Solomon Islands is a sovereign country consisting of a large number of islands in Oceania lying to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu and covering a land area of 28,400 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi). The country’s capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal. Solomon Islands should not be confused with the Solomon Islands archipelago, which is a collection of Melanesian islands that includes Solomon Islands and Bougainville Island (part of Papua New Guinea), but excludes the nation’s outlying islands, such as the Santa Cruz group.
The islands have been inhabited for thousands of years. In 1568, the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña was the first European to visit them, naming them the Islas Salomón. By 1893, the United Kingdom had established a protectorate over the territory. During the Second World War, the Solomon Islands campaign (1942–1945) saw fierce fighting between the United States and the Empire of Japan, such as in the Battle of Guadalcanal.
The official name of the then British territory was changed from “the British Solomon Islands Protectorate” to “Solomon Islands” in 1975. Self-government was achieved in 1976. Independence was obtained two years later. Today, Solomon Islands is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of Solomon Islands, currently Queen Elizabeth II, as its head of state. Gordon Darcy Lilo is the eleventh and current Prime Minister of Solomon Islands.