Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Guadalcanal, a 2,510 square mile (6,500 km²) island in the Pacific Ocean and a province of the Solomon Islands, is largely a jungle. The island became the scene of the important Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. The island contains the national capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara.
A Spanish expedition under Álvaro de Mendaña discovered the island in 1568. It was named by Mendaña's subordinate Pedro de Ortega after his home town in Andalusia, Guadalcanal. However, he could not spell the name properly (using variously Guadarcana, Guarcana, and Guadalcana), and it became subsequently known as Guadalcanar. Later it became part of the British Empire, and in 1932 the British changed the spelling to Guadalcanal.
Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor and Singapore, the Japanese forces advanced into the South Pacific, reaching Guadalcanal in May 1942. United States forces chose Guadalcanal for their first major large-scale invasion of a Japanese-held island. Guadalcanal became a major turning-point in the war.
The Battle of Cape Esperance was fought on October 11, 1942 on the northwest coast of Guadalcanal. In the battle, United States Navy ships intercepted and defeated a Japanese fleet on their way to reinforce troops on the island. US forces reinvaded and, after six months of fighting, managed to halt the Japanese advance, driving Japan's troops into the sea on January 15, 1943. American authorities declared Guadalcanal secure on February 9, 1943.
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