The nation of the Solomon Islands consists of nearly one thousand islands, covering 28,400 square kilometers of land. On the island of Guadalcanal is the nation's capital, Honiara. The Solomon Islands are located in Oceania, and lie to the east of Papua New Guinea, spanning about 1,500 kilometers. They are a part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The country received its independence relatively recently in 1978, achieving self-government two years prior to that. The country's natives, the Melanesians, are believed to have inhabited the islands for thousands of years. It wasn't until 1568 that the first Europeans arrived with the Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendana. In 1893, a protectorate was established over the Solomon Islands by the United Kingdom. During World War II, the Americans and Japanese met in conflicts such as the Battle of Guadalcanal on the Solomon Islands. Currently, the country's government is a constitutional monarchy with a queen and a prime minister, Elizabeth II and Gordon Lilo Darcy, respectively.