The Solomon Islands, a former British protectorate in the Pacific, is striving to recover from a civil conflict that brought it to the brink of collapse.
More than 90% of the islanders are ethnic Melanesians, but there has been intense and bitter rivalry between the Isatabus on Guadalcanal, the largest island, and migrant Malaitans from the neighbouring island.
Solomon Islands Tourist Attractions
Fighting broke out in 1998 when the Isatabu Freedom Movement began to force Malaitans out, accusing them of taking land and jobs. Around 20,000 people abandoned their homes, with many subsequently leaving Guadalcanal.
A rival militia group, the Malaitan Eagle Force, staged a coup in June 2000 and forced the then prime minister to resign, saying he had failed to deal with the crisis, which had left up to 100 dead.
An Australian-brokered peace deal was signed in October 2000. But lawlessness continued and an Australian-led peacekeeping force arrived in July 2003. The Solomon Islands force arrested many rebel Solomon Islands travel commanders, collected thousands of illegally-held weapons and oversaw a slow return to order.Sentosa
The Australian intervention also provided for the appointment of foreign nationals to government posts and included financial assistance; Canberra says it aims to make the country self-sustaining.
But prosperity is elusive. Civil war left the country almost bankrupt, and post-election riots in April 2006 sent some of the advances made since 2003 up in smoke.
The economy relies heavily on timber exports, which are vulnerable to price fluctuations. Economic hopes have been pinned on the resumption of palm oil production and gold mining.
The Solomon Islands chain consists of several large volcanic islands to the south-east of Papua New Guinea, as well as outlying islands and atolls. The terrain is mountainous and Solomon Islands attractions heavily forested.
Solomon Islands map
During World War II the island of Guadalcanal saw some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific theatre as the US battled to wrest control of the territory from Japanese occupiers.
Full name: Solomon Islands
Population: 500,000 (UN, 2007)
Area: 27,556 sq km (10,639 sq miles)
Major language: English (official), Melanesian dialects
Solomon Islands flag
Major religion: Christianity Life expectancy: 63 years (men), 64 years (women) (UN, 2007)
Monetary unit: 1 Solomon Islands dollar = 100 cents
Main exports: Timber, fish, palm oil and kernels, copra
GNI per capita: US $590 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .sb
International dialling code: +677