'ahau Tupou IV became the king in 1965 and during his rule Tonga got back its full independence from Great Britain in 1970. The current (2016) monarch is Tupou VI

King Tupou VI and his wife

3. Tu'i Tonga Dynasty 

'Aho'eitu is the divine father and the first king of the Tu'i Tonga dynasty in the Tongan mythology. The Tu'i Tonga dynasty was a real Tongan dynasty, which lost its political power in the 1400s. In 1865 Fatafehi Laufilitonga died and he was the 39th and last Tu'i Tonga dynasty member. 

The Tu'i Tonga was a strong militaristic state in the 1200s, ruling a vast area in the Pacific including Hawai'i. The Tu'i Tonga Empire started declining in the 1400s after the assassinations of kings.

Flag of Tu'i Tonga

Location of Tu'i Tonga Empire

4. James Cook in Tonga 

James Cook visited Tonga in 1773, 1774 and 1777. On his first visit in Tonga, James Cook named the islands Friendly Islands, because of the friendly reception that he got by chief and the local people. Cook actually arrived at the time of the 'inasi festival, which is a yearly donation of the First Fruits to the islands' paramount chief (Tu'i Tonga). Cook was invited to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, the chiefs actually wanted to kill Cook, but they couldn't agree on a plan how to do this.

James Cook

5. Nuku'alofa Riots in 2006 

What ? 
The biggest riots in Tongan history in the capital city of Nuku'alofa.

Why ? 
Since the 1980s the demands for democracy had grown. In 2006 little had been done to advance democracy despite the promises made one year earlier. Also the lavish lifestyle of King George Tupou angered the people. 

Nuku'alofa Riots
A mixed crowd of people went to the streets to protest in the 16th of November. Some people started then tipping cars over and finally it escalated into looting and burning buildings. The rioters targeted government buildings, several of the larger Chinese shops and others. 

State of emergency
The government declared a state of emergency one day after the beginning of the riots. Peace keeping forces from Australia and New Zealand came to help. The state of emergency was extended many times before it was ended in January 2011. 

Several hundred Chinese people emigrated away from Tonga after the riots. More than 60% of the downtown area was destroyed and 6 people got killed. In 2008 the king announced that he would relinquish much of his powers and surrender his role in governmental affairs to the Prime Minister. 

Nuku'alofa riots
Burning buildings in the Nuku'alofa riots


1500-1000BC The Lapita people inhabited Tonga
1616 The Tongan people encountered the first Europeans as the Dutch vessel Eendracht, captained by Willem Schouten visited Tonga
1643 Dutch Abel Tasman visited Tongatapu and Ha'apai
1773 James Cook visited the islands for the first time
1793 The first London missionaries arrived
1845 Taufa'ahau united Tonga into a kingdom
1875 King Taufa'ahau declared Tonga a constitutional monarchy with the help of missionary Shirley Waldemar Baker
1893 Siaos Tupou I died and his grandchild succeeded him into the throne
1900 Tonga became a protected state under a Treaty of Friendship with Britain
1918 The flu epidemic killed about 8% of the Tongan population
1918 Queen Salote Tupou III rose to the throne and remained in power until 1965
1965 The Queen's son Taufa'ahau Tupou IV ascended to the throne
1970 Tonga got its full independence back
2006 King Tupou IV died and his successor was George Tupou V, whose extravagant and lavish lifestyle has caused a stir among the poor islands of Tonga
2006 Nuku'alofa riots caused the emigration of several hundred Chinese people
2007 Tonga became a member of WTO 

Samoa, Cool Facts #153

<= 152. Solomon Islands                                                                                                 154. Tonga =>

1. Discovery of Samoa 

Samoa has been inhabited since about 2500-1500BC, when the Austronesian predecessors of Samoan people migrated from Southeast Asia and Melanesia. The first European to sight the Samoan islands was the Dutch Jacob Roggeveen. The visit was followed by Louis-Antoine de Bougainville in 1768, when the Frenchman named the islands Navigator Islands. Contact with the islands was limited until 1830s, when English traders and missionaries started arriving.

Jacob Roggeveen
Samoa stamps

2. Partitioning of Samoa 

First Samoan Civil War 1886-1894
Different Samoan factions fought against each other over the question whether Malietoa Laupepa or Mata'afa Iosefo would be King of Samoa. Germany, USA and Great Britain were part of the conflict as they supplied arms and training to the warring Samoan parties. All three western powers already sent warships to Apia harbor and a large-scale war seemed imminent. The conflict then ended when a massive storm destroyed the warships and the three countries decided that Malietoa would be the King. 

Second Samoan Civil War 1898-1899
Germany, USA and Great Britain were locked in a dispute over who should rule the Samoan archipelago. Great Britain and USA allied with Malietoa as Germany supported Mata'afa and his followers. In the end of the conflict Mata'afa became the paramount chief of Samoa and the islands were divided between the colonial powers according to the Tripartite Convention. 

Tripartite Convention of 1899
- USA acquired the present-day American Samoa
- Germany acquired German Samoa, the present-day Samoa 
- Great Britain got all of the Solomon Islands south of Bougainville

German, American and British warships in Apia harbor 1899
Ceremony commemorating the creation of German Samoa in 1900

3. Mau Movement 

German Samoa 1900-1914
Germany ruled Samoa with the principle that "there was only one government in the islands". The colonial Governor made all decisions on matters affecting lands and titles. In 1908 Samoans established the anti-colonial O le Mau a Samoa movement.

New Zealand rule 1914-1962
During World War I New Zealand seized control over Samoa from the German authorities. Great Britain requested New Zealand to perform their "great and urgent imperial service". Samoans resented New Zealand's colonial rule and blamed them about the inflation and the catastrophic flu epidemic in 1918-1919. The Mau movement had gained widespread support by the late 1920s. Olaf Fredrick Nelson, a half Samoan half Swedish merchant was one of the important Mau leaders and he was exiled in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but still continued financing and helping the movement.

Black Saturday 
The day known as Black Saturday happened in 1929. According to the Mau movement's non-violent philosophy, the leader and his followers in the movement demonstrated peacefully in downtown Apia. A struggle developed between the police and the Mau as one Mau leader had resisted, when a police officer tried to arrest him. The officers then started firing randomly into the crowd killing eleven people and injuring about 50 people. Chief Tamase got killed, when he was shot from behind as he tried to calm down the demonstrators by shouting "Peace Samoa".

Samoa's freedom heroes

4. Matai Tribe Leaders 

When Samoa gained independence in 1962 the matais, Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole and Malietoa Tanumafili II of the two biggest tribes, were chosen as lifelong heads of state. This act was done to prevent the fights between tribes, which occurred many times in the 1800s.

In 1963 Tupua Tamasese died, so Tanumafili II kept his office alone until 2007. After the year 2007 the head of state was chosen every five years as Samoa changed from a constitutional monarchy to a parliamentary republic.

Only a matai can run for the elections. There are currently more than 25,000 matais in Samoa.

5. Samoan Society 

- The Samoan language is the oldest preserved Polynesian language 
- Samoans are the second biggest Polynesian ethnic group after the Maori people in New Zealand 
- About 75% of the population live on the main island of Upolu
- Despite centuries of European influence, Samoa maintains its historical customs, language, social and political systems 
- The majority of the population are Christians but the ancient beliefs continue to co-exist side-by-side with Christianity 
- The tradition of tattooing exists in Samoa like in Hawaiian, Tahitian and Maori cultures 
- The most popular sports in Samoa are rugby union, Samoan cricket and netball

Samoan family
Tattooing in Samoa around 1895


1722 Dutch Jacob Roggeveen was the first European to sight the Samoan islands
1768 French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville named the islands Navigator Islands
1830s English missionaries and traders started arriving and establishing permanent settlements
1889 The Samoan crisis escalated when Great Britain, Germany and USA all sent their warships to Apia harbor, a large-scale war seemed imminent before a massive storm damaged or destroyed the warships thus ending the military conflict
1898 Second Samoan Civil War started as USA, Great Britain and Germany fought over the control of the Samoan archipelago
1899 The Second Samoan Civil War ends and the archipelago is divided between USA, Germany and Great Britain at the Tripartite Convention 
1900-1914 Imperial Germany governed the western Samoan islands, which is the present-day Samoa
1908 The non-violent resistance movement Mau a Pule arose and the leader Lauaki Namulauulu Mamoe was banished to the German Northern Mariana Islands in 1909
1914 New Zealand captured German Samoa during World War I and after the war New Zealand controlled Samoa under trusteeship through the League of Nations
1918-1919 Influenza epidemic killed 20% of the Samoan population
1929 Black Saturday, peaceful Mau demonstration was dispersed by New Zealand police officers firing randomly into the crowd killing and injuring several people
1943 The Department of External Affairs, which administered Samoa, was renamed Department of Island Territories
1962 Samoa gained independence from New Zealand
1997 The country changed its name from Western Samoa to Samoa
2002 New Zealand's prime minister Helen Clark formally apologized for New Zealand's role in the events of 1918 and 1929
2009 Samoa changed the driving orientation to the left side of the street 

sunnuntai 16. lokakuuta 2016

Solomon Islands, Cool Facts #152

<= 151. Papua New Guinea                                                                                           153. Samoa =>

1. Name Origins of Solomon Islands 

The first European to visit Solomon Islands was the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña in 1568. Mendaña found gold in the islands and thought that he had found one of King Solomon's mythical gold mines. Thus Mendaña named the islands Islas Salomón, Solomon Islands. 

The Spanish weren't interested in settling to Solomon Islands because of the tropical humid climate and the resistance of the local people. The British later colonized Solomon Islands and used the name "the British Solomon Islands Protectorate". The country retained its name when it became independent in 1978 as Solomon Islands. 

Álvaro de Mendaña at Point Cruz

2. British Colonial Rule in Solomon Islands

Germany colonized the Northern Solomon Islands in 1885 and incorporated them as part of the German New Guinea colony. The British then conquered the rest of the Solomon Islands in 1893. The German Solomon Islands Protectorate was transferred to the British Solomon Islands Protectorate in 1900.

Malaita Rebellion
The people in Malaita rebelled against the colonial administration in 1927. One of the reasons was the harsh taxation of the locals. The rebellion ended poorly in 1928 as the British publicly hanged the rebellion leader Basiana and his allies in Tulag.

Moving towards independence
The national movement Maa'sina Ruru emerged in Solomon Islands and it was suppressed by the British in the 1950s. Some improvements were made in the 1960s when local administration was started to develop on the islands. In 1976 Solomon Islands gained self-government and in 1978 Great Britain granted Solomon Islands independence.

Solomon islanders during the British rule

Stamp of British Solomon Islands

3. Solomon Islands in World War II 

Influence on the local people
Most of the traders and planters were evacuated to Australia after the outbreak of the war. Cultivation in most of the places was ceased because some of the most intense fights of the war occurred in the Solomons.

Battle of Guadalcanal
In 1942 Japan had conquered the Solomon Islands and established a military base in Guadalcanal. The Battle of Guadalcanal started in August 1942 with simultaneous naval bombardments and amphibious landings on the Florida Islands at Tulagi and Red Beach on Guadalcanal. The Battle of Guadalcanal was the most important and bloody campaign fought in the Pacific Ocean as the Allied Forces began to stop the Japanese expansion.

John F. Kennedy 
During the war John F. Kennedy and his crew of the PT-109, were shipwrecked in the Solomon Islands. Two islanders, Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, found Kennedy and his crew on an island, where they had swam after their ship had sunk. The islanders helped Kennedy and his crew to the nearest Allied base by rowing a canoe 65 km through hostile waters patrolled by the Japanese.

Battle of Guadalcanal
Kennedy in the far right

4. Civil War in Solomon Islands 1999-2003

Other names for the conflict
The tensions
The ethnic tensions 

Isatabu Freedom Movement (Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army)
Malaita Eagle Force 
Much of the fighting was between Guales and Malaitans 

Reason for the conflict 
During the world war the Americans and British settled workers from Malaita to the neighboring island of Guadalcanal. The people of Guadalcanal thought that the Malaitans had got the best lands and leading positions in the administration, which caused tensions between the Guales and Malaitans. 

Beginning of the conflict
In 1999 the militants in Guadalcanal started a campaign of violence and intimidation towards Malaitan settlers. As a result thousands of Malaitans fled the next year. As a counterforce the Malaita Eagle Force was established to fight against the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army. 

End of the conflict
In 2003 Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomons Islands with 2200 police and troops from about 20 other Pacific nations came to stop the unrests and violence.

IFM militant

5. Blonde Melanesians of Solomon Islands

Blond hair around the world
Outside of Europe, natural blond hair is really rare. Melanesians along with some Australian Aborigines however are one of the few non-Caucasian people, who have blond hair. Scientists have researched the genes of the people in Solomon Islands because of this unique feature.

Between 5-10% of the population in the Solomon Islands are blond. The gene causing blond hair in Melanesians is entirely different than Caucasian gene for blond hair. An allele of TYRP1 results in blond hair.

Blonde Melanesian children


30,000BC Approximately the Papuan-speaking settlers arrived
4000BC Austronesian speakers arrived
1200-800BC The ancestors of the Polynesians, the Lapita people arrived from Bismarck archipelago
1568 The Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña visited the Solomon Islands archipelago as the first European and named it Islas Salomón after the wealthy biblical King Solomon
1800s Over 30,000 indigenous people were taken to forced labour in Fiji and Australia to the sugar cane plantations 
1885 Germany took the northern Solomons to their German New Guinea colony 
1893 United Kingdom declared a kingdom over the southern Solomons 
1898 and 1899 more outlying islands were added to the protectorate 
1900 The remainder of the archipelago, apart from the islands of Buka and Bougainville, was transferred to British administration having being previously under German jurisdiction
1927 A rebellion broke out at Malati against the colonial administration and the unfair taxation was one of the main reasons
1928 The British suppressed the rebellion by publicly hanging the rebellion leader Basiana and his supporters in the capital city Tulag
1940s Some of the most fierce naval battles was fought in the Solomon Islands between USA and Japan, which led to the expulsion of the Japanese from the islands
1950s The British suppressed the national movement Maa'sina Ruru
1960s Local administration was started to develop on the islands
1976 Solomon Islands gained self-government
1978 Great Britain granted Solomon Islands independence
1984 The government declared Solomon Islands as a nuclear weapon-free area
1999-2003 Ethnic violence, which escalated into a civil war
2003 Australian-led troops arrived to calm down the situation in Solomon Islands
2006 Unrests in Honiara as a Chinese businessman was alleged to have bribed the newly elected Prime Minister, as a result hundreds of Chinese fled to avoid the riots and much of the Chinatown in the city was destroyed
2007 Solomon Islands were struck by a major earthquake followed by a tsunami, killing at least 52 people and destroying more than 900 homes
2013 A sequence of earthquakes struck Solomon Islands again with a tsunami followed by the earthquakes