Guadalcanal gwädəlkənăl´ [key], volcanic island (2009 pop. 93,613), c.2,510 sq mi (6,500 sq km), South Pacific, largest of the Solomon Islands. Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, is there. The island is largely jungle. Mt. Makarakombou rises to 8,028 ft (2,447 m). There are coconut and oil palm plantations and some gold mining. The inhabitants, mostly Melanesians, live along the coasts. Discovered by English navigators in 1788, Guadalcanal became a British protectorate in 1893. During World War II it was occupied by the Japanese. In Aug., 1942, U.S. forces began their first large-scale invasion of a Japanese-held island; after bitter fighting, it was conquered (Feb., 1943). In 1999, attacks by the Gwale majority caused many of the Malaitan minority to flee their homes; by 2000 the conflict had escalated into battling between ethnic militias in Honiara and the jungle. Points of interest include a museum of Melanesian artifacts and Henderson Field, the main objective of the American invasion.
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