Samoa is made up of nine volcanic islands, the largest two -- Savai'i and Upolu - make up more than 99% of the land. At the beginning of World War I, New Zealand occupied the German protectorate of Western Samoa. After the war, New Zealand continued to govern the islands as a mandate and then as a trust territory. In 1962, after a vote, the islands became the first Polynesian nation to become independent in the 20th century.
Samoa is a conservative, Christian society, with emphasis on family and the church, which becomes the center of most social activities. There are villages in Samoa that enforce a 20 minutes prayer curfew in the evenings.
Attempts are being made to diversify the economy which is mostly dependent on fishing and agriculture. Samoa’s beaches and volcanoes offer a lot of scenic beauty for tourists. Offshore banking and some foreign investments are slowly changing the economic outlook.
One big concern is the migration of younger Samoans to New Zealand, American Samoa and the US, although the families benefit from the money sent home by those living and working abroad.
Sources: BBC, International Crisis Group, CIA World Factbook.
The Independent State of Samoa
Form of Government:
Year of Independence:
1962 (from New Zealand-administered UN trusteeship)
Congregationalist 34.8%, Roman Catholic 19.6%, Methodist 15%, Latter-Day Saints 12.7%, Assembly of God 6.6%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.5%, Worship Centre 1.3%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.9%, unspecified 0.1% (2001 Census)
2,831 sq km (1,093 sq miles)
Samoan (Polynesian), English
69 years (men), 75 years (women) (UN, 2007)
1 tala = 100 sene
Coconut oil and cream, copra, fish, beer, taro, garments
GDP - Per Capita (PPP):
$5,400 (2007 est.)
International Dialing Code: