Guadalcanal Island, pronounced gwahd uhl kuh NAL, lies in the Coral Sea, east of the southern tip of New Guinea. It is the largest island of the nation of Solomon Islands. Honiara, the nation's capital and largest city, is on Guadalcanal. Guadalcanal covers 2,500 square miles (6,475 square kilometers). Most of the 71,000 people are Melanesians. The island's chief exports include coconuts, gold, palm oil, and timber.

Japanese troops occupied Guadalcanal early in World War II. It was the scene of heavy fighting in 1942 and 1943 when United States forces landed and forced the Japanese to evacuate the island.

Contributor: Geoffrey M. White, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, East-West Center.