Concept: Cartography


The earliest maps of the Solomon Islands are those of the Mendaña expeditions in 1568 and 1595, which were supplemented by later naval and merchant ship explorations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Early European explorers gave the main islands the names they have today. The Mendaña/Gallego expedition (1567-1568) named Santa Ysabel (Isabel), Guadalcanal, Ramos, Malaita, Florida (Nggela) and San Cristobal (Makira). The Mendaña/Quiros expedition (1595-1597) named Santa Cruz (Ndeni), Santa Ana and Santa Catalina. Ontong Java Atoll was named by Abel Tasman (1643), Choiseul (Lauru) by Louis de Bougainville (1766), Roncador Reef by Von Maurell (1781), and John Shortland (1789) named New Georgia and the Shortland Islands. The Russell Islands were named by Edward Manning (1792), the Duff Islands by James Wilson (1797), and Rennell and Bellona Islands by Captain Butler of the Walpole (1801). Rendova Island is probably a corruption of Rendezvous, a name given by whalers early in the nineteenth century.

The British Admiralty published the first Pacific Islands Pilot in 1885, and subsequent editions provided navigators with the best coastal knowledge of the islands. After the Protectorate was established, government officers gradually provided sketches of coastal and inland areas. In 1963, the Royal Air Force began a complete aerial mapping of the Protectorate using Valiant aircraft at a height of 40,000 feet, which provided eighty thousand photographs. In 1965 HMS Dampier carried out extensive gravimetric and magnetic surveys using equipment from the Hawaiian Institute of Geophysics, which provided full underwater mapping of the archipelago. The island chain is part of a larger region of the southwestern Pacific basin referred to as the Melanesian Rise. The intense warping and faulting of the earth's crust around the Melanesian Rise, with its accompanying severe earthquakes and volcanic activity, is perhaps exceeded nowhere else in the world. (NS 15 Apr. 1962, 16 Aug. 1963, 15 Nov. 1965)

Published resources


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details