Choiseul Island - Settlements

Prior to pacification and Christianization, the bulk of the population lived inland on ridge tops, either in compact and sometimes fortified villages of up to fifty houses, or in small hamlets of a few houses each located closer to gardens. Large canoes and canoe houses were hidden in the coastal flats, which were too vulnerable to attack for permanent residence. The government and missions encouraged compact settlement on the coastal flats where health and educational services could be provided; by the beginning of World War II few inland villages remained, and today there are none. Most Villages are now rows of houses strung out along a flat of coastline and flanked with the coconut plantations owned and worked by some inhabitants. Houses, now as before, are made from palm and vine materials; most families now maintain a sleeping house (which may feature prestigious corrugated-iron roofing) raised off the sandy surface by stilts 1.2 to 1.5 meters high; behind it there is usually an on-the-ground cookhouse in which older people sleep to keep warm. Most villages have a houselike church that is used also as a school, and some have a dispensary stocked with minor medical supplies.

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