Santa Isabel Island

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U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers of scouting squadron VS-6 en route to attack the Japanese seaplane base at Rekata Bay, Santa Isabel Island, August–September 1942. VS-6 operated from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) in the Solomons until she had to return to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (USA), after the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on 24–25 August 1942. VS-6 (and VB-6 crews) under CO Turner Cladwell then operated for another month from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, known as "Flight 300" (from the Enterprise flight schedule on 24 August).
Santa Isabel
Map of Santa Isabel, neighboring islands, and towns and villages
Solomon Islands - Santa Isabel.PNG
Location Pacific Ocean
Archipelago Solomon Islands
Area 2,999 km2 (1,158 sq mi)
Highest elevation 1,220 m (4,000 ft)
Highest point Mount Sasari
Solomon Islands
Province Isabel Province
Largest settlement Buala
Topographical map of Santa Isabel.

Santa Isabel Island (also known as Isabel and Ysabel) is the longest in the Solomon Islands, South Pacific, and the largest in the group of islands in Isabel Province.

Location and geographic data[edit]

Choiseul lies to the north-west, Malaita to the south-east. The Pacific Ocean lies to the north, and Guadalcanal (Isatabu) to the south.

The highest point in Santa Isabel is Mount Sasari, 1220 meters (3675 ft). River Marutho runs down that mountain into the ocean at Hofi. Almost all the rivers or streams run down that center point except for those at the other tip of the Island, Katova side.

The administrative centre is Buala, where the airport is as well. See List of airports in the Solomon Islands. Another important village on the island is Samasodu.


The first European contact to the Solomon Islands was made here, by the Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña on 7 February 1568. It was charted as Santa Isabel de la Estrella (St. Elizabeth of the Star of Bethlehem in Spanish). A settlement was established here by the Spaniards, and a small boat (known in the accounts as the brigantine) built to survey and chart the surrounding sea and islands. These local explorations led by Maestre de Campo Pedro Ortega Valencia and Alférez Hernando Enríquez resulted in the discoveries of the islands of Malaita, Guadalcanal, Savo, Vangunu, Choiseul, Makira, Ulawa, Malaupaina, Malaulalo, Ali'ite, and Ugi Island.[2][3] The Spanish immediately came into contact with Solomon Islanders and at first the relationship was cordial. However, the Spanish expedition's need for fresh food and water quickly led to tension and conflict, the Solomon Islanders’ subsistence economy being unable to provide continuous supplies to the Spanish.[4]

Having found no gold and little food, and beset by attacks and sickness, the Spanish colonists shifted their colony to the site of today's Honiara on Guadalcanal. Their colony, however, would die out.

Santa Isabel islanders suffered attacks from raiding headhunters in the nineteenth century. They embraced Christianity around the turn of the 20th century.

In May 27, 2011, 17 men were arrested for burning down the houses in Ulubea riverside settlement, 33 houses in all, as a result of a property dispute.[5][6] The number was later expanded to 31.[7]


The population of Santa Isabel speak as many as eight languages in addition to English and Solomon Islands Pijin.

Further reading[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Hammond World Travel Atlas. Union, N.J.: Hammond World Atlas Corporation, c. 2004-2005. ISBN 0-8437-1982-6. Page 245
  2. ^ Sharp, Andrew The discovery of the Pacific Islands Oxford, 1960, pp.48.
  3. ^ Brand, Donald D. The Pacific Basin: A History of its Geographical Explorations The American Geographical Society, New York, 1967, p.133.
  4. ^ Spate, O.H.K. (1979) The Spanish Lake. p.121, (Second Edition 2004) Australian National University, p.124
  5. ^ "Police respond to arson attack in Isabel Province". Solomon Star. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Buchanan, Assumpta (7 June 2011). "Men remanded for Isabel arson". Solomon Star. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Buchanan, Assumpta (21 July 2011). "Isabel arson case, August 1". Solomon Star. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 

Coordinates: 8°01′50″S 159°10′34″E / 8.03056°S 159.17611°E / -8.03056; 159.17611