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Geography

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Bellona (Mungiki) and its neighbouring island, Rennell (Mugaba), constitute the southernmost and smallest province of the independent Melanesian nation Solomon Islands (a former British protectorate) but are inhabited by Polynesians. The combined land area of Bellona and Rennell is 1,154.5 square kilometres and located 190 kilometres SW of San Christobal. The two islands are 24 kilometres apart.
Bellona Island is about 10 kilometres long and 2.5 kilometres wide and 55 metres high. It is located northwest of Rennell, between 110 11´ South latitude and 1590 15´ East longitude.
Rennell Island is 79.5 kilometres long and 14 kilometres wide and 150 metres high and located between 110 34´and 110 47´South latitude and 1590 and 55´and 1600 37´East longitude.
The large, 176 kilometres uninhabited Indispensable Reefs lying 80 kilometres south of Bellona and Rennell, is called Ngotoakau and is claimed as part of this territory.
Tegano Lake on Rennell, the largest brackish lake in the Pacific, covers about 130 square kilometres at the east end of the island. There is no fresh water on any of the islands; rain is collected for daily use. Yearly precipitation is about 300 millimetres. The climate is tropical with temperatures from 170 Celsius at night to 340 Celsius during the daytime. There is no communal electric power but churches have generators run by diesel fuel and also solar energy supply is available.

Both islands are of the raised coral type (makatea). Apart from villages and garden areas, both islands are rocky and covered by tropical forest. There are no mammals except for flying foxes, rats, cats, and dogs. Rennell has two natural harbours; Bellona none.

Land ownership is hereditary within a patrilineal descent group, with an emphasis on male primogeniture. If a younger son possesses talents or virtues and is admired by the members of his lineage, he may inherit the major parts of his father’s land. As land is scarce and the population is growing rapidly, equal ownership has become increasingly difficult. Even before Contact with other cultures a landowner could grant usufruct privileges to others for a stipulated period. It is common for a mother’s brother (tu’atinana) to present his sister’s son with a land area, especially if he is fatherless. However, it is not uncommon for women to inherit land.