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Island, Solomon Islands, west-central South Pacific Ocean. The largest of the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal has an area of 2,069 sq mi (5,358 sq km); the national capital, Honiara, lies on the northern coast. The economy is based mainly on fishing and agriculture, with some gold mining. The island was visited by the Spanish in the 16th century and by the British in the late 18th century; it was annexed in 1893 as part of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. During World War II it was the scene of prolonged fighting between U.S. and Japanese forces (1942–43), which resulted in the Allied capture of a Japanese air base there. Several naval battles were also fought in the region. Ethnic tensions between Guadalcanal islanders and migrants from the nearby island of Malaita worsened after World War II. After the islands achieved independence from Great Britain in 1978, ethnically based disputes simmered on the island, sparking violence and rioting in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Guadalcanal, visit Britannica.com.