Guadalcanal

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Guadalcanal
Native name:
Isatabu
GuadalcanalCloseup.png
Guadalcanal Map
Solomon Islands - Guadalcanal.PNG
Geography
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 09°35′24″S160°14′06″E / 9.59000°S 160.23500°E / -9.59000; 160.23500 Coordinates: 09°35′24″S160°14′06″E / 9.59000°S 160.23500°E / -9.59000; 160.23500
Archipelago Solomon Islands
Area5,302 km2 (2,047 sq mi)
Highest elevation2,335 m (7661 ft)
Highest point Mount Popomanaseu
Administration
Province Guadalcanal Province
Largest settlement Honiara (pop. 92,344 (2021)
Demographics
Population161,197 (2021)
Pop. density20.4/km2 (52.8/sq mi)
Ethnic groups Melanesian 93%, Polynesian 4%, Micronesian 1.5%, European 0.8%, Chinese 0.3%, others 0.4%

Guadalcanal ( /ˌɡwɑːdəlkəˈnæl/ ; indigenous name: Isatabu) is the principal island in Guadalcanal Province of Solomon Islands, located in the south-western Pacific, northeast of Australia. It is the largest island in the Solomon Islands by area, and the second by population (after Malaita). The island is mainly covered in dense tropical rainforest and has a mountainous hinterland.

Contents

Honiara is the largest city of Guadalcanal and the capital of Solomon Islands Honiara View.jpg
Honiara is the largest city of Guadalcanal and the capital of Solomon Islands

Guadalcanal's first charting by westerners was under the Spanish expedition of Álvaro de Mendaña in 1568. The name comes from the village of Guadalcanal, in the province of Seville, in Andalusia, Spain, birthplace of Pedro de Ortega Valencia, a member of Mendaña's expedition.

During 1942–43, it was the scene of the Guadalcanal Campaign and saw bitter fighting between Japanese and US troops. The Americans were ultimately victorious. At the end of World War II, Honiara, on the north coast of Guadalcanal, became the new capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate.

Geography

Guadalcanal is the largest island in Solomon Islands, with a total land area of 5,302 km2 (2,047 sq mi), and has a population of 155,605 people, making it the second-most populous island in the country after Malaita. Mount Popomanaseu is the island's highest point and the highest in Solomon Islands, with an elevation of 7,661 ft (2,335 m) above sea level. Mbokokimbo River is the island's longest river, with a total length of 98.7 km (61.3 mi).

Topography

List of peaks in Guadalcanal by elevation

River System

List of longest rivers by length

History

Prehistory

The island has been settled since at least 4500-2500 BC based on archaeological finds at Poha Cave and Vatuluma Posovi. [1] [2] During the period 1200-800 BC Austronesian Lapita peoples settled the islands. [1]

Western charting

A Spanish expedition from Peru in 1568 under the command of Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira were the first Europeans to see the island. Mendaña's subordinate, Pedro de Ortega Valencia, named the island after his home town Guadalcanal in Andalusia, Spain. [3] The name comes from the Arabic Wādī l-Khānāt (وادي الخانات), which means "Valley of the Stalls" or "River of Stalls", referring to the refreshment stalls which were set up there during Muslim rule in Andalusia. In the years that followed the discovery, the island was variously referred to as Guadarcana, Guarcana, Guadalcana, and Guadalcanar, which reflected different pronunciations of its name in Andalusian Spanish.

Colonial period

European settlers, whalers, and missionaries began to arrive in the 18th and 19th centuries. With these outsiders also arrived foreign institutions like forced labour. Beginning during the 1860s, about 60,000 natives from many parts of the Solomon Islands were indentured and sent to Australia or Fiji to work on plantations. This system continued into the 1890s. [4] In the 1880s, the Germans and the British vied for control of the Solomons. Germany established a protectorate over the northern Solomons in 1884 while in 1893, the British Solomon Islands Protectorate was proclaimed which included the island of Guadalcanal. [3] [4] However, Germany eventually handed over most of their protectorate to Britain in 1899. By the early 20th century, large agricultural plantations (specialising in copra) run mainly by Australians were established in the region. Guadalcanal was not seriously affected by World War I. [4] In 1932, the British confirmed the name Guadalcanal in line with the town in Andalusia, Spain.

Second World War

Japanese soldiers, killed while assaulting US Marine positions at the mouth of Alligator Creek GuadTenaruSandbar.jpg
Japanese soldiers, killed while assaulting US Marine positions at the mouth of Alligator Creek

In the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Japanese drove the Americans out of the Philippines, the British out of British Malaya, and the Dutch out of the East Indies. The Japanese then began to expand into the Western Pacific, occupying many islands in an attempt to build a defensive ring around their conquests and threaten the lines of communication from the United States to Australia and New Zealand. The Japanese reached Guadalcanal in May 1942.

When an American reconnaissance mission spotted construction of a Japanese airfield at Lunga Point on the north coast of Guadalcanal, the situation became critical. [5] This new Japanese airfield represented a threat to Australia itself, and so the United States as a matter of urgency, despite not being adequately prepared, conducted its first amphibious landing of the war. The initial landings of the 1st Marine Division on 7 August 1942 secured the airfield without too much difficulty, but holding the airfield for the next six months was one of the most hotly contested campaigns in the entire war for the control of ground, sea and skies.

Immediately after landing on the island, the US Navy Seabees began finishing the airfield begun by the Japanese. It was then named Henderson Field after a Marine aviator killed in combat during the Battle of Midway. Aircraft operating from Henderson Field during the campaign were a hodgepodge of Marine, Army, Navy and allied aircraft that became known as the Cactus Air Force. They defended the airfield and threatened any Japanese ships that ventured into the vicinity during daylight hours. However, at night, Japanese naval forces were able to shell the airfield and deliver troops with supplies, retiring before daylight. The Japanese used fast ships to make these runs, and this became known as the Tokyo Express. So many ships from both sides were sunk in the many engagements in and around the Solomon Island chain that the nearby waters were referred to as Ironbottom Sound.

Guadalcanal American Memorial Guadalcanal American Memorial.jpg
Guadalcanal American Memorial

The Battle of Cape Esperance was fought on 11 October 1942 off the northwest coast of Guadalcanal. In the battle, United States Navy ships intercepted and defeated a Japanese formation of ships on their way down 'the Slot' to reinforce and resupply troops on the island, but suffered losses as well. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November marked the turning point in which Allied Naval forces took on the extremely experienced Japanese surface forces at night and forced them to withdraw after sharp action. Some Japanese viewpoints consider these engagements, and the improving Allied surface capability to challenge their surface ships at night, to be just as significant as the Battle of Midway in turning the tide against them.

After six months of hard combat in and around Guadalcanal and dealing with jungle diseases that took a heavy toll of troops on both sides, Allied forces had brought the Japanese advance to a halt. Guadalcanal was a major turning point in the war as it stopped further Japanese expansion. Remaining Japanese forces evacuated the island at Cape Esperance on the northwest coast in February 1943. [6] American authorities declared Guadalcanal secure on 9 February 1943.

Two US Navy ships have been named for the battle:

To date, the only Coast Guardsman recipient of the Medal of Honor is Signalman 1st Class Douglas Albert Munro, awarded posthumously for his extraordinary heroism on 27 September 1942 at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal. Munro provided a shield and covering fire, and helped evacuate 500 besieged Marines from a beach at Point Cruz; he was killed during the evacuation.

During the Battle for Guadalcanal, the Medal of Honor was also awarded to John Basilone who later died on Iwo Jima.

After the war, American and Japanese groups have repeatedly visited Guadalcanal to search for remains of missing soldiers. Some 7,000 Japanese remain missing on the island, and islanders still bring the Japanese groups bones that the islanders say are those of unearthed Japanese soldiers. [7]

Post-war years

Immediately after the Second World War, the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate was moved to Honiara on Guadalcanal from its previous location at Tulagi in the Florida Islands. In 1952 the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific moved from Fiji to Honiara and the post was combined with that of the Governor of the Solomon Islands. The airfield which was the cause of the fighting in 1942, and which became well known as Henderson Field is now the international airport for the Solomon Islands. It sits about five miles to the east of Honiara. The secondary airfield, known as "Fighter Two" is now the local golf course. [8]

Civil war

In early 1999, long-simmering tensions between the local Guale people on Guadalcanal and more recent migrants from the neighbouring island of Malaita erupted into violence. The Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army, later called Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM), began terrorising Malaitans in the rural areas of the island in an effort to force them out of their homes. About 20,000 Malaitans fled to the capital and others returned to their home island; Guale residents of Honiara fled. The city became a Malaitan enclave and the Malaita Eagle Force took over government. The Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy deployed vessels to the area to protect the expatriate community resident mostly in Honiara. On her second visit to the capital, the frigate HMNZS Te Kaha served as venue for a series of peace talks culminating in the signing of the Townsville Peace Accord.[ citation needed ]

In 2003, the Pacific Forum negotiated the intervention of RAMSI or Operation Helpem Fren involving Australia, New Zealand, and other Pacific Island Nations.

Vilu War Museum

Memorials in Vilu War Museum Vilu War Museum 2.jpg
Memorials in Vilu War Museum
Aircraft in Vilu War Museum Vilu War Museum 4.jpg
Aircraft in Vilu War Museum

About 25 km (15 miles) from Honiara to the West, Vilu War Museum houses an outdoor collection of remains of various parts of military equipment and of several aircraft. Several memorials for the American, Australian, Fijian, New Zealand and Japanese soldiers who lost their lives were erected as well. [9]

Fauna

The island hosts a native marsupial known as the phalanger or grey cuscus, Phalanger orientalis . [10] The only other mammals are bats and rodents.

There are many species of colourful parrots as well as estuarine crocodiles. In recent times, these crocodiles have been found only on the Weather Coast in the south of the island, but during the Second World War, they were found along the north coast in the vicinity of the airstrip where the fighting was taking place, as evidenced by names such as Alligator Creek.

Venomous snakes are rare on the island and are not considered to be a serious threat; however, there is a kind of centipede that has a particularly nasty bite. These centipedes were well known to the American Marines during the Second World War as "the stinging insects".[ citation needed ]

Important Bird Area

The Guadalcanal Watersheds form a site that has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports populations of threatened or endemic bird species. At 376,146 ha (1452 sq. mi.), it covers some 70% of the island, extending along the southern coast inland to the central highlands, it contains riverine and lowland tropical rainforest as well as the greatest contiguous area of cloud forest in the Solomons. Although it also contains gardens and old village sites, most of it has never been permanently inhabited. Significant birds for which the site was identified include chestnut-bellied imperial pigeons, Woodford's rails, Guadalcanal moustached kingfishers, Meek's lorikeets, Guadalcanal honeyeaters, Guadalcanal thicketbirds and Guadalcanal thrushes. Potential threats to the site include logging and invasive species. [11]

In fiction

The 1918 short story The Red One by Jack London is set on Guadalcanal.

See also

Related Research Articles

History of Solomon Islands History of Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in the Melanesia subregion of Oceania in the western Pacific Ocean. This page is about the history of the nation state rather than the broader geographical area of the Solomon Islands archipelago, which covers both Solomon Islands and Bougainville Island, a province of Papua New Guinea. For the history of the archipelago not covered here refer to the former administration of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, the North Solomon Islands and the History of Bougainville.

Solomon Islands Country in the southwestern Pacific

The Solomon Islands is an independent island country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu. It has a land area of 28,400 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi), and a population of 652,858. Its capital, Honiara, is located on the largest island, Guadalcanal. The country takes its name from the Solomon Islands archipelago, which is a collection of Melanesian islands that also includes the North Solomon Islands, but excludes outlying islands, such as the Santa Cruz Islands and Rennell and Bellona.

Tulagi Small island in the Solomon Islands north of Guadalcanal

Tulagi, less commonly known as Tulaghi, is a small island—5.5 by 1 kilometre, area 2.08 square kilometres (0.80 sq mi)—in the Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Ngella Sule. The town of the same name on the island was the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate from 1896 to 1942 and is today the capital of the Central Province. The capital of what is now the state of Solomon Islands moved to Honiara, Guadalcanal, after World War II.

Savo Island

Savo Island is an island in Solomon Islands in the southwest South Pacific ocean. Administratively, Savo Island is a part of the Central Province of the Solomon Islands. It is about 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the capital Honiara. The principal village is Alialia, in the north of the island.

Auki Place in Malaita Province, Solomon Islands

Auki is the provincial capital of Malaita Province, Solomon Islands. It is situated on the northern end of Langa Langa Lagoon on the north-west coast of Malaita Island. It is one of the largest provincial towns in Solomon Islands. It was established as the administrative center for Malaita Province in 1909.

Provinces of Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is divided into nine provinces. The national capital, Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal, is separately governed as the islands' Capital Territory.

Nggela Islands Island group in the Solomon Island group

The Nggela Islands, also known as the Florida Islands, are a small island group in the Central Province of Solomon Islands, a sovereign state in the southwest Pacific Ocean.

Vella Lavella One of the Solomon Islands in the south-west Pacific

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Malaita Primary island of Malaita Province in Solomon Islands

Malaita is the primary island of Malaita Province in Solomon Islands. Malaita is the most populous island of the Solomon Islands, with a population of 161,832 as of 2021, or more than a third of the entire national population. It is also the second largest island in the country by area, after Guadalcanal. A tropical and mountainous island, Malaita's pristine river systems and tropical forests have not been exploited.

Santa Isabel Island

Santa Isabel Island is the longest in Solomon Islands, the third largest in terms of surface area, and the largest in the group of islands in Isabel Province.

Invasion of Tulagi (May 1942) Battle during World War II

The invasion of Tulagi, on 3–4 May 1942, was part of Operation Mo, the Empire of Japan's strategy in the South Pacific and South West Pacific Area in 1942. The plan called for Imperial Japanese Navy troops to capture Tulagi and nearby islands in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. The occupation of Tulagi by the Japanese was intended to cover the flank of and provide reconnaissance support for Japanese forces that were advancing on Port Moresby in New Guinea, provide greater defensive depth for the major Japanese base at Rabaul, and serve as a base for Japanese forces to threaten and interdict the supply and communication routes between the United States and Australia and New Zealand.

Munda Airport is an international airport adjacent to the town of Munda, Western Province in Solomon Islands.

Outline of Solomon Islands Overview of and topical guide to Solomon Islands

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Solomon Islands:

Japanese submarine <i>Ro-33</i>

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Honiara Capital city in Honiara City, Solomon Islands

Honiara is the capital and largest city of Solomon Islands, situated on the northwestern coast of Guadalcanal. As of 2021, it had a population of 92,344 people. The city is served by Honiara International Airport and the seaport of Point Cruz, and lies along the Kukum Highway.

The Malaita Eagle Force was a militant organisation, originating in the island of Malaita, in the Solomon Islands. It was formed in the early 2000s and soon crossed over to Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands.

Point Cruz Suburb in Guadalcanal, Honiara Town, Solomon Islands

Point Cruz is a peninsula in the center of Honiara, on Guadalcanal Island. Honiara is the capital city of the Solomon Islands. Point Cruz is located on the Tandai Highway, and is ¼ mile north of the Solomon Islands Parliament Building. Point Cruz is in the Honiara City Council ward of Cruz, and is East of Town Ground and West of Tuvaruhu.

Kakabona (Kakambona) is a peri-urban suburb on the fringe of Honiara, Solomon Islands and is located 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) west of the main center and west of White River on the Tandai Highway. Kakabona borders the Honiara City Council ward of Nggosi. Refugees from Bouganville settled following the conflict.

Vuhokesa Suburb in Guadalcanal, Honiara Town, Solomon Islands

Vuhokesa is a suburb in Honiara located in the main center on the Tandai Highway and includes the City Council roundabout. Vuhokesa is in the Honiara City Council ward of Vavaea. and is East of Point Cruz and West of Lord Howe Settlement. The Vuhokesa border is the West bank of the Mataniko River which runs into Kua Bay.

2000 Solomon Islands coup détat

The Solomon Islands coup d’état occurred on 5 June 2000, in the capital of Honiara. The event came as a result of longstanding ethnic tensions between the province that saw a rise in armed political groups from the late 1990s. This rise of armed political groups, eventually ended in the coup d’état, in which the prime minister, Bartholomew Ulufa’alu, was taken hostage by the militant group, Malaita Eagle Force.

References

  1. 1 2 Walter, Richard; Sheppard, Peter (February 2009). "A review of Solomon Island archaeology". Research Gate. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  2. Sheppard, Peter J. (2011). "Lapita Colonization across the Near/Remote Oceania Boundary". Current Anthropology. 52 (6): 799–840. doi:10.1086/662201. S2CID   162365253.
  3. 1 2 "Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands : A Tourism, Travel and Information Guide : Basecamp International". Guadalcanal.com. Archived from the original on 21 June 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2016. The islands were named by a Spanish explorer, Alvaro de Mendaña de Neira, who, on finding alluvial gold on Guadalcanal in 1568, believed he had found the biblical King Solomon's source of gold.
  4. 1 2 3 Schellinger, Paul; Salkin, Robert, eds. (1996). International Dictionary of Historical Places, Volume 5: Asia and Oceania. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. pp. 298, 299. ISBN   1-884964-04-4.
  5. Edwin P. Hoyt, Japan's War, p 305-6 ISBN   0-07-030612-5
  6. "Naval History and Heritage "Guadalcanal Campaign, August 1942 – February 1943". www.history.navy.mil. Archived from the original on 3 February 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  7. Fackler, Martin (29 November 2014). "Japanese Unearth Remains, and Their Nation's Past, on Guadalcanal". The New York Times . Archived from the original on 5 December 2019. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  8. "World War II: The Cactus Air Force Fought at Guadalcanal". HistoryNet. 12 June 2006. Archived from the original on 28 January 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  9. Michael Brillat: Südsee, p. 40. München 2011
  10. The Editors. "phalanger | marsupial". Britannica.com. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2016.{{cite encyclopedia}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  11. "Guadalcanal Watersheds". BirdLife Data Zone. BirdLife International. 2010. Archived from the original on 7 August 2022. Retrieved 8 October 2020.

Bibliography