The Languages spoken in Solomon Islands


English is the official language of Solomon Islands: it is used in official government transactions, business and some of the printed media. Surprisingly however, the language is spoken by only 1% to 2% of the population across the country, and it is not used as a medium of instruction in schools where the medium is prescribed by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development. It is only among the 70 living languages that are spoken in the different islands and provinces. The Melanesian language is spoken by about 85% of the population majority of whom are in the Central Islands, while the Polynesian language finds its speakers among the 4% of the population in the southern part of Rennell and Bellona Islands, and the northeast of Sikaiana Island. While the Papuan language is spoken by 9% of the population, the Micronesian language has a small number of speakers among the immigrant population of Gilbertese and Turaluans. The Solomons Pidgin, an English-based creole, has remained as the country’s lingua franca or common language, by which more people understand each other in many regions of the country.

The other individual languages spoken in the country include: Cheke Holo, with 10,800 speakers in central Santa Isabel Island, Kia district and Hograno coastal villages; Are’are, 17,900 in south Malaita Island; Gelu, 11,900 in Florida Island; Ghari, 12,100 in Guadalcanal’s northwest and north central coast; Kivalo, 13,200 in central Malaita Island; Lau, 16,900 in northeast Malaita Island; Lengo, 13,800 in Guadalcanal Island; and Toabaita, 12,600 in north Malaita Island. Four other languages which are headed for near-extinction are Ririo, Tanibili, Vano and Tanema, which are now rarely spoken in Choiseul Island and Temotu province.