Solomon Islands is a country on six main islands in the Pacific Ocean, northeast of Australia, the most populous island being Guadalcanal. The islands, an important battleground in World War II, gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1978. Australian peacekeeping troops are in the country since 2003 because of an armed conflict that started in 1998 that was due to ethnic tensions.  
In 2007, the government demanded a time-frame for the withdrawal of the Australian-led military from the country. Australia wants to remain because it "regards the security force in the Solomon Islands as crucial to its region-wide strategy of stamping out corruption, promoting good democratic governance and preventing nations from becoming failed states", reported the BBC. The Solomon Islands resents this view and accuses Australia of being a regional bully. 
The BBC says of the country's media:
- The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) operates a public radio service. A high rate of illiteracy means that the SIBC has more influence than the press. In 2004 the media rights body Reporters Without Borders said the Australian-led mission to restore order had improved working conditions for local journalists. Militia leaders who had threatened the press had been jailed, it added.
- The Australian government has donated equipment to SIBC and has sponsored programmes aimed at promoting peace. Taiwan has also granted technical aid.
Arms sales in the Solomon Islands
On June 6, 1998, Raymond Bonner of the New York Times writing about arms sales, said that the country, "has no army and a police force of barely a thousand (including traffic patrols). But last summer the Government purchased enough equipment to outfit a small combat unit -- assault rifles, machine guns, helmets and boots, and two small airplanes -- from an American company.
"At the Pentagon and the United States Customs Service, officials expressed misgivings about the sale, fearing the weapons were destined for rebels in nearby Papua New Guinea. Others argued that it would be better for the Solomon Islands to invest in health and education. Australia and New Zealand opposed the deal, saying it was irresponsible to bring more weapons into the region.
"But the State Department agreed the arms were needed by the police and issued the necessary licenses.
"Since then a newly elected Government in the Solomon Islands, suspicious about the motives for the arms deal, has opened an investigation and tried to cancel it." 
- Derek Sikua, Prime minister
- Queen Elizabeth II, Head of state, represented by Governor-General Nathaniel Waena
Related SourceWatch articles
- Solomon Islands, National Geographic, accessed March 2008.
- Country profile: Solomon Islands, BBC, accessed March 2008.
- "Solomons demands mission deadline", BBC, February 12, 2007.
- Raymond Bonner, "A World of Arms: A Deal Under Suspicion; For U.S., Gun Sales Are Good Business", New York Times, June 6, 1998.
- Penny Spiller, "Riots highlight Chinese tensions", BBC, April 21, 2006.
- "Australia beefs up Solomons force", BBC, April 21, 2006.