Stamp of the British Solomon Islands, canoe and palms, 1939, 3d, SG#65.
The Solomon Islands is a country in the Pacific Ocean, located east of Papua New Guinea. The islands have a long history of human habitation, with evidence of human settlements dating back at least 30,000 years. The first known European contact with the Solomon Islands came in 1568, when the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira visited the islands. The Solomon Islands were subsequently visited by a number of European explorers, including the British navigator Captain James Cook, who visited the islands in 1774. Once a British protectorate, the Solomon Islands achieved independence as a republic in 1978. Honiara, on the north coast of Guadalcanal Island, is Solomon Islands’ capital and largest city. The country consists of a group of islands that are divided into six main island groups: the Western, Choiseul, Central, Makira, Guadalcanal, and Isabel provinces. The largest and most populous island is Guadalcanal, where the country's capital, Honiara, is located. The Solomon Islands have a total land area of 28,400 square kilometers and a total coastline of 5,313 kilometers. The country is largely mountainous and is covered by tropical rainforests. The climate is tropical, with high temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. The Solomon Islands are also located in an active seismic and volcanic region, with several active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. The population is primarily Melanesian, with smaller numbers of Polynesian, Micronesian, and Chinese people.