- the largest of the Solomon Islands, in the W central Pacific: U.S. victory over the Japanese 1942–43. About 2500 sq. mi. (6475 sq. km).
- a mountainous island in the SW Pacific, the largest of the Solomon Islands: under British protection until 1978; occupied by the Japanese (1942–43). Pop: 109 382 (1999). Area: 6475 sq km (2500 sq miles)
Word Origin and History for guadalcanal
largest of the Solomon Islands, discovered 1568 by Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira and named for his hometown in Spain. The place name contains the Spanish form of Arabic wadi "river" which occurs in other Spanish place names (e.g. Guadalajara, from Arabic Wadi Al-Bajara "River of the Stones," either a parallel formation to or ultimately a translation of the ancient Iberian name for the river that gave the place its earlier name, based on caruca "stony;" Guadalquivir, from Arabic Al-Wadi Al-Kabir "Big River;" and Guadalupe, from the Arabic river word and the Roman name of the river, Lupus, literally "wolf").