On 17 February 1568, the archipelago was discovered by Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendaña y Neyra, who named its Islas de Salomon.
In April 1885 a German protectorate (Schutzgebiet) was declared over the northern Solomon Islands: Bougainville, Buka, Choiseul, Santa Isabel and Ontong Java.
In 1893 the British declared a protectorate over the southern Solomon Islands of New Georgia, Guadalcanal, Malaita and San Cristobal, and this protectorate became known as the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. In 1898 Britain annexed the Santa Cruz and the Rennell and Bellona Islands.
In the year 1900, under the terms of Treaty of Berlin (14 November 1899), Germany transferred Choiseul, Santa Isabel, the Shortlands and Ontong Java Islands to the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, but retained Bougainville and its surrounding islands. Germany granted this claim in exchange for the British giving up all claims to Samoa.