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szdaily -> Speak Shenzhen
Solomon Islands: Seek the unexplored
    2017-December-7  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

James Baquet

The nation named Solomon Islands lies just a few hundred kilometers east of Papua New Guinea, across the Solomon Sea. In fact, what appears to be the northernmost island in the chain, Bougainville Island, though part of the Solomon Islands archipelago, is part of Papua New Guinea’s Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Incidentally, Bougainville is named after the first European to record contact there, the French explorer Louis de Bougainville. (Shenzhen’s city flower was assigned the genus name bougainvillea after being observed in South America by a botanist on Bougainville’s ship.)

Who, one might ask, is this “Solomon” who lent his name to both the islands and the sea? He is in fact the best-known Solomon of them all, the Biblical king known for his great wisdom and great riches. The Spanish navigator who first visited the islands in 1568 erroneously believed they were a source of great wealth. By the time his assumption was disproven, the name had stuck.

The official name “the British Solomon Islands Protectorate” from the 1890s until independence in 1975 also raises a question: “protected” from what? In fact, the local population — notorious for headhunting and cannibalism — had been brutally pressed into service by European and American ships to provide slave labor in Australia and Fiji. After a decade of uprisings and massacres, the British enforced an end to the practice.

As a result of that colonial history, English is the official language of the Solomon Islands, though only 1 to 2 percent of the population speak it. Instead, the lingua franca of the Solomons is a local Pidgin, related to the Tok Pisin (“Pidgin Talk”) found in Papua New Guinea.

About 92 percent of Solomon Islanders are some sort of Christian or another. About 5 percent follow aboriginal beliefs, and an even smaller number are Muslim. As a Commonwealth realm, the Solomon Islands look to Queen Elizabeth II as their sovereign. She is represented by a governor general. The unicameral parliament elects a prime minister for a five-year term.

Vocabulary:

Which word above means:

1. shown to be wrong

2. composed of one house or chamber

3. chain of islands

4. native, indigenous

5. taking of human heads as trophies of war

6. mistakenly

7. biological grouping larger than a species and smaller than a family

8. scientist who studies plants

9. killings of a large number of people, slaughters

10. forced, taken against their will

 

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