The Independent State of Samoa (conventional long form) or Samoa (conventional short form) is a country comprising a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Previous names are German Samoa from 1900 to 1914 and Western Samoa from 1914 to 1997.

Malo Sa'oloto Tuto'atasi o Samoa
Independent State of Samoa
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Faavae i le Atua Samoa (Samoa is founded on God)
Official languages Samoan, English
Capital Apia
Template:Coor dm
Head of State Malietoa Tanumafili II
Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 165th
2944 km²
 - Total
(Jul 2004 Est.)
 - Density
Ranked 173rd

 - Date
From New Zealand
January 1, 1962
Currency tala (WST)
Time zone UTC -11
National anthem The Banner of Freedom
Internet TLD .ws
Calling Code 685


Main article: History of Samoa

Migrants from Southeast Asia arrived in the Samoan islands more than 2000 years ago and from there settled the rest of Polynesia further to the east. Contact with Europeans began in the early 1700s but did not intensify until the arrival of English missionaries and traders in the 1830s. At the turn of the 20th century, the Samoan islands were split into two sections. The eastern islands became territories of the United States in 1904 and today are known as American Samoa. The western islands became known as German Samoa, then Western Samoa after passing from German control to New Zealand in 1914. Western Samoa was the first Pacific Island country to gain its independence.

In July 1997, the Constitution was amended to change the country's name from Western Samoa to Samoa. Samoa had been known simply as Samoa in the United Nations since joining the organization in 1976. The neighboring U.S. territory of American Samoa protested at the move, feeling that the change diminished its own Samoan identity. American Samoans still use the terms Western Samoa and Western Samoans.


Main article: Politics of Samoa

Since 1982, the majority party in the Fono has been the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP). HRPP leader Tofilau Eti Alesana served as prime minister for nearly all of the period between 1982 and 1998, when he resigned due to health reasons. Tofilau Eti was replaced by his deputy, Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi.

Parliamentary elections were held in March 2001. The Human Rights Protection Party, led by Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi, won 30 of the 49 seats in the current Fono. The Samoa National Development Party, led by Le Mamea Ropati, is the main opposition. Other political parties are the Samoan Progressive Conservative Party, the Samoa All Peoples Party, and the Samoa Liberal Party.


The 1960 Constitution, which formally came into force with independence, is based on the British pattern of parliamentary democracy, modified to take account of Samoan customs. Samoa's two high chiefs at the time of independence were given lifetime appointments to jointly hold the office of head of state. Malietoa Tanumafili II has held this post alone since the death of his colleague in 1963. His eventual successor will be selected by the legislature for a 5-year term.

The unicameral legislature, named the Fono, contains 49 members serving 5-year terms. Forty-seven are elected from territorial districts by ethnic Samoan districts; the other two are chosen by the nation's non-Samoans on separate electoral rolls. Universal suffrage was extended in 1990, but only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the Samoan seats. There are more than 25,000 matais in the country, about 5% of whom are women. The prime minister is chosen by a majority in the Fono and is appointed by the chief of state to form a government. The prime minister's choices for the 12 cabinet positions are appointed by the chief of state, subject to the continuing confidence of the Fono.

The judicial system is based on English common law and local customs. The Supreme Court is the court of highest jurisdiction. Its chief justice is appointed by the chief of state upon the recommendation of the prime minister.


Missing image
Map of Samoa
Map of Samoa
Map of Samoa

Main article: Geography of Samoa

Samoa is located east of the international dateline and south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand in the Polynesian region of the South Pacific. The Samoas are of volcanic origin and the total land area is 2934 sq km, consisting of the two large islands of Upolu and Savai'i which account for 96% of the total land area, and seven small islets: Manono, Apolima, Nuutele, Nuulua, Namua, Fanuatapu, Nuusafee and Nuulopa. The main island of Upolu is home to nearly three-quarters of Samoa's population and its capital city is Apia. The climate is tropical with the average annual temperature of 26.5?C, and a rainy season from November to April.


Main article: Economy of Samoa

The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, private family remittances from overseas, and agricultural exports. The country is vulnerable to devastating storms. Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labor force, and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil, and copra. Outside of a large automotive wire harness factory, the manufacturing sector mainly processes agricultural products. Tourism is an expanding sector; more than 70,000 tourists visited the islands in 1996. The Samoan Government has called for deregulation of the financial sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal discipline. Observers point to the flexibility of the labor market as a basic strength for future economic advances.


Main article: Demographics of Samoa

The Fa'a Samoa, or traditional Samoan way, remains a strong force in Samoan life and politics. Despite centuries of European influence, Samoa maintains its historical customs, social systems, and language, which is believed to be the oldest form of Polynesian speech still in existence. Only the Maori of New Zealand outnumber the Samoans among Polynesian groups.

98% of Samoans are Christians, divided among many different churches, among them Methodist, Latter Day Saints, Roman Catholic, and Seventh Day Adventists. Hardly any other religious group exists in Samoa, except for the Baha'is, which make up 2% of the population. The King of Samoa, King Malietoa Tanumafili, is a Baha'i.


Main article: Culture of Samoa

Miscellaneous topics


  • Eustis, Nelson. 1979. Aggie Grey of Samoa. Hobby Investments, Adelaide, South Australia. 2nd printing, 1980. ISBN 0-9595609-0-4.

External links

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