Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands is a sovereign nation consisting of multiple island groups, scattered in the South Pacific east of Papua New Guinea. Its capital is Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal. Many of the outlying islands in the nation are relatively untouched, but Honiara is a busier hub of international commerce. The islands’ recent history is scarred by the desperate battles fought between the Japanese and American forces during World War II. In 1942, the Japanese launched their last great land offensive in the islands, which culminated in the Battle of Henderson Field fought at Honiara. Of the estimated 36,000 Japanese troops on Guadalcanal at the beginning, only 1,000 survived, the rest having either been killed directly, or succumbed to disease and starvation. Ghostly evidence of this horrific warfare dots the island, and it is memorialized at the American Memorial overlooking the town and at a smaller Solomons Peace Memorial erected by the Japanese outside the city. On a lighter note, traditional arts and crafts are on display at the National Museum, which also boasts a display of eight traditional Melanesian houses from various parts of the country. Behind the museum is a cultural center. Above town there is a pleasant botanical garden, and the bustling Central Market is a great place to get a feel for everyday life in Honiara. Although English is the official language, only a small percentage of Solomonese speak it. The common language is Pijin.