Key facts about the quake-hit Solomon Islands

A powerful 8.0-magnitude earthquake rattled the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, triggering a regional tsunami warning. Here are some key facts about the South Pacific nation:

-- GEOGRAPHY: The Solomons comprise hundreds of islands with a total land area of 27,540 square kilometres (10,630 square miles).

It is a tropical nation and its main islands are mostly rugged and jungle-clad, although the country includes coral atolls.

It has a number of active volcanoes and severe earthquakes routinely hit the area, although seldom cause damage

Its larger islands include Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Santa Isabel, New Georgia and Makira.

-- POPULATION: In July 2012 the population was estimated to be 584,578, with Melanesians making up 94.5 percent. Indigenous Polynesians and migrant Micronesians also populate the islands.

-- RESOURCES: These include fish, forests, gold, bauxite, phosphates, lead, zinc and nickel.

-- HISTORY: Parts of the Solomons have been occupied for 20,000 years.

Spaniard Alvaro de Mendana arrived in 1568 to give it the name, believing the islands held the secret of Biblical King Solomon's gold.

In the late 19th century the British government established a protectorate over part of the Solomon Islands, which was later extended

The island of Guadalcanal was the site of the first major offensive by Allied forces against the Japanese empire in World War II

The Solomons became independent on July 7, 1978.

The Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General Frank Kabui.

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has held office since November 2011.