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Samoan Islands
Samoa - Apia Govt buildings.jpg
Government buildings in Apia
Samoa islands 2002.gif
Location Polynesia
Area 3,030 km²
Highest point Mauga Silisili (1,858 m)
Largest city Apia (pop. 38,800)
United States
Largest city Pago Pago (pop. 11,500)
Population 250,100 (as of 2001)

The Samoan Islands or Samoa Islands is an archipelago covering 3,030 km2 (1,170 sq mi) in the central South Pacific, forming part of Polynesia and the wider region of Oceania. The population of the Samoa Islands is approximately 250,000, sharing a common language, Samoan, and culture, known as fa'a Samoa. Due to colonialism, the Samoa Islands and people were divided by Western powers. It was also referred to by early European explorers as the Navigators' Islands.

Today, politically there are two jurisdictions on the islands:

  • The Independent State of Samoa, situated at the western half of the islands, gained political independence in 1962 (2,831 km² and 185,000 inhabitants)
  • American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the United States consisting of the islands to the east (199 square kilometers and 65,000 inhabitants)

The archipelago includes 13 islands and lies between 13° and 14° south latitude and 169° and 173° west longitude, about 480 km (298 mi) from west to east; it is approximately 800 km (497 mi) from Fiji, 530 km (329 mi) from Tonga, 2,900 km (1,802 mi) from New Zealand, and 4,000 km (2,485 mi) from Hawaii, U.S.A.[1] The larger islands are volcanic in origin, mountainous, and covered in tropical moist forest. Some of the smaller islands are coral atolls. Not all of the islands are inhabited. The highest peak is Mt. Silisili, on the island of Savai'i, one of the highest peaks in Polynesia at 1858 m.[2] The highest point in American Samoa is on Ta’u, Lata Mountain, at 966 m (3,169 ft). The two large islands of Upolu and Savai'i in Samoa, are among the largest of Polynesian islands, at 1,718 km2 (663.3 sq mi) and 1,125 km2 (434.4 sq mi) , respectively[3], exceeded in size only by the two main islands of Fiji and the Hawaiian islands of Hawaiʻi and Maui. The island of Upolu is more populated than Savai'i.

The next largest island is Tutuila, where the city and harbor Pago Pago (population 3,519 in 1990) is located. Tutuila is much smaller than Upolu and Savai‘i at 136.2 km2 (52.6 sq mi) in area, but it is the largest island in American Samoa. The highest peak on Tutuila is Matafao Peak.

Smaller islands in the archipelago include the three islets (Manono Island, Apolima and Nu'ulopa) in the Apolima Strait between Savai'i and Upolu; the four Aleipata Islands off the eastern end of Upolu (Nu'utele, Nu'ulua, Namua, and Fanuatapu); and Nu‘usafe‘e.[4] To the east of Tutuila, the Manu'a group comprises Ofu, Olosega, Ta’u, and Aunu'u. An uninhabited coral atoll, Rose Atoll, is the southernmost point in the territory of the United States. Another coral atoll, Swains Island, is within the territory of American Samoa but is geographically distant from the Samoan archipelago.[5]

The climate is tropical, with a rainy season from November to April. The island group is frequently hit by typhoons between December and March, due to its positioning in the South Pacific Ocean.[6]

The 2009 Samoa earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 caused a tsunami that killed many people on the islands.

See also


  1. ^ Robert, Kiste (1993-2002), "Samoa", Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003, Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 60210-442-1635445-74407  
  2. ^ Pratt, et al, H. Douglas (1987). The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press. pp. 16–18. ISBN 0-691-02399-9.  
  3. ^ Craig, P.. "Natural History Guide to American Samoa". National Park of American Samoa, Department Marine and Wildlife Resources, American Samoa Community College. Retrieved 16 August 2009.  
  4. ^ "Samoa an Overview". Retrieved 2007-11-26.  
  5. ^ "American Samoa, World Atlas", Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003, Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 1993-2002, 60210-442-1635445-74407  
  6. ^ "Samoa: Climate". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-11-26.  

Coordinates: 14°16′S 171°12′W / 14.267°S 171.2°W / -14.267; -171.2



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