Solomon Islands is a sovereign country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu. It has a land area of 28,400 square kilometres, and a population of 652,858.
The Solomon Islands archipelago is part of two distinct terrestrial ecoregions. Most of the islands are part of the Solomon Islands rain forests ecoregion, which also includes the islands of Bougainville and Buka; these forests have come under pressure from forestry activities. The Santa Cruz Islands are part of the Vanuatu rain forests ecoregion, together with the neighbouring archipelago of Vanuatu. The country had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 7.19/10, ranking it 48th globally out of 172 countries. Soil quality ranges from extremely rich volcanic to relatively infertile limestone. More than 230 varieties of orchids and other tropical flowers brighten the landscape. Mammals are scarce on the islands, with the only terrestrial mammals being bats and small rodents. Birds and reptiles, however, are abundant.
The islands contain several active and dormant volcanoes. The Tinakula and Kavachi volcanoes are the most active.
On the southern side of Vangunu Island, the forests around the tiny community of Zaira are unique, providing habitat for at least three vulnerable species of animals. The 200 human inhabitants of the area have been trying to get the forests declared a protected area, so that logging and mining cannot disturb and pollute the pristine forests and coastline.
The baseline survey of marine biodiversity in the Solomon Islands that was carried out in 2004, found 474 species of corals in the Solomons as well as nine species which could be new to science. This is the second highest diversity of corals in the World, second only to the Raja Ampat Islands in eastern Indonesia.