Saturday, 3 October 2015

Solomon Islands - Playlist

I always enjoy discovering new music, when I'm researching for this blog.  I found quite a lot of music from the Solomon Islands, compared to other art forms like literature or movies, so I've made up a playlist of some of my favourites.

Sweet Lullaby - Deep Forest

Probably the most famous of all songs to come out of the Solomon Islands is the lullaby Rorogwela from the Baegu people in Malaita, which was sampled by Deep Forest on their 1992 album, Sweet Lullaby.  

The original vocal was recorded by a Swiss-French ethnomusicologist called Hugo Zemp when he travelled to the Solomon Islands in 1970 and the singer is a woman called Afunakwa.

I was a big fan of Deep Forest when I was a student in the 1990's and I've always loved this song, although I had no idea of its connection with Malaita and the Solomon Islands.

I'm also posting a YouTube video which has the original recording from a UNESCO Musical Sources collection from 1973.

Mato by Narasirato

Solomon Islands is probably most famous for its traditional panpipe music and Narasirato, who come from the island of Malaita, are one of the Solomon's most famous panpipe groups.  They played at festivals such as Glastonbury and Roskilde, so they're well known on the World Music stage.  I particularly liked a song called Mato from their 2012 album Warato'o, but all of their stuff is great!

I found this video on YouTube which will give you a flavour of their music.

Soso Kakoi by Wasi Ka Nanara

Also quite well-known internationally is a panpipe group called Wasi Ka Nanara and I really liked the song Soso Kakoi from their album Sounds of Paradise - Native Pan Flutes of the Solomon Islands.  There's nothing like a soft panpipe breeze from the Pacific Ocean when you're making your way to the train station on a rainy London morning!

I'm sharing a video from YouTube, which was made on a tour the band did in New Caledonia in 1998.

Funeral Song

One of the most beautiful pieces of music I came across was, quite sadly, a funeral song, which appears on the 2011 album Spirit of Melanesia.  The album features a collection of songs from Melanesia collected by the British ethnomusicologist, David Fanshawe, who had died the previous year.  Fanshawe spent around 10 years travelling to the Pacific to record the music of remote islands in Melanesia, but also Polynesia and Micronesia.

If you wish to hear the song, you can get an excerpt on its page at Amazon.

Ta'Umai by Sharzy

When I was in Barbados earlier this year, I heard a lot of reggae music, as we were spinning around the island on the local shared taxis.  There's something about reggae that seems to lend itself to tropical locations and I remember when I was blogging about Fiji back in November 2012, I was surprised to find that a lot of the most popular music there these days, is essentially a Pacific version of that very Caribbean sound!

Reggae seems to be very popular in the Solomon Islands as well and I really liked the song Ta'Umai by Sharzy, a well-known artist from Simbo in the Western Province.  This song comes from his 2010 album, Iu Mi Flow and is an interesting mixture of English, Tok Pisin and Simbo! Another great song for a rainy London commute!

Murderer by Jahboy

Another popular artist of recent years is Jahboy, a.k.a. Kirwan Hatigeva, who combines reggae with a bit of hip-hop.  He's of mixed Melanesian and Polynesian heritage and I really liked the song Murderer from his 2012 album LuvNLife.  

Beautiful girl by DMP

I know it's a bit cheesy, but I developed a soft spot for the song Beautiful Girl by DMP.  I find it really interesting in cultures that are incredibly masculine, how romantic the lyrics of male singers are sometimes and I can't imagine a woman singing a song about a man which has such a note of sad desperation!

Anyway, it's kind of catchy and I'm posting a YouTube-generated video below, so you can hear for yourself.

The Lagoon - conducted by Gavin Greenaway and composed by Hans Zimmer

I wrote about the movie The Thin Red Line in a previous blog post and, whilst I was doing my research, I also listened to the soundtrack for The Thin Red Line written by Hans Zimmer, the German composer who also did The Lion King and Gladiator.

My favourite track was The Lagoon as there is something quite haunting about this piece and it captures the slow-motion horror of the war in Guadalcanal, as well as integrating some native themes from the Solomon Islands. Although it's not traditional music from the Solomon Islands, I still felt it should be represented, as the Solomons and the war in Guadalcanal were the inspiration for the movie and its soundtrack.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Solomon Islands - How I made Pacific-style Fish and Chips

When it comes to food from the Pacific islands, it seems as though all roads lead back to palu sami. As I've made palu sami twice before (once when I was blogging about Kiribati in 2009 and again when I was blogging about Fiji in 2012), I was determined to cook something else this time!  

Unfortunately, my internet searches for the Solomon Islands' national dish came to a dead end - one website even suggested the Middle Eastern Kibbeh as the national dish of the Solomon Islands, but that just didn't seem right to me!

So I improvised!  Interestingly, whilst reading my blog post about cooking palu sami as part of my research on Fiji - I'd noted how far along my cooking had come since 2009 - that I was now able to improvise and didn't feel the need to stick to the exact recipe.  Well, I guess this current recipe is a step further for me, as I'm not only improvising, but adapting one nation's dish and giving it a make-over with another nation's staple foods.

I chose Fish and chips for several reasons - mainly because all my reading suggested that, despite their love of tinned meats like corned beef and spam, people do still eat a lot of fish in the Pacific islands.  I also found out that people in Melanesia love sweet potato, so that gave me the idea of making sweet potato chips or wedges.  

Perhaps most importantly, I wanted to pay homage to the fact that the Solomon Islands were once a British territory, so my Pacific-style fish and chips is an attempt to capture the history, as well as the cuisine of this island nation.

The Sweet Potato mystery

My photo of sweet potato
When I was researching for my blog posts on Oaxaca, Mexico - I first came across the concept of the Columbian Exchange - how European contact with Central America saw the introduction of tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, chocolate and many other crops to the diets of people outside the Americas.  

Unfortunately, the other half of the exchange meant death, disease and decimation of the native American populations!  

The interesting thing about the sweet potato is that it appeared in the Pacific islands before the Columbian exchange. No-one quite knows how the sweet potato ended up in places like Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Philippines and Japan, but somehow it happened and sweet potato has been a part of the Pacific diet for more than 1,000 years!

The Ingredients

4 fish fillets
3 limes
1 bunch of spinach
4 sweet potatoes (cut into chips)
1 tomato
1 onion
1/2 tin of coconut milk

How I made the sweet potato chips

The first thing I did was to prepare the sweet potato - peeling off the reddish-coloured skin and chopping the flesh into chips or wedges.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into wedges
I then parboiled the chips, before roasting them in the oven.  I did  think about deep-fat frying the chips but, in my (admittedly limited!) experience of Pacific-island cuisine, they seem to bake things more than fry them, so I thought baked sweet potato wedges would be the best option. 

Parboil the sweet potato chips . .

. . then bake them in the oven
How I prepared the fish and sauce mixture

I used fish fillets that had been frozen - defrosted them and marinated them for a couple of hours in lime juice, sprinkled with some rind.

Marinate the fish fillets in lime juice
I decided to also bake the fish, so put the fillets into an oven dish, in the marinade liquid, covered it with tinfoil and baked it for about twenty-five minutes, at the same time as the sweet potato was baking.  

Bake the fish for about twenty-five minutes
To prepare the ingredients for the sauce, I washed the spinach and chopped the tomato and onion.

Wash the spinach

Chop the tomato and onion
I fried the tomato and onion on a fairly high temperature, so they would make a kind of paste.

Fry the tomato and onion in a saucepan
I then added the spinach and coconut milk, bringing the mixture to the boil, before simmering for around twenty minutes.  

Add the spinach and coconut milk

The end result was really rather tasty!

Pacific-style Fish and Chips
Image credits:

All photos were taken by me on my trusty iPhone - please feel free to re-use them under the Creative Commons license: Attribution, Share Alike, Non-commercial

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Happy blogiversary! Six years of Learning about the World!

Today marks the six-year anniversary of Learning about the World.

I must admit that it feels like I've slowed down a lot in recent months.  I moved to a new department at work in March of this year and a new role which has been quite demanding of my energy and creativity!  Rather than giving up on my blogging, I've decided to continue at a slower pace.

It's been hard work at times during the last six months and I've also felt a bit restricted by having my reading, listening, culture explorations limited to the place I'm currently blogging about - so I've branched out a bit recently and expanded the scope of my learning beyond this blog, which has also slowed me down (but hopefully not too much!)

To date, I've blogged about 39 countries/places around the world, including four new places since my last blogiversary: Palestine, Quebec, Reunion and (not yet finished) Solomon Islands.    Highlights of the past year have included listening to Palestinian music, discovering the movies of Xavier Dolan, reading in French and learning about the beachcombers of the South Pacific.

Some stats

Worldwide visits to Learning about the World
My blog has had 64,284 page views, almost a 40% increase since this time last year.  April this year saw the most page views ever in a single month at 2,582 so it seems that Learning about the World is more popular than ever!

It's interesting to compare the top twenty countries to my blog this year with last year - in general it seems as though the blog has been steadily growing in popularity in places like Australia, Canada, Germany and France.  Other countries seem to be losing interest (Saudi Arabia, Barbados, India), perhaps because my blog posts about those countries are 'older' now?

There are some new entries to the top 20 list; Kenya, Russia and China, whilst a few other countries have dropped out of the top 20 list (Belgium, Brazil and UAE).

The USA and UK continue to provide the majority of hits on my blog, with people in the US making up almost 35% of my readership in the past year.

The top twenty

1. United States (-)
2. United Kingdom (-)
3. Australia (+1)
4. Canada (+1)
5. India (-2)
6. Germany (+1)
7. France (+3)
8. Kenya (new!)
9. Netherlands (+6)
10. Italy (-4)
11. Cambodia (+1)
12. Russia (new!)
13. China (new!)
14. New Zealand (+2)
15. Malaysia (+4)
16. Spain (+2)
17. Japan (new!)
18. Saudi Arabia (-7)
19. Barbados (-5)
20. Ireland (-14)

The blog has had visitors from 166 countries in total (9 new countries since last year) and the newest country to appear on my readership list was Cameroon in July 2015.

Popular posts

You can see a list of the ten most popular posts of all time below:

And it's interesting to compare this with the ten most popular posts when I blogged about this last year:

Sum total of my learning

Since last September, in my pursuit of learning I have:

Read 21 books
Watched 18 movies
Learned how to cook 4 new dishes
Listened to countless hours of Palestinian rap, Leonard Cohen, maloya and Pacific reggae!

I'm looking forward to another year of learning, reading, cooking, movie-watching and blogging - don't forget to join me!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Solomon Islands - On the Silver Screen

As part of my research for this blog, I've been reading Lonely Planet's Solomon Islands 3rd edition, which dates back to 1997. Although that's almost 20 years ago, I like to read the LP editions from the late-90's, as this coincides with my early 20's and the time when I started travelling in earnest, so I feel like I'm following paths I never took - not merely armchair travelling, but time-travelling as well!

Something that's really struck me whilst reading through this older version of Lonely Planet Solomon Islands, is the fact that most of the main 'sights' that you are recommended to visit, are ship wrecks, war graves and pieces of aircraft downed during the intense battles that raged in this part of the Pacific during World War Two.

Pacific Theatre in World War 2
On Sunday morning, 7 December 1941, Japanese Imperial forces bombed Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, effectively declaring war on the United States and setting off a chain of events that saw Japan occupy former British colonies such as Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore and Burma, as well as islands in the Pacific such as the Philippines, Solomons and Papua New Guinea.

This Japanese expansion opened up a 'theatre' of war in the Pacific, right on the doorstep of Australia, so the Allied Australian, British and US forces were quick to respond.  Guadalcanal suddenly found itself in the spotlight, as Allied forces deployed a land invasion, capturing the main air base at Honiara and holding the island during a six-month campaign in 1942/43, which eventually saw the Japanese withdraw their forces.

The only movie I could find that was partly shot on the Solomon Islands was Terrance Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998).  Amazingly, I'd never actually seen this movie before and it wasn't like other war movies that I've watched - actually, I found it incredibly slow-moving, languorous and reflective, a welcome change from the usual action-packed movies full of explosions and violence.

Marines rest in the field in Guadalcanal
Malick has a way of expressing the horror of war, without showing the horror and I loved the fact that nature was everywhere in his movie - a painful human death would cut to the shot of a baby bird being born, or a lizard crawling on a tree.  It's like war itself is a repulsive imposition on the natural world.

For practical reasons, most of the movie was shot in Queensland, Australia, however, they did also spend twenty-four days shooting on Guadalcanal and it was really the first time I got to see the Solomon Islands on the silver screen.  The portrayal of the Solomon Islanders is fleeting and has a dreamy quality to it, the native people almost blend into the background, as nature does, removed from the war and its violent intentions.

It must have been bewildering for the Solomon Islanders to suddenly find themselves at the heart of the most globalised war in human history, when the islands had always languished in the shadows of the global stage, far removed from the forces that shaped the 20th century.  I'm sure the US soldiers' experience of Solomon Island culture was just as fleeting as in the movie and most of them would never have heard of Guadalcanal, had it not been for the Japanese invasion of the western Pacific.

Malick's movie also introduced me to the concept of ensemble epic - i.e. a large-scale movie with a massive cast of characters, each one of them claiming a similar importance of role, rather than having one or two defined 'heroes'.  Malick managed to secure a lot of really well-known actors for his movie - Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, Nick Nolte, Jared Leto, John Travolta, George Clooney, Adrien Brody to name but a few.  In fact he had so many actors and so many hours of footage that some performances like those of Gary Oldman, Mickey Rourke and Vigo Mortensen didn't make the final cut!

The Thin Red Line is well worth seeing and different that your usual war movie - a good Sunday-afternoon watch!

Image credits:

Both images used in this blog post are from Wikipedia and are in the public domain.  You can click on the images to see their source page.  

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Solomon Islands - Blackbirders, beachcombers and the story of Jack Renton

I'd highly recommend Nigel Randell's book The White Headhunter: The story of a 19th century sailor who survived a South Seas' heart of darkness (2003). It's incredibly well-researched, informative and I found it very easy to read. 

The sailor in question was Jack Renton, a young man from the Orkney Islands who was press-ganged into working on a ship bound for the Pacific Ocean. Finding himself in hellish conditions extracting guano on a remote island in (what is now) Kiribati, he and several other men escaped and spent weeks drifting across the Pacific until they finally made landfall in Malaita, in the Solomon Islands. 

Randell's The White Headhunter (2003)
Jack Renton was the only survivor of the journey and went to live with a tribe in Sulufou, one of the artificial islands on Malaita's east coast. He remained on Malaita for eight years, during the 1870's, before being 'rescued' by fellow Europeans and brought to Australia, where his sensational story was published in the Brisbane Courier

Perhaps the most sensational parts of Renton's story (his involvement in war parties, headhunting and his marriage to a local Malaitan woman) were glossed over, being considered subjects that were too sensitive for his 19th century audience.

People were much more interested in hearing about how savage the tribes were in Malaita, which already had a reputation for being one of the most dangerous places in the world.  

Randell's theory is that it wasn't a black and white case of 'civilised white man forced to live with savages' but, rather, that Renton experienced a lot of kindness from the native people of Sulufou; he learnt their language and came to understand a culture steeped in centuries of tradition.

In fact, after a visit home to his native Orkney Islands, Renton missed the Pacific so much that he returned to Australia to take up a post inspecting ships that were sourcing Pacific labourers for work in Queensland's sugar cane plantations. 

The press-ganging of native Pacific Islanders to work in Queensland, known as blackbirding, was quite common in the mid-19th century. Ruthless blackbirders took advantage of the Pacific Islanders' desire to trade and they tricked men and women to come on-board their ships, so they could remove them from their native islands and transport them to a life of hard labour in Queensland. 

Pacific Islanders being freed from a blackbirding ship
State Library of Victoria, file on Wikipedia
Blackbirding caused a lot of problems, culturally, to the extent that white Europeans were no longer welcomed, as the Pacific Islanders feared kidnapping and death as a result of contact with the white Europeans on the blackbirding ships. 

Some blackbirders even masqueraded as Missionaries, because they knew that Missionaries had a relatively good reputation in places like the New Hebrides (modern-day Vanuatu), until it got to the point that the Pacific Islanders felt they could trust no-one and there were several cases where bona fide Missionaries were murdered, because the Islanders thought they were blackbirders. 

By the time Renton was rescued from Malaita, the recruitment of labour from the Pacific Islands had settled down somewhat into, more-or-less, acceptable three-year contracts. Once the Islanders understood that they would be able to earn some money and return home after their contracts expired, there was a lot more interest in travelling to Queensland for work.

What I loved about the way Randell did his research was that he used parallel narratives, i.e. both European sources, such as the many 19th century Beachcomber memoirs and the oral traditions of the Islanders themselves. It's interesting to note how the Islanders' oral accounts of Renton's time on Malaita, differ somewhat from the more official European version of his time on that island. 

Footprint in the sand, from my own photos
I'm also fascinated by the role that Beachcombers played in the politics of the 19th century Pacific region. According to Randell there were an estimated 1,500 Beachcombers of European origin living on various Pacific Islands in the 1830's. Most beachcombers lived on the friendlier Polynesian Islands rather than places like the Solomon Islands or Vanuatu. 

Some of them ended up in the Pacific as a result of shipwreck, others chose to live on Pacific Islands, in order to escape enforced labour or imprisonment in the new British penal colony of New South Wales. They played an interesting inter-cultural role, as contact between Europeans and the Pacific Islanders developed and I couldn't help but think again of the flip side of Solomon, i.e. the Queen of Sheba and the birth of international diplomacy. 

Randell also writes a lot about the establishment of Missionary stations in the Pacific and the power and influence that Missionaries eventually gained. Renton's friend, Kwaisulia, who eventually became the 'big man' in Sulufou, was dismissive of Christianity, but there was something inevitable about the advent of European traditions in the Pacific.

Nowadays 92% of people in the Solomon Islands profess Christianity as their religion, with only 5% of people following traditional animist beliefs (funnily enough, most of these are on Malaita!)

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Solomon Islands - Swimming in the Pacific

As part of my research into the Solomon Islands, I read Solomon Time (2002), Will Randall's account of the time he spent in New Georgia, where he attempted to run a sustainable chicken farm with a local community in Rendova. 

Although Randall's book wasn't packed with facts or interesting insights into the culture of New Georgia, it was an amusing read and a rare 'western' view of one of the world's most forgotten corners. 

Something I learned from his book, that I hadn't been aware of before, is the fact that the modern 'front crawl' in competitive swimming can trace its origins back to the style of swimming practised in the Roviana lagoon.

The Solomons Crawl

Freestyle by Michael Knight
Also known as the 'Australian crawl', this swimming technique was fully developed by the famous Cavill brothers, who had observed a young Solomon Islander who was living in Sydney, called Alick Wickham, using this swimming style. They refined the style and made it into a modern competitive sport. 

Interestingly, although versions of the front crawl have been around since ancient times, competitive swimmers in Britain, where the sport was first regulated in the 19th century, mostly used the breaststroke, which involves bobbing your head in and out of the water to get air. 

The first time people in Britain saw a competitive version of the front crawl was during a swimming race held in London in 1844, where native Canadian swimmers, from the Anishinaabe nation of Ontario, demonstrated this technique.

Styles of swimming

Butterfly by Michael Knight
There are three major swimming strokes that are recognised by FINA (La Fédération Internationale de Natation), the body that regulates competitive swimming for the Olympics, but these don't include the front crawl, which usually features during freestyle events. 

Competitive swimming events have taken place during the Summer Olympic Games since the modern games were founded in 1896. The first four games had swimming in outdoor bodies of water.  Freestyle swimming featured in the first modern Olympic games (Athens 1896) and eventually the three FINA-regulated styles were introduced, as separate competitions for backstroke (Paris 1900), breaststroke (St Louis 1904) and butterfly (Melbourne 1956). 

The butterfly (or dolphin) stroke was also developed by an Australian, Sydney Cavill, who was from the same family as the brothers who developed the front crawl.

Olympic champions

Freestyle swimmer by Michael Knight
I was surprised to learn that a Hungarian, Alfréd Hajós, became the world's first (male) Olympic champion. Hungary still ranks fourth in the world, in terms of winning Olympic medals in swimming - curious for a country that is landlocked, although I suppose they do have a fantastic lake in the middle of the country!

I also learned that women weren't allowed to compete in the first modern Summer Olympic games in Athens in 1896.  Women first competed at the Summer Olympics in Paris in 1900, but didn't compete in swimming events until the Stockholm Olympics of 1912.  

Solomon Islands first participated in the Olympics as a new nation in Los Angeles in 1984. They haven't yet won any medals and they haven't competed in swimming events, concentrating more on Athletics and Weightlifting.

Swimming in the Pacific

 FINA World Championships in Kazan
The Oceania Swimming Association (OSA) is the governing body for swimming competitions in the Pacific region. I don't think Solomon Islands participates in OCA events, which seems a shame considering the legacy of the front crawl swimmers from Roviana lagoon. 

FINA also runs its own world championships and, by coincidence, the 16th FINA World Championship is concluding today in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan in the Russian Federation. There are 190 nations taking part in the 16th FINA championship but, unfortunately, Solomon Islands isn't one of them. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, Australia and New Zealand dominate Oceanic swimming events, however, Papua New Guinea has a strong swimmer, Ryan Pini, the first Papuan swimmer ever to reach an Olympic final. Fiji and Samoa have hosted international swimming events, but neither of these nations have ever won a medal at the Summer Olympics.

Bizarrely, Fiji also competes in the Winter Olympics and has sent skiing competitors to the Winter Olympics in Calgary (1988), Lillehammer (1994) and Salt Lake City (2002).

Image credits:

For this blog post, I've used images by US-based photographer and Flickr member, Michael Knight. Thanks Michael for sharing these images with us, using the Creative Commons license.  You can see more of Michael's photos on his website.  

Friday, 31 July 2015

Solomon Islands - Welcome to the Happy Isles!

The first time I remember becoming aware of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, was when I was living in Thailand in 2004 and I used to watch the weather reports on Australian TV.  I'd never heard of this interesting-sounding place, although I probably had a vague awareness that the Solomon Islands existed.  Ever since then, I've had a mild fascination with this small nation, in the western Pacific Ocean and, it goes without saying that I'd love to visit sometime although, for now, a virtual journey to the Solomon Islands will have to do!

The quest for El Dorado

As I've started my research into the Solomon Islands, I'm already making connections to places I've blogged about previously, namely Oaxaca in Mexico, Yemen and Fiji.

When I was blogging about Oaxaca, I learned about the arrival of the Spanish in central America - the disastrous first contact with Mesoamerican people, such as the Aztecs and the bloodthirsty greed for gold that led the Spanish to Peru and the search for the Golden one or El Dorado.

Beach near Havalo by Jenny Scott
The story of European contact with the Solomon Islands very much starts in Peru.  Having failed to find the fabled El Dorado in the Amazon jungle, the Spanish listened to Inca legends about Tupuc Yapanqui and the discovery of a fabulously rich kingdom of Terra Australis in the Pacific ocean.  In 1567, Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira, the nephew of the governor of Peru, managed to convince his uncle to fund an expedition in the Pacific ocean, which ultimately brought him to what we now call the Solomon Islands.

The expedition was a disaster but, rather than admit this and in the hope of funding a second, more successful expedition, Mendaña returned to Peru with stories of a wealthy Pacific kingdom, which soon became known as the Solomon Islands, named after the wealthy Biblical King.  Mendaña eventually died in the Solomon Islands, on his equally disastrous second expedition, but the name has survived to the 21st century - a strange Middle Eastern reference, in a faraway place.

The Queen of Sheba and the man-eating myth

In 2011, I blogged about the Queen of Sheeba and her visit to King Solomon, a prototype of subsequent diplomatic missions.  Mendaña's tales from the Pacific also set in stone a pattern of cultural interaction, where Europeans began to believe that cannibalism was widespread amongst the people of the Pacific and this reminded me of the research I did when I was blogging about Fiji in 2012 and Obeyesekere's study of the man-eating myth.

The Lost islands and World War Two

House in Havalo village by Jenny Scott
After two unsuccessful attempts by the Spanish to colonise the Solomon Islands, they pretty much remained lost in time, as contemporary maps of the Pacific were so inaccurate, that the Solomon Islands was believed to be much further to the east than they actually are.

Despite this loss of contact between Europeans and Solomon Islanders, the European memory of the islands remained and, even today, many of the main islands Santa Isabel, Santa Cruz and Guadalcanal still have the names that were originally given to them by the Spanish in the 16th century.

Guadalcanal is probably the most well-known of the islands and became a theatre of the Pacific war in the 1940's, when the US army fought the Japanese to gain control over this strategic island group, so close to Australia. The British first started getting interested in the Solomon Islands towards the end of the 18th century, but it wasn't really until the 1890's that they established a protectorate over the island group and the British Solomon Islands joined the world stage.

British interest in the Solomons was mostly linked to their fledgling colony in Australia, but also the fact that, in the late 19th century, the Germans were muscling in on (what is now) Papua New Guinea.  A strange anomaly in the Solomons' story is that Bougainville, one of the islands in the Solomon group, is now part of Papua New Guinea rather than the modern-day nation of Solomon Islands.

Man in canoe by Jenny Scott
Islands adrift in time

The Solomon Islands has a couple of nicknames; the Happy Isles and the islands adrift in time.  I'm looking forward to finding out more over the next couple of months, reading, listening, cooking and watching movies associated with the Solomon Islands.  I do hope you'll join me on my virtual journey to this remote corner of the Pacific!

Image credits:

For this first blog post, I wanted to highlight the photos of Flickr member Jenny Scott, a.k.a. Adelaide Archivist.  Jenny took these photos in Halavo village, which is on the Nggela Sule island in the Solomons' central province.  Thanks Jenny for sharing these images using the creative commons license.