Solomon Islands was first occupied by Papuan communities and then followed by Austronesian-language speakers. The first European expedition to the islands was made by Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira, a Spanish explorer who named them "the Islands of Solomon." British, Dutch, and French sailors docked in the islands, but it was the British who first established colonial administration. Some of the most strategic battles of World War II took place on the islands after the invasion of Japan in the 1940s. The British reclaimed the islands after the war and sought to rebuild it. Solomon Islands became independent in 1978.
Solomon Islands is an independent Commonwealth realm. The parliament selects the governor general who serves as the monarch's representative in the islands. The governor general receives advice from the prime minister and cabinet. Solomon Islands has a prime minister who is chosen by parliament. Members of cabinet are appointed by the prime minister to head various ministries. Ministers are aided by permanent secretaries who direct and supervise the ministry staff. The cabinet must answer to Solomon Islands' Parliament. Cabinet changes in the state are common due to the formation of unstable parliamentary coalitions and the presence of weak political parties.
A unicameral National Parliament is responsible for legislation in Solomon Islands. 50 members serve for a term of four years after elections in single-seat constituencies. The state's political scene features multiple parties where no party can dominate alone. Political parties collaborate to establish coalition governments. The dissolution of parliament before the end of its term can be triggered by a majority vote of its members. In the 2010 elections, the Democratic Party acquired 13 seats while the Ownership, Unity and Responsibility (OUR) Party and Reformed Democratic Party each received three seats. A total of 19 independents were voted into parliament. The speaker of the Parliament of the Solomon Islands is selected from outside parliament.
The Constitution of 1978 stipulated the jurisdiction of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. At the helm of the court system is the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs. Local courts give audience to criminal and civil cases as long as the parties live within the region in their jurisdiction. Community elders give rulings in these courts based on local by-laws and customary law. The Customary Land Appeal Court hears cases regarding the ownership and use of customary indigenous land, and it receives appeals from local courts. Magistrates' courts in Solomon Islands enjoy both criminal and civil jurisdiction and are limited to types of cases. Appeals from the High Court are received by the Court of Appeal. The Chief Justice is assisted by puisne judges to preside over the High Court. The court system of the state features foreign judges, especially from Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia.
The territory of Solomon Islands is divided into nine provinces: Isabel, Rennell and Bellona, Western, Guadalcanal, Central, Malaita, Temotu, Makira-Ulawa, and Choiseul. The Honiara City Council governs the Capital Territory of Honiara. Elected provincial assemblies administer over the provinces.