The Solomon Islands is a sovereign nation with a population of approximately 500,0001. An archipelago of 992 islands stretches 1500 kilometres in a south-easterly direction from the southern tip of Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea to the northern border of Vanuatu.
The World Bank3 estimates 81.7% of Solomon Islanders reside in rural areas (2009) compared to 49.7% globally (11% for nearby Australia & 56% for China). Since 1960, World Bank data indicates the Solomon Islands is urbanising at a rate of approximately 2.55% per decade. This compares to the faster global urbanisation rate of 3.57% per decade for the same period.
The United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI) provides a composite measure of three basic dimensions of human development: health, education and income. Solomon Islands’ HDI in 2009 was 0.492 which gave the “country a rank of 123 out of 169 countries with comparable data” with Australia ranking first. “The HDI of East Asia and the Pacific as a region increased from 0.391 in 1980 to 0.650 today, placing the Solomon Islands below the regional average.”
The current life expectancy at birth, according to the UNDP, is 67.0 years and the mean years of schooling of adults is 4.5 years.