Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD)

What Is the Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD)?

The Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD) is the national currency of the Solomon Islands, a sovereign nation located in the Pacific Ocean whose landmass consists of a chain of small islands. 

Key Takeaways

  • The Solomon Islands are an island chain in the Pacific Ocean.
  • They declared independence from Britain in 1978.
  • After using the British pound and the Australian dollar, they adopted their own currency in 1977.

Understanding the SBD

Originally a British protectorate, the Solomon Islands gained independence in 1978. Today, the country follows a constitutional monarchy structure, with a parliament and prime minister. Despite being an independent nation, the Solomon Islands continues to recognize Queen Elizabeth II as its constitutional head of state. English is the country’s official language.

Prior to using the SBD, the Solomon Islands previously used both the Australian dollar (AUD) and the British pound as their national currencies. In 1977, the nation replaced the AUD in favor of the SBD. Although the two currencies were initially valued equally, the SBD proceeded to dramatically lose its value relative to the AUD. In fact, the decline in the value of the SBD has been so severe that locals sometimes use other items in lieu of the national currency. For instance, dolphin teeth are commonly traded in lieu of the SBD within the region.

Today, the SBD is made up of 100 cents, with its coins issued in denominations of 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, and 50 cents, as well as in units of $1 and $2. Its banknotes, meanwhile, are issued in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $40, $50, and $100. Both the coins and the banknotes are controlled by the nation’s central bank, the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands.

Real-World Example of the SBD

The country experienced some civil unrest in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. A coup that followed led the country’s economy to the brink of collapse. The islands became insolvent in 2002, largely due to inconsistent infrastructure and unreliable transportation. Although the country has a tourism presence, they have been unable to create a more desirable vacation locale like some of their island counterparts.

The islands played an important role in World War II. The Japanese forces were occupying the islands in 1942. Their attempts at advancing further south were thwarted by the United States, but during the remaining years of the war, the two countries battled in and around the island chain. The fighting that took place in the region was said to be some of the most contentious in the Pacific. The Battle of Guadalcanal is thought to be a pivotal battle in the war, and the islanders were very supportive of the U.S. efforts during that time.