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Malo Sa'oloto Tuto'atasi o Samoa
Independent State of Samoa
Flag Coat of arms
MottoFa'avae i le Atua Samoa
(English: Samoa is founded on God)[1]
AnthemThe Banner of Freedom
(and largest city)
13°50′S 171°45′W / 13.833°S 171.75°W / -13.833; -171.75
Official language(s) Samoan, English
Demonym Samoan
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  O le Ao o le Malo
(Head of State)
Tufuga Efi
 -  Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi
Independence from New Zealand 
 -  Date 1 January 1962 
 -  Total 2,831 km2 (174th)
1,093 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.3%
 -  2009 estimate 179,000[2] (166th)
 -  2006 census 179,186 
 -  Density 63.2/km2 (134th)
163.7/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $1.088 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $5,674[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $500 million[3] 
 -  Per capita $2,608[3] 
HDI (2007) 0.785 (medium) (94th)
Currency Tala (WST)
Time zone (UTC-11)
Drives on the left1
Internet TLD .ws
Calling code 685
1 Since 7 September 2009.[4]

Samoa en-us-Samoa.ogg /səˈmoʊə/ , officially the Independent State of Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa and German Samoa), is a country governing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in Polynesia Savai'i. The capital city Apia and Faleolo International Airport are situated on the island of Upolu.

Samoa was admitted to the United Nations on 15 December 1976.[5] The entire island group, inclusive of American Samoa, was called Navigators Islands by European explorers before the 20th century because of the Samoans' seafaring skills.[6]



The Samoans originated from Austronesian predecessors during the terminal eastward Lapita expansion period from Southeast Asia and Melanesia approximately 1500 BCE.[citation needed] The Samoan origins are currently being reassessed due to new scientific evidence and carbon dating findings from 2003 and onwards.[citation needed]

Intimate sociocultural and genetic ties were maintained between the eastern Lapita colonies and the archaeological record supports oral tradition and native genealogies that indicate inter-island voyaging and intermarriage between prehistoric Samoans, Fijians, and Tongans.

Samoan girls making 'ava c. 1911
Interior of Samoan house, Apia, Urville 1842

Contact with Europeans began in the early 18th century. Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutchman, was the first known European to sight the Samoan islands in 1722. This visit was followed by a French explorer by the name of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, the man who named them the Navigator Islands in 1768. Contact was limited before the 1830s which is when English missionaries and traders began arriving. Mission work in Samoa had begun in late 1830 by John Williams, of the London Missionary Society arriving in Sapapali'i from The Cook Islands & Tahiti.[7] By that time, the Samoans had gained a reputation of being savage and warlike, as violent altercations had occurred between natives and French, British, German and American forces, who, by the late nineteenth century, valued Samoa as a refueling station for coal-fired shipping and whaling.

Wilhelm Solf, German governor of Samoa 1900-1910
Mata'afa Iosefo (1832-1912) paramount chief & rival for the kingship of Samoa

The Germans in particular began to show great commercial interest in the Samoan Islands, especially on the island of 'Upolu where German firms monopolized copra and cocoa bean processing; the United States laid its own claim and formed alliances with local native chieftains, most conspicuously on the islands of Tutuila and Manu'a (which were later formally annexed to the USA as American Samoa). Britain also sent troops to protect British business enterprise, harbor rights, and consulate office. There followed an eight-year civil war, where each of the three powers supplied arms, training, and in some cases, combat troops to the warring Samoan parties. All three sent warships into Apia harbour, and a larger-scale war seemed imminent, until a massive storm damaged or destroyed the warships, ending the military conflict.[8] At the turn of the twentieth century, the Tripartite Convention partitioned the Samoan Islands into two parts:[9] the eastern island group became a territory of the United States (the Tutuila Islands in 1900 and officially Manu'a in 1904) and is today known as American Samoa; the western islands, by far the greater landmass, became known as German Samoa after Britain vacated all claims to Samoa and accepted termination of German rights in Tonga and certain areas in the Solomon Islands and West Africa.[10] The first German Governor was Wilhelm Solf who later went on to become Secretary for the Colonies of Imperial Germany. New Zealand troops landed on 'Upolu unopposed on 29 August 1914 and seized control from the German authorities, following a request by Britain for New Zealand to perform their "great and urgent imperial service."[11]

In 1912, one of the changes, the German administration had apparently achieved its long-term objectives of understanding the traditional forces in Samoa politics, while maintaining a semblance of local participation in government. There was no more Tupu, nor even alii sili, but the two Fautua were appointed. Tumua and Pule were for a time silence; all decisions on matters affecting lands and titles were under the control of the Governor. To complete the process, the Fa’alupega for all Samoa was revised. The Fa’alupega which had been nationally accepted from at least the late 19th century (and probably for much longer than that) was as follows:

"Tulouna a Tumua ma Pule,
Tulouna a Itu’au ma Alataua,
Tulouna a Aiga-i-le-Tai,
Ma le Va’a-o-Fonoti,
Tulouna a Tama ma a latou aiga
Po’o aiga ma a latou tama".

This Fa’alupega firstly recognized the authority and identity of principal districts of Samoa through their spokesmen – Tumua ma Pule, Itu’au ma Alataua, Aiga-i-le-Tai, ma le Va'a-o-Fonoti – and the highest titles which were bestowed by these groups. It concludes with the recognition of the great maximal descent groups of Samoa and their “sons” who had been chosen to hold the highest titles.

The new Fa’alupega of German Samoa apparently required for Malietoa Tanunafili and Tupua Tamasese to be sworn on oath and to change this Samoa’s historical Fa’alupega to the new fa’alupega as follows:

"Tulouna a lana Maiesitete le Kaisa o le tupu mamalu o lo tatou malo kasialika aoao.
Tulouna a lana afioga le kovana kasialika o le sui o le kaisa I Samoa nei.
Susu mai Malietoa, Afio mai Tupua
Ua fa’amanatuiana ai aiga e lua I o oulua tofiga Kasialika o le Fautua.
Tulouna a le vasega a Faipule Kasialika o e lagolago malosi I le Malo.
Afifio mai le nofo a vasega o tofiga Kasialika o e usu fita I le tautua I le malo".

Exiled orator Lauaki Namulauulu Mamoe

From the end of World War I until 1962, New Zealand controlled Samoa as a Class C Mandate under trusteeship through the League of Nations.[12] There followed a series of New Zealand administrators who were responsible for two major incidents. In the first incident, approximately one fifth of the Samoan population died in the Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919.[13] In 1919 The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Epidemic concluded that there had been no epidemic of pneumonic influenza in Western Samoa before the arrival of the 'SS Talune' from Auckland on the 7 November 1918, [which was allowed to berth by the NZ administration in breach of quarantine]; that within seven days of this ship's arrival influenza had become epidemic in Upolu and had then spread rapidly throughout the rest of the territory.[14]

People in attendance at Tupua Tamesese's funeral.

The second major incident arose out of an initially peaceful protest by the Mau (literally translates as "strongly held opinion"), a non-violent popular movement which had its beginnings in the early 1900s on Savai'i and led by Lauaki Namulauulu Mamoe, an orator chief deposed by Solf. In 1909, Lauaki was exiled to Saipan and died en route back to Samoa in 1915.

By the late 1920s the resistance movement against colonial rule had gathered widespread support during the mistreatment of the Samoan people by the New Zealand administration. One of the Mau leaders was Olaf Frederick Nelson, a half Samoan and half Swedish merchant.[15] Nelson was eventually exiled during the late 1920s and early 1930s, but he continued to assist the organization financially and politically. In following the Mau's non-violent philosophy, the newly elected leader, High Chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi, led his fellow uniformed Mau in a peaceful demonstration in downtown Apia on 28 December 1929.[16] The New Zealand police attempted to arrest one of the leaders in the demonstration. When he resisted, a struggle developed between the police and the Mau. The officers began to fire randomly into the crowd and a Lewis machine gun, mounted in preparation for this demonstration, was used to disperse the Mau.[17] Chief Tamasese was shot from behind and killed while trying to bring calm and order to the Mau demonstrators, screaming "Peace, Samoa". Ten others died that day and approximately 50 were injured by gunshot wounds and police batons.[18] That day would come to be known in Samoa as Black Saturday. The Mau grew, remaining steadfastly non-violent, and expanded to include a highly influential women's branch. After repeated efforts by the Samoan people, Western Samoa gained independence in 1962 and signed a Friendship Treaty with New Zealand. Samoa was the first country in the Pacific to become independent.

In 2002, New Zealand's prime minister Helen Clark, on a trip to Samoa, formally apologised for New Zealand's role in these two incidents.[19][20]

In July 1997, the constitution was amended to change the country's name from Western Samoa to Samoa.[21] The U.S. territory of American Samoa protested the move, asserting that the change diminished its own identity. American Samoans still use the terms Western Samoa and Western Samoans to describe the independent State of Samoa and its inhabitants. While the two Samoas share language and ethnicity, their cultures have recently followed different paths, with American Samoans often emigrating to Hawaiʻi and the U.S. mainland, and adopting many U.S. customs, such as the playing of American football and baseball. Western Samoans have tended to emigrate instead to New Zealand, whose influence has made the sports of rugby and cricket more popular in the western islands. Travel writer Paul Theroux noted that there were marked differences between the societies in Samoa and American Samoa.

Effective 7 September 2009, the government has changed the driving orientation for motorists and Samoans now drive on the left side of the road. This brings Samoa into line with many other countries in the region. Samoa is the first country in recent years, and the first country in the 21st century, to switch to driving on the left.[22]



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Government buildings in Apia

The 1960 Constitution, which formally came into force with independence from New Zealand in 1962, is based on the British pattern of parliamentary democracy, modified to take account of Samoan customs.[23] The national modern Government of Samoa is referred to as the 'Malo'. Samoa's first Prime Minister was Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu’u II, one of the four highest ranking paramount chiefs in the country. Two other paramount chiefs at the time of independence were appointed joint heads of state for life. Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole, who died in 1963, leaving Malietoa Tanumafili II sole head of state until his death on 11 May 2007, upon which Samoa became, de jure, a republic. The next Head of State Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi was elected by the legislature on 17 June 2007 for a fixed 5 year term.[24]

The unicameral legislature (Fono) consists of 49 members serving 5-year terms. Forty-seven are elected from territorial districts by ethnic Samoans; the other two are chosen by non-Samoans with no chiefly affiliation on separate electoral rolls.[25] 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.[26] The prime minister is chosen by a majority in the Fono and is appointed by the head of state to form a government. The prime minister's choices for the 12 cabinet positions are appointed by the head of state, subject to the continuing confidence of the Fono. Prominent women in Samoan politics include the late Laulu Fetauimalemau Mata'afa (1928–2007) from Lotofaga constituency, the wife of Samoa's first prime minister. Their daughter Fiame Naomi Mata'afa is a paramount chief and is a long serving senior member of cabinet. Other women in politics include Samoan scholar and eminent professor Aiono Fanaafi Le Tagaloa and orator chief Matatumua Maimoana.

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

Political districts

Samoa is made up of eleven itūmālō (political districts). These are the traditional eleven districts that were established well before European arrival. Each district has its own constitutional foundation (faavae) based on the traditional order of title precedence found in each district's faalupega (traditional salutations).

The capital village of each district administers and coordinates the affairs of the district and confers each districts' paramount title, amongst other responsibilities. For example, the District of A'ana has its capital at Leulumoega. The paramount title of A'ana is the TuiA'ana. The orator group which confers this title - the Faleiva (House of Nine) - is based at Leulumoega. This is also the same for the other districts. In the district of Tuamasaga, the paramount title of the district - The Malietoa title - is conferred by the FaleTuamasaga based in Afega.

Political Districts of Samoa
  1. Upolu (including minor islands)

  2. Tuamasaga (Afega)
  3. A'ana (Leulumoega)
  4. Aiga-i-le-Tai (Mulifanua)1
  5. Atua (Lufilufi)2
  6. Va'a-o-Fonoti (Samamea)
  1. Fa'asaleleaga (Safotulafai)
  2. Gaga'emauga (Saleaula)3
  3. Gaga'ifomauga (Safotu)
  4. Vaisigano (Asau)
  5. Satupa'itea (Satupa'itea)
  6. Palauli (Vailoa)

1 including islands Manono, Apolima and Nu'ulopa
2 including the Aleipata Islands and Nu'usafe'e Island
3 smaller parts also on Upolu (Salamumu (incl. Salamumu-Utu) and Leauvaa villages)


Map of Samoa
View from Le Mafa Pass, east Upolu.

The country is located east of the international date line and south of the equator, about halfway between Hawai‘i and New Zealand in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. The total land area is 2934 km² (1133 sq mi) (slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Rhode Island), consisting of the two large islands of Upolu and Savai'i which account for 99% of the total land area, and eight small islets: the three islets in the Apolima Strait (Manono Island, Apolima and Nu'ulopa), the four Aleipata Islands off the eastern end of Upolu (Nu'utele, Nu'ulua, Namua, and Fanuatapu), and Nu'usafe'e (less than 0.01 km² - 2½ acres - in area and about 1.4 km (0.9 mi) off the south coast of Upolu at the village of Vaovai).[1] The main island of Upolu is home to nearly three-quarters of Samoa's population, and its capital city is Apia. The climate is equatorial/monsoonal, with an average annual temperature of 26.5°C (79.7°F), and a rainy season from November to April.[27] Savai'i is the largest of the Samoan islands and the sixth largest Polynesian island after New Zealand's North, South and Stewart Islands and the Hawaiian islands of Hawaiʻi and Maui. The population of Savai'i is 42,000 people.


Climate data for Apia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30
Average low °C (°F) 24
Precipitation mm (inches) 419
Source:"Apia climate guide". 


The Samoan islands have been produced by vulcanism, the source of which is the Samoa hotspot which is the probable result of a mantle plume.[28][29] While all of the islands have volcanic origins, only Savai'i, the western most island in Samoa, is volcanically active with the most recent eruptions in Mt Matavanu (1905–1911), Mata o le Afi (1902) and Mauga Afi (1725). The highest point in Samoa is Mt Silisili, at 1858 m (6,096 ft). The Saleaula lava fields situated on the central north coast of Savai'i are the result of the Mt Matavanu eruptions which left 50 km² (20 sq mi) of solidified lava.[30]


Taro, a root crop, traditionally was Samoa's largest export, generating more than half of all export revenue in 1993. But a fungal blight decimated the plants, and in each year since 1994 taro exports have accounted for less than 1% of export revenue.

The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, private family remittances from overseas, and agricultural exports. Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labour force, and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil, noni (juice of the nonu fruit, as it is known in Samoan), and copra.[31] Outside of a large automotive wire harness factory (Yazaki Corporation), the manufacturing sector mainly processes agricultural products. Tourism is an expanding sector which now accounts for 25% of GDP. Tourist arrivals have been increasing over the years with more than 100,000 tourists visiting the islands in 2005, up from 70,000 in 1996. The Samoan government has called for deregulation of the financial sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal discipline.[citation needed] Observers point to the flexibility of the labour market as a basic strength for future economic advances.[citation needed] The sector has been helped enormously by major capital investment in hotel infrastructure, political instability in neighboring Pacific countries, and the 2005 launch of Polynesian Blue a joint-venture between the government and Virgin Airlines.

Samoa is a fertile, fruitful, productive archipelago. In the period before German colonization, it produced mostly copra. German merchants and settlers were active in introducing large scale plantation operations and developing new industries, notably cocoa bean and rubber, relying on imported labourers from China and Melanesia. When the value of natural rubber fell drastically, about the end of the Great War (World War I), the New Zealand government encouraged the production of bananas, for which there is a large market in New Zealand.[citation needed]

Because of variations in altitude, a large range of tropical and subtropical crops can be cultivated, but land is not generally available to outside interests. Of the total land area of 2,934 km² (725,000 acres), about 24.4% is in permanent crops and another 21.2% is arable. About 4.4% is Western Samoan Trust Estates Corporation (WSTEC).[citation needed]

The staple products of Samoa are copra (dried coconut meat), cocoa bean (for chocolate), and bananas. The annual production of both bananas and copra has been in the range of 13,000 to 15,000 metric tons (about 14,500 to 16,500 short tons). If the rhinoceros beetle in Samoa were eradicated, Samoa could produce in excess of 40,000 metric tons (44,000 short tons) of copra. Samoan cocoa beans are of very high quality and used in fine New Zealand chocolates. Most are Criollo-Forastero hybrids. Coffee grows well, but production has been uneven. WSTEC is the biggest coffee producer. Rubber has been produced in Samoa for many years, but its export value has little impact on the economy.[citation needed]

Other agricultural industries have been less successful. Sugarcane production, originally established by Germans in the early 20th century, could be successful. Old train tracks for transporting cane can be seen at some plantations east of Apia. Pineapples grow well in Samoa, but beyond local consumption have not been a major export.

Components of the economy

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2006 was estimated at $1.218 billion USD.[citation needed] The industrial sector is the largest component of GDP at 58.4%, followed by the services sector at 30.2% (2004 est.). Agriculture represents only 11.4% of GDP (2004 est.). Samoan labor force is estimated at 90,000.[citation needed]


A Samoan family.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Samoa has a population of 182,265 of which 92.6% are Samoans, 7% Euronesians (persons of European and Polynesian blood) and 0.4% are Europeans. About three-quarters of the population live on the main island of Upolu.[23] Only the Māori of New Zealand outnumber Samoans among Polynesian groups.

Samoans' religious adherence includes the following: Christian Congregational Church of Samoa 35.5%, Roman Catholic 19.6%, Methodist 15%, Latter-day Saints 12.7%, Samoan Assemblies of God 10.6%, Seventh-day Adventist 3.5%, Worship Centre 1.3%, unspecified 0.8% (2001 census).[32] The Head of State until 2007, His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, was a Bahá'í convert. Samoa hosts one of seven Bahá'í Houses of Worship in the world; completed in 1984 and dedicated by the Head of State, it is located in Tiapapata, 8 km (5 mi) from Apia.


Roman Catholic cathedral Immaculate Conception of Mary

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 and political systems, and language.

Samoan mythology include many gods with creation stories and figures of legend such as Tagaloa and the goddess of war Nafanua, the daughter of Saveasi'uleo, ruler of the spirit realm Pulotu. Other legends include the well known story of Sina and the Eel which explains the origins of the first coconut tree.

Samoans are deeply spiritual and religious people, and have subtly adapted the dominant religion of Christianity to 'fit in' with fa'a Samoa and vice versa. As such, ancient beliefs continue to co-exist side-by-side with Christianity, particularly in regard to the traditional customs and rituals of fa'a Samoa. The Samoan culture is centered around the principle of vāfealoa'i, the relationships between people. These relationships are based on respect, or fa'aaloalo. When Christianity was introduced in Samoa, most Samoan people converted. Currently 98% of the population identify themselves as Christian. The other 2 percent either identify themselves as irreligious, or do not belong to any congregation.

Pe'a Samoan male tattoo

The Samoans have a communal way of life with little privacy. They do almost all their activities collectively. An example of this are the traditional Samoan fales (houses) which are open with no walls, using blinds made of coconut palm fronds during the night or bad weather.

A Samoan woman with a traditional malu.

As with other main Polynesian cultures Hawai'ian, Tahitian and Māori with significant and unique tattoos, Samoans have two gender specific and culturally significant tattoos. For males, it is called the Pe'a and consists of intricate and geometrical patterns tattooed that cover areas from the knees up towards the ribs. A male who possesses such a tatau is called a soga'imiti. A Samoan girl or teine is given a malu, which covers the area from just below her knees to her upper thighs.[33]

The Samoan word for dance is Siva with unique gentle movements of the body in time to music and which tells a story, although the Samoan male dances can be more physical and snappy.[34] The "Sasa" is also a traditional Samoan dance, in which rows of dancers perform rapid synchronised movements in time to the rhythmn of wooden drums or rolled mats. Another dance, performed by males is called the Fa'ataupati or the slap dance, creating rhythmic sounds by slapping different parts of the body. This is believed to have been derived from slapping insects on the body.

The form and construction of traditional architecture of Samoa was a specialised skill by Tufuga fai fale that also linked to other cultural artforms.

Contemporary Culture

Albert Wendt is a significant Samoan writer whose novels and stories tell the Samoan experience. In 1989, his novel Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree was made into a feature film in New Zealand, directed by Martyn Sanderson.[35] Another novel Sons for the Return Home had also been made into a feature film in 1979, directed by Paul Maunder.[36] Other Samoan poets and writers include Sapa'u Ruperake Petaia, Eti Sa'aga and Savea Sano Malifa, the editor of the Samoa Observer. The late John Kneubuhl, born in American Samoa, was an accomplished playwright and screenwriter and writer Sia Figiel won the 1997 Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Momoe Von Reiche is an internationally recognised poet and artist. Popular bands include The Five Stars, Penina o Tiafau and Punialava'a. There are also many contemporary Samoan artists living around the world. These Samoan artists include writers, filmmakers, visual artists, actors, directors, singers and dancers. In contemporary dance in New Zealand Lemi Ponifasio is a director and choreographer[37] and Neil Ieremia'sc company Black Grace has received international acclaim with tours to Europe and New York. The arts organisation Tautai is a collective of visual artists including Fatu Feu'u, Johnny Penisula, Shigeyuki Kihara, Iosefa Leo, Michel Tuffery, John Ioane and Lily Laita.[38] In film, director Sima Urale is an award winning filmmaker. Urale's short film O Tamaiti won the prestigious Best Short Film at the Venice Film Festival in 1996. Her first feature film Apron Strings opened the 2008 NZ International Film Festival. The feature film Siones Wedding co-written by Oscar Kightley was financially successful following premieres in Auckland and Apia. In music, the cover of the song Sweet Inspiration by The Yandall Sisters reached number one on the charts while King Kapisi was the first hip hop artist to receive the prestigious New Zealand APRA Silver Scroll Award in 1999 for his song Reverse Resistance. His music video Reverse Resistance was filmed in Savai'i at his villages. Other successful Samoan hip hop artists include rapper Scribe, Dei Hamo, Savage and Tha Feelstyle whose music video Suamalie was filmed in Samoa. In comedy, Laughing Samoans, the Naked Samoans and Kila Kokonut Krew have enjoyed sold out tours. Actor and director Nathaniel Lees has featured in many theatre productions and films including his role as Captain Mifune in The Matrix movie trilogy. In theatre, published playwrights include Oscar Kightley, Victor Rodger, Makerita Urale and Niuean Samoan playwright Dianna Fuemana.[39] Tusiata Avia is a performance poet. Her first book of poetry Wild Dogs Under My Skirt was published by Victoria University Press in 2004.

International influences like hip hop impact on Samoan culture. According to Katerina Martina Teaiwa, PhD from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, "Hip hop culture in particular is popular amongst Samoan youth."[40] This is not surprising considering the large amounts of migration between Samoa, Hawaii, and the United States mainland, specifically California. In addition, the integration of hip hop elements into Samoan tradition also "testifies to the transferability of the dance forms themselves," and to the "circuits through which people and all their embodied knowledge travel."[41] Dance both in its traditional form and its more modern forms has remained a central cultural currency to Samoans, especially youths.[40]


The main sports played in Samoa are Rugby Union, Samoan cricket and netball. Rugby Union is the national football code of Samoa. In Samoan villages, volleyball is also popular.

Samoa (blue) vs. South Africa in June 2007.

Rugby union is very popular in Samoa and the national team, nicknamed the Manu Samoa, is consistently competitive against teams from vastly more populous nations. Samoa has competed at every Rugby World Cup since 1991, and made the quarter finals in 1991, 1995 and the second round of the 1999 world cup.[42] At the 2003 world cup, Manu Samoa came close to beating eventual world champions, England. Samoa also played in the Pacific Nations Cup and the Pacific Tri-Nations The sport is governed by the Samoa Rugby Football Union, who are members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance, and thus, also contribute to the international Pacific Islanders rugby union team. At club level there is the National Provincial Championship and Pacific Rugby Cup Prominent Samoan players include Pat Lam and Brian Lima. In addition there are many Samoans that have played for or are playing for the New Zealand All Blacks. They also took home the cup at Wellington and the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens in 2007 - for which the Prime Minister of Samoa, also Chairman of the national rugby union, Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, declared a national holiday.

Rugby league is also popular amongst Samoans, with Samoa reaching the quarter finals of the 2000 Rugby League World Cup. Many Samoans and New Zealanders or Australians of Samoan descent play in the Super League and National Leagues in Britain. Examples are Va'aiga Lealuga Tuigamala who represented the New Zealand All Blacks, then became the first million dollar player to be contracted out to Rugby League to play for Wigan, then played Rugby Union for Newcastle Falcons before representing Samoa. Ta'ane Lavulavu of Workington Town, Maurie Fa'asavalu of St Helens and David Fatialofa of Whitehaven.

Samoans have been very visible in boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, and sumo; some Samoan sumos, most famously Musashimaru and Konishiki have reached the highest rank of Ozeki and yokozuna. Despite the relatively small population of the islands many Samoans and people of Samoan descent have reached high ranks in many professional sports leagues.

American Football is played limitedly in Samoa, and about 30 ethnic Samoans, many from American Samoa (where the sport is played under high school sanction), currently play in the National Football League. A 2002 article from ESPN estimated that a Samoan male (either an American Samoan, or a Samoan living in mainland United States) is 40 times more likely to play in the NFL than a non-Samoan American.[43]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Samoa an Overview". Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  2. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. Retrieved 12 March 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Samoa". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "List of Member States: S". United Nations. Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  6. ^ "Samoa - The Heart of Polynesia". Polynesian Culture Center. Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  7. ^ Watson, R.M. (1919). History of Samoa: THE ADVENT OF THE MISSIONARY. (1830.1839). Chapter III. 
  8. ^ Stevenson, Robert Louis. A Footnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 1-4264-0754-8. 
  9. ^ Ryden, George Herbert. The Foreign Policy of the United States in Relation to Samoa. New York: Octagon Books, 1975. (Reprint by special arrangement with Yale University Press. Originally published at New Haven: Yale University Press, 1928), p. 574; the Tripartite Convention (United States, Germany, Great Britain) was signed at Washington on 2 December 1899 with ratifications exchanged on 16 February 1900
  10. ^ Ryden, p. 571
  11. ^ "New Zealand goes to war: The Capture of German Samoa". Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  12. ^ "Imperialism as a Vocation: Class C Mandates". Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  13. ^ "The 1918 flu pandemic". Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  14. ^ Albert Wendt. "Guardians and Wards: (A study of the origins, causes, and the first two years of the Mau in Western Samoa.)". 
  15. ^ "Nelson, Olaf Frederick 1883 - 1944". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  16. ^ "The Mau Movement" (PDF). Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  17. ^ Field, Michael (2006). Black Saturday: New Zealand's tragic blunders in Samoa. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed Publishing (NZ). ISBN 0790011034. 
  18. ^ "History and migration: Who are the Samoans?". Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  19. ^ "New Zealand's apology to Samoa". 
  20. ^ "Prime Minister Helen Clark's Historic Apology". 
  21. ^ "Constitution Amendment Act (No 2) 1997". Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  22. ^ "Samoa switches to driving on left". BBC News. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  23. ^ a b "Background Note: Samoa". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  24. ^ New Zealand Herald. "New head of state for Samoa". Retrieved 16 June 2007. 
  25. ^ "Samoa: Key Facts: Political". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade. Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  26. ^ "Samoa: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 2006". U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  27. ^ "Smaoa: Climate". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  28. ^ Koppers, Anthony A.P.; Russell, Jackson, Konter, Staudigel, and Hart (June 2008). "Samoa reinstated as a primary hotspot trail". Geology (The Geological Society of America) 36 (6): 435–438. doi:10.1130/G24630A.1. 
  29. ^ GSA Press Release - GEOLOGY/GSA Today Media Highlights
  30. ^ Savai'i - An Introduction, Samoa Tourism Authority.
  31. ^ "Samoa: Economy". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  32. ^ "Samoa: People; Religions". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  33. ^ "Worn With Pride > Tatau (Tatoo)". Oceanside Museum of Art. Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  34. ^ "Dance: Siva". Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ a b Dances of Life | American Samoa
  41. ^ Henderson, April K. “Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and the Samoan Diaspora.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 180-199. London; Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press, 2000
  42. ^ "Rugby in Samoa". Retrieved 26 November 2007. 
  43. ^ "American football, Samoan style". ESPN. Retrieved 26 November 2007. 

Further reading

  • Watson, RM, History of Samoa (Wellington, 1918)
  • Schnee, Dr. Heinrich (former Deputy Governor of German Samoa and last Governor of German East Africa). 1926. German Colonization, Past and Future—The Truth about the German Colonies. London: George Allen & Unwin.
  • Eustis, Nelson. [1979] 1980. Aggie Grey of Samoa. Adelaide, South Australia: Hobby Investments. ISBN 0-9595609-0-4.
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. A Footnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 1-4264-0754-8. 

External links

General information

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Samoa
For other places with the same name, see Samoa (disambiguation).
Quick Facts
Capital Apia
Government Constitutional monarchy under native chief
Currency Tala (WST)
Area total: 2,944 sq km

water: 10 sq km land: 2,934 sq km

Population 178,631 (July 2002 est.)
Language Samoan (Polynesian), English
Religion Christian 99.7% (about one-half of population associated with the London Missionary Society; includes Congregational, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Latter-Day Saints, Seventh-Day Adventist)
Calling Code +685
Internet TLD .ws
Time Zone UTC -11

Samoa [1] is an island in the Pacific Ocean. It is part of the region of the world known as Polynesia.

It is a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand. The islands have narrow coastal plains with volcanic, rocky, rugged mountains in the interior.

  • Apia
    Shopping, restaurants, public market. There are half a dozen bars in Apia. Beer can be bought at any corner store


Samoa is composed largely of two islands, Upolu and Savai'i. These islands are the result of countless volcanic eruptions, leaving easily visible volcanic cones all over both islands. None of the volcanoes are currently active, but small earthquakes often rock the island, reminding people of their presence. The last eruption was in 1911 on Savaii.

The eerie, lifeless lava fields that remain from this event can be visited easily, since the only sealed road on Savai'i goes right through the middle.

Both islands are almost entirely covered by lush vegetation, although almost none of it is the original rainforest that covered the island before humans arrived. Most of the land area is given over to plantations or semi-cultivated forest, providing food and cash crops for the locals. Since Samoa has been inhabited for over three and a half thousand years, the cultivated lands around villages can often seem like deepest, darkest jungle to a foreigner(palangi).

Map of Samoa
Map of Samoa


The climate is tropical with a rainy (and tropical cyclone) season from October to March and a dry season from May to October. It has an average annual temperature of 26.5°C. This makes it a suitable winter vacation destination for southern hemisphere countries.


New Zealand occupied the German protectorate of Western Samoa at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. It continued to administer the islands as a mandate and then as a trust territory until 1962, when the islands became the first Polynesian nation to reestablish independence in the 20th century. The country dropped the "Western" from its name in 1997.

National holiday : Independence Day Celebration, 1 June

The 19th season of Survivor was filmed on the island of Upolu in mid 2009. The 20th season will also be filmed in Samoa, the location is still unknown.


Samoa is a Republic governed by an elected council, or fono.

Local government is by village in the form of a Matai, or chief.

The legal system is based on English common law and local customs.


The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, family remittances from overseas, and agricultural exports. The country is vulnerable to tropical storms, and was hit by two cyclones in quick succession in 1991.

Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labor force, and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil, and copra. The manufacturing sector mainly processes agricultural products.

The decline of fish stocks in the area is a continuing problem, due to both local overfishing and severe overfishing by Japanese factory trawlers. Tourism is an expanding sector, accounting for 16% of GDP; about 85,000 tourists visited the islands in 2000.

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. Foreign reserves are in a relatively healthy state, foreign debt is stable, and inflation is low.

Get in

By plane

There is one international airport, Faleolo (IATA: APW), which is approximately a 1 hour drive from Apia.

Air New Zealand provides 3 to 4 flights per week from Auckland. They also fly a weekly service between Auckland-Tonga-Apia-Los Angeles.

Polynesian Blue, a subsidiary of Virgin Blue, has started flying between Apia and a series of cities in Australia and New Zealand, such as Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Melbourne and Auckland.

By boat

People sail their yachts to Samoa and dock at Apia.

A twice monthly service by the MV Tokelau leaves from Apia Harbour and runs to Tokelau.

Ports and harbors include Apia, Asau, Mulifanua, Salelologa. Container ships and cruise liners dock in Apia Harbour or Salelologa, but many smaller fishing boats and village boats use the smaller docks.

You can sail to or from there by Tallship - the STV SOREN LARSEN from NZ, sails through there each winter - see

Get around


Generally your best bet. They are cheap and plentiful. The Samoa Visitor's Bureau has a price list for Apia. Do agree on a price ahead of time; if they think you look rich they may try to overcharge you. You can get one for a whole day for about the same price as a rental car. A taxi from one end of Apia to the other should only cost about 40-50 Tala.

Car Rental

As international driving licences are not accepted you need to obtain a temporary local licence. These are easy to get from the police station in Apia or direct from a number of car rental firms.

Traffic in Samoa drives on the left.


Cheap but is a good experience for Westerners. A ride on the bus will be a memorable experience


Possible and quite enjoyable but 'Upolu has a few fairly steep and hilly sections and the cross island roads are about 7kms steep uphill to their crests. Savai'i has only 2 or 3 small steep sections (around the western end).


Languages spoken include Samoan (a Polynesian language) and English.

  • Currency : Tala (WST)

Local laws make it illegal to trade in Samoa in a foreign currency.

Samoa is relatively inexpensive for western visitors. Haggling is not customary.

  • Apia Public Market. Great place to buy Siapo (tapas cloth), 'ava (kava), hand carved kava bowls, produce, donuts, etc.  edit
  • Apia Flea Market, In the 'old' public market building.  edit
  • Palolo Deep Marine Reserve, Vaiala Beach, Apia. The only beach in Apia to the East of the harbour. Not really much a beach, though, it's mostly coral gravel. It's an official underwater park. The snorkelling initially seems pretty poor but if you venture further out (probably a good quarter mile swim) it gets a bit more interesting with the occasional turtle and black tip reef shark. Ask at the entrance where to swim - there's a marker post that helps. If you are stuck in Apia it's not a bad way to kill a few hours or just hang out at the "beach". You can rent snorkels here although seriously bring your own. Also check the tide chart at the gate before you pay, at low tide there is a long paddle out over very sharp coral to get anywhere deep enough to snorkel. $3 USD.  edit
  • Vailima Brewery Tour, Vailima, Upolu (10 minute drive west of Apia), (685) 20 200 (), [2]. Make reservations because tours are only given on certain days. Free.  edit
  • Aggie Grey's ''Fia Fia'', Aggie Grey's Hotel, (685) 22880 (), [3]. Every Wednesday evening. This is a must-see. Traditional Samoan dancing, singing, drumming, and the amazing fire-knife dance! Fia fia literally means "happy," although it really means "party hardy". As long as you're there you might as well splurge on Aggie's buffet dinner, which is very good. This isn't the only fia fia in Samoa, but it is the best.  edit
  • Penina Golf Club, Penina Golf Club (, (685) 770 4653 (), [4]. The Penina is a new 18 hole par 72 championship course located adjacent to the Aggie Grey resort. The course features all modern conveniences: driving range, new Club Car golf carts, new Cobra rental clubs right and left handed men’s and women’s, toilet facilities on the course, and snacks on the course.  edit


The usual kinds of European, Asian and fast foods are available, but be sure to try the "umu", which is a traditional pit-oven, using red hot lava stones heated by charcoal. Whole pigs, fruits, chickens, fish, etc, are placed among the rocks for many hours, and covered with banana leaves. The food has an absolutely delicious smoked flavour, and meats are as tender and juicy as possible.

Most places are casual and inexpensive.

  • Apia Yacht Club, (On the peninsula on the west side of the city. Take a taxi, it's quite a walk.). Great waterfront dining. Expat hangout. Despite the name, it's totally a flip-flops and t-shirt type joint.  edit
  • Rainforest Cafe, Central Apia near the police station. Good food, good price.  edit


Samoa brews the amazing Vailima [5] beer. Even Germans say it's good beer, probably because the brewery was founded by a German. It sure kicks the snot out of Hinano [6] (yeah take that, Tahiti). It's cheap and you can buy it everywhere. Sure you can get other beers in Samoa, like Tabu or Heineken, but why would you want to?

Liquor is plentiful in the bars. There's not that much in most stores and it tends to be expensive. Le Well near the market (ask any taxi driver) has a good range at the best prices. It's a good idea to bring your own bottle in if you plan on drinking a lot of hooch.

Unfortunately the government shut down most of the popular and legendary bars and night spots in Apia in 2006, citing underage drinking, drugs, noise, and crime. They were reopened several weeks later. There are lots of smaller bars and night spots to check out. Also every hotel has a bar as do most of the restaurants.

  • The Hot and Spicy, (Near Aggie Grey's). Bar, music. Interior is in good shape.  edit
  • Aggie Grey's Hotel & Bungalows (Not to be confused with the new Aggie Grey's Resort), Downtown Apia (On the main drag, can't miss it), (685) 22880 (, fax: (685) 23626), [7]. The most upscale hotel in Apia. Aggie Greys started as a hamburger stand for allied GIs during WWII and has become something of a legend. Nice pool, several bars. The Fiafia is an must-see. It's not a good place for budget travelers. The staff can be a little bit ornery although not outright rude. It's definitely worth spending one night here just for the history behind it. Spring for a garden bungalo, they are way cool. Starts around $130 US.  edit
  • Seaside Inn, Downtown Apia, (685) 22578 (, fax: (685) 22918), [8]. Excellent choice for budget travelers. Short walk to downtown. Deck with a bar and a bit of a view. Serves food. Kitchen, laundry, and internet access. Short walk to under water preserve. Best deal in Apia.  edit
  • Samoan Outrigger Hotel, Downtown Apia, near the hospital, (685) 20042 (). A prime choice for medical students doing their electives at the local hospital. Run by a Danish bloke and his Samoan wife. Clean and friendly with a pool and beautiful gardens. Option of staying in a traditional fale (very economical) or air conditioned rooms. Discounts can sometimes be negotiated for longer stays during medical electives, etc. $16 for a fale to $40 for single occupancy rooms.  edit
  • Taufua Beach Fales, Lalomanu, Upolu (Take the cross island rd or the shore rd, it's about the same either way.), (++685) 41051 (, fax: (++685) 41347), [9]. Arguably the best place to stay on Upolu with the best beach on the island. The reef inside the lagoon is healthy and teeming with life. There is a dive shop on premises that can also organize snorkeling and surfing trips. The fales are basic but in good shape and are right on the beach. It's social but also quiet (except for the constant pounding of the surf out on the reef). Meals are served long table style and are a mix of western, eastern, and traditional Samoan food. Bar on premises. Internet access available. Bodega 5 minute walk away for beer and basic food. There's a couple other places to eat and drink on this beach if you feel like some variety but there's nothing fancy. Take the cross island road and check out Goldfish Lake on the way.  edit
  • Namua Beach Fales, Namu'a Island. Includes meals and launch transfer. This place should definitely be included in your itinerary. 70 tala per per night (as at July '05).  edit
  • Sunset View Fales, Lepuia'I Village, Manono Island, 45640, [10]. Tranquil Manono island - no vehicles - no roads - no dogs. Free launch transfer from 'Upolu. All meals included. Boat trips to reef. Outrigger canoe. 5 fales on the waters edge. Samoan family environment. Ferry wharf phone: 46177 90 tala per night (as at July '05).  edit
  • Utusou Beach Fales, Falealupo-tai, Savai'i (just south of Tanumatius Beach Fales). 2 fales on beautiful secluded beach. Run by Tafa & Salia Seumanutata and their family who really look after you (and if you're lucky tell some excellent stories.) 50 WST per night including meals.  edit

Stay safe

Samoa is a safe destination. Crime rates are low and people very helpful and friendly.

Stay healthy

Samoa is a malaria free zone. However, there are occasional outbreaks of Dengue Fever and so precautions should be taken such as mosquito nets and insect repellent.

Drink bottled water. It's cheap and readily available.

There are no known poisonous animals or insects on land, although centipedes can give you a very painful bite.

In the water beware of purple cone shells, sea urchins, sharks, fire coral, etc.


Samoa is quite religious, with most of the population following one of the Christian denominations. This means Sunday is generally respected as a holy day and most shops and businesses are closed. You should not walk through villages on Sundays.

Samoan culture is governed by strict protocols and etiquette. Although allowances are made for foreigners, it is wise to avoid revealing clothing and to comply with village rules which are enforced by the village matai (chiefs), although Apia is quite relaxed in these traditions.

Women going topless is taboo, and they should only wear swimwear at the beach. Shorts should be knee length. Shirts should be worn when not at the beach. A lavalava (sarong) is nearly always acceptable attire.

Other simple things, such as removing shoes before entering a house (or, for that matter, budget accommodation), should be observed.

The main island of Upolu is known as the "modern" island, where most northern coast villages are quite relaxed with the old strict traditions, whilst Savai'i is the more traditional island, but has become more relaxed -- but nude bathing is taboo.


Samoa has an adequate telephone system with international calling. Some villages have public phones available and require a pre-paid phone card. and Lesamoa are the only Internet Service Providers, but there are at least two public Internet access points in Apia, where fast, reliable access can be had for around 12 tala (4 US dollars) per hour.

The CSL cafe across the road from McDonalds has fast internet connection for around 5 tala per 30 min. You can also buy credit there (~70 tala for 10 h) to use your laptop at wifi lavaspots at various locations around town, eg CSL, McDonalds, Aggie Greys, Cappucino Vineyard, La Manumea, etc.[11] The lavaspot connection and download speed is very good.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SAMOA, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, about 150 m. N. of Tonga and nearly midway between the New Hebrides and Tahiti, 1600 m. from Auckland (New Zealand), 2410 from Sydney and 4200 from San Francisco. (For Map, see Pacific Ocean.) It consists of 14 islands forming a slightly curved chain from W. by N. to E. by S., between 13° 3 o' and 14° 3 o' S., 168° and 173° W. as follows: Savaii, Manono, Apolima, Upolu, Fanuatapu, Manua, Nuutele and Nuulua, belonging to Germany, and Tutuila, Anua, Ofu, Olosenga, Tau and Rose, belonging to the United States of America. The principal of these are Savaii (area, 660 sq. m., pop. 13,200), Upolu (340 sq. m., pop. 18,400), Tutuila (54 sq. m., pop. 3 800), and the Manua group, which includes Tau with Ofu and Olosenga (25 sq. m., pop. 2000). Some of the smaller islands are also thickly populated, so that the total population ' is about 39,000, whites numbering about 500. With the exception of Rose Island, which is an uninhabited coral islet 70 m. E. of its nearest neighbour, and therefore scarcely belongs geographically to the group, all the islands are considerably elevated, with several extinct or quiescent craters rising from 2000 ft. in Upolu to 4000 (Mua) in Savaii. Although there are no active cones, Upolu has in comparatively recent times been subject to volcanic disturbances, and according to a local tradition, outbreaks must have occurred in the 17th or 18th century. In 1866 a submarine volcano near the islet of Olosenga was the scene of a violent commotion, discharging rocks and mud to a height of 2000 ft. Earthquakes are not uncommon and sometimes severe. Coral reefs protect the coasts in many parts; they are frequently interrupted, but the passages through them are often difficult of navigation. The whole group is abundantly watered, and the igneous soil is marvellously fertile. The scenery of the islands is extremely beautiful. Upolu is long and narrow; it has a backbone of mountains whose flanks are scored with lovely valleys, at the foot of which are flat cultivable tracts. Of its harbours Apia and Saluafata, both on the N. coast, are most important. Mount Vaea, which overlooks Apia and Vailima, the home of Robert Louis Stevenson, is his burial-place and bears a monument to his memory. Tutuila, the principal island belonging to the United States, resembles Upolu, and has on its S. side the harbour of Pago Pago or Pango Pango, the finest in the group.

Climate, Flora, Fauna

The climate is moist and sometimes oppressively hot, though pleasant on the whole. A fine season extends from April to September; a wet season from October to March. The temperature is equable - at Apia the mean annual temperature is 78° F., the warmest month being December (80°) and the coldest July (75°-76°). The prevalent winds, which temper the heat, are the S.E. trades, but W. winds supervene from January to March. The archipelago lies in the track of the fierce hurricanes which occur usually in this period. On the 16th of March 1889 the heavy tidal waves created havoc in the harbour of Apia. The American warship "Nipsic" was cast upon the beach, but was afterwards floated and saved. Two other United States warships, "Trenton" and "Vandalia," were beaten to pieces on the coral reef; and the German warships "Olga" and "Eber" were wrecked with great loss of life. The British warship "Calliope" (Captain Pearson) was in the harbour, but succeeded in getting up steam and, standing out to sea, escaped destruction. In A Footnote to History R. L. Stevenson vividly describes the heroism of the captain and crew.

The Samoan forests are remarkable for the size and variety of their trees, and the luxuriance and beauty of tree-ferns, creepers and parasites. The coco-nut palm and bread-fruit are of peculiar value to the inhabitants; there are sixteen varieties of the one, and twenty of the other. Hand timber trees, of use in boat-building, &c., are especially characteristic of Savaii.

Of the extremely limited Samoan fauna, consisting mainly of an indigenous rat, four species of snakes and a few birds, the most interesting member is the Didunculus strigirostris, a ground pigeon of iridescent greenish-black and bright chestnut plumage, which forms a link between the extinct dodo and the living African Treroninae. Natives. - The Samoans are pure Polynesians, and according to the traditions of many Polynesian peoples Savaii was the centre of dispersion of the race over the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to New Zealand. Apart from tradition, Samoan is the most archaic of all the Polynesian tongues, and still preserves the organic letter s, which becomes h or disappears in nearly all the other archipelagos. Thus the term Savaii itself, originally Savaiki, is supposed to have been carried by the Samoan wanderers over the ocean to Tahiti, New Zealand, the Marquesas and Sandwich groups, where it still survives in such variant forms as Havaii, Hawaiki, Havaiki and Hawaii. In any case, the Samoans are the most perfect type of Polynesians, of a light brown colour, splendid physique, and handsome regular features, with an average height of 5 ft. 10 in. Their mental and social standard is high among Pacific peoples; they are simple, honourable, generous and hospitable, but brave fighters. Their idolatry (polytheistic) was unaccompanied by human sacrifice. The dead were buried, and their spirits believed to travel to a world entered by a pool at the western extremity of Savaii. They have become^mainly Protestants, Catholics or Mormons, but retain many superstitions connected with their native religion. The women and children are well treated. A youth is not regarded as eligible to marry till tattooed from the hips to the knees. The principal foods of the Samoans are vegetables, coco-nut, bread-fruit, fish and pork. They are famous as sailors and boat-builders. The Samoan language is soft and liquid in pronunciation, and has been called "the Italian of the Pacific." It is difficult to learn thoroughly, owing to its many inflexions and accents, and its being largely a language of idioms. (See also Polynesia.) Administration and Trade. - The German islands form a crown colony. There is an imperial governor, having under him a native high chief assisted by a native council; and there are both German and native judges and magistrates. The United States, on assuming sovereignty over Tutuila and the islands E. of it in 1900, with the written consent of the native chiefs, appointed a naval governor. Cultivation has been extended under European and American rule, and in 1904 the exports from the German islands had reached a value of 83,750, and those from the American islands of is'4200. Copra and cocoa beans are - the chief articles of export.


It is generally considered that the Manua group was sighted by the Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen in 1722, and named by him the Baaumann islands after the captain of one of his ships. Louis de Bougainville obtained a fuller acquaintance with the archipelago in 1768, and called them the Navigators' Islands (Iles des Navigateurs) . This name is still used. La Perouse was among the islands in 1787, and on Tutuila lost some of his crew in a conflict with some natives of Upolu visiting the island. Subsequent explorers were Captain Edwards of the "Pandora" in 1791, and Otto von Kotzebue in 1824. In 18 3 o the respected missionary John Williams paid his first visit to Samoa. Surveys of the archipelago were made by the American. explorer Charles Wilkes. The islands, especially Upolu, now began to attract American and European (mostly German) capitalists, and the Hamburg firm of J. C. Godeffroy & Son developed the trade of the island. Meanwhile a series of petty civil wars greatly interfered with the prosperity of the native population, who grouped themselves into two opposing political parties. Americans and Europeans began to discuss the question of annexation, recognizing the importance of the geographical position of the islands. In 1877 the American consul hoisted his country's flag, but the action was repudiated by his government, which, however, in 1878 obtained Pago Pago as a coaling station and made a trading treaty with the natives. In 1879 Germany obtained the harbour of Saluafata. Great Britain followed suit, but under a political arrangement between the powers no single power was to appropriate the islands. But in 1887 and 1888 civil war prevailed on the question of the succession to the native kingship, the Germans supporting Tamasese, and the British and American residents supporting Malietoa. After the latter had been deported by the Germans, the British and American support was transferred to his successor, Mataafa. In the course of the fighting which ensued some fifty German sailors and marines were killed or wounded by the adherents of Mataafa. A conference between the three powers was thereupon held at Berlin, and a treaty was executed by those powers and by Samoa, on the 14th of June 1889, by virtue of which the independence and autonomy of the islands were guaranteed, Malietoa was restored as king, and the three powers constituted themselves practically a protectorate over Samoa, and provided a chief justice and a president of the municipality of Apia, to be appointed by them, to aid in carrying out the provisions of the treaty. The government was administered under this treaty, but with considerable friction, until the end of 1898, when, upon the death of Malietoa, two rival candidates for the throne again appeared, and the chief justice selected by the three powers decided against the claims of Mataafa, and in favour of a boy, Malietoa Tanu, a relative of the deceased Malietoa. Civil war immediately ensued, in which several American and British officers and sailors were killed by the natives, the Germans upholding the claims of Mataafa, and the British and Americans supporting the rival candidate. The three powers thereupon sent a commission to Samoa to investigate and adjust the difficulties. The situation, however, was found to be so complicated and embarrassing that, early in 1900, the so-called Berlin treaty was abrogated, Great Britain withdrew her claims to any portion of the islands and received compensation from Germany by concessions in other parts of the world, and the United States withdrew from all the islands W. of Tutuila. In 1902 the king of Sweden, as arbitrator under a convention signed at Washington in 1899, decided that Great Britain and the United States were liable for injuries due to action taken by their representatives during the military operations of 1899.

See Robert Louis Stevenson, A Footnote to History (London, 1892), and Vailima Letters (London, 1895); G. Turner, Samoa a Hundred Years Ago and Long Before (London, 1884); W. B. Churchward, My Consulate in Samoa (London, 1887); J. B. Stair, Old Samoa (London, 1897); Mary S. Boyd, Our Stolen Summer (London, 1900); L. P. Churchill, Samoa '0 - ma (London, 1902); Journal des museums Godeffroy (Hamburg, 1871-1874); G. Kurze, Samoa, das Land, die Leute and die Mission (Berlin, 1899); 0. Ehlers, Samoa, die Perle der Siidsee (Berlin, 1900); F. Reinecke, Samoa (Berlin, 1901); A. Kramer, Die Samoa Inseln (Stuttgart, 1902 seq.); parliamentary papers, Correspondence respecting the Affairs of Samoa (London, 1899, &c.), and 1902 (Samoa, Cd. 1083) for the arbitration of the king of Sweden.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also samoa




This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology.


Proper noun




  1. A country in Oceania.


  • Independent State of Samoa (officially)

Derived terms


See also



Proper noun

Samoa m. 

  1. Samoa

Derived terms

  • illes Samoa (“Samoan Islands”)
  • samoà (“Samoan”)
  • Samoa Alemanya (“German Samoa”)
  • Samoa Nord-americana (“American Samoa”)
  • Samoa Occidental (“Western Samoa”)


Proper noun


  1. Samoa


Proper noun


  1. Samoa



German Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia de


Proper noun

Samoa n.

  1. Samoa

Derived terms


Proper noun

Samoa f.

  1. Samoa

Derived terms


Proper noun


  1. Samoa

Related terms



  • IPA: /saˈmɔa/

Proper noun

Samoa n.

  1. Samoa

Derived terms

  • Samoańczyk m., Samoanka f.
  • adjective: samoański

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