Before Britain proclaimed protectorate status over the islands in 1893, there was no single centralized politico-cultural system.What existed were numerous autonomous clan-based communities often headed by a male leader with his assistants.

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It is comprised predominantly of Melanesians with the rest of the population consisting of Polynesians, Micronesians, and small pockets of Chinese and Europeans. Most of the population (85 percent) live in villages.

Only those with paid employment are found in the urban centers and provincial headquarters of Honiara (the capital), Auki, Gizo, Buala, Kira Kira, and Lata. The Melanesian region of the Pacific is known for its polylinguism.

Solomon Islanders also speak a variant of English called pidgin English (a form of Creole).

And in formal places, such as in church services and in schools, English is spoken although it is usually interspersed with pidgin English and the native languages. The multiplicity of ethnic groups made it quite difficult for the nation to agree on one symbol for itself.

The first contact with Europeans was in 1568 with Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira.

Mendaña left and returned a second time in 1595 with the intent to settle.

The leaders at independence, therefore, chose an amalgam of symbols to closely represent the different islands and their cultures.

This is shown in the national coat of arms, which displays a crocodile and a shark upholding the government (represented by a crown) and a frigate bird supporting both.

The first discoverers of the Solomon Islands were the island peoples themselves.