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Encyclopedia > Ontong Java Atoll

Ontong Java Atoll is the northernmost tract of land in the Solomon Islands and an outlying part of the province of Malaita. It is sometimes refered to as Lord Howe Atoll which is not to be confused with Lord Howe Island which is east of Australia. The entire size of the atoll is 1400 sq. km, however only 12 sq. km is land spread out over 122 small islets. The islands are mostly low-lying coral formations, the highest elevation being 13 meters. Malaita Province is one of the largest provinces of the Solomon Islands. ... Lord Howe Island showing Mts Lidgbird and Gower. ...

Approximately 1800 people live on the atoll; with 1300 on the island of Luaniua and 400 on Pelau. The islands were first inhabited by Polynesians approximately 2000 years ago. The first verifiable European sighting was by Abel Tasman in 1643 who named it Ontong Java, however it wasn't until 1791 that Europeans set foot on the islands (an Englishman named John Hunter who named it Lord Howe Atoll). In 1893 the islands were annexed by Germany and later ceded to Great Britain in 1899. Portrait of Tasman (detail from the family portrait). ...

Today the Polynesian-speaking inhabitants make a substitence living with copra production and fishing. There is some trade with Hong Kong dealing with beche-de-mer and trochus shells. It also has a prolific number of sea birds including the black-naped tern which is believed to breed only on Ontong Java Atoll. Beche-de-mer is a kind of big sea cucumber that is eaten in China and Japan. ...



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