American Samoa Facts

American Samoa Facts and History


American Samoa is located – not to be confused with Samoa – in the middle of the South Pacific, east of the date line and is approx. 2,900 km from Auckland (New Zealand), 8,500 km from Sydney (Australia) and 8,400 km from Los Angeles (USA).

The archipelago belongs to the Polynesian culture and is located in the center of Polynesia. To Polynesia also are Cook Islands, the Easter Islands, French Polynesia, Niue, the Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvaluas well as Wallis and Futuna counted.

American Samoa comprises five volcanic islands and two coral atolls. The two main islands are called Tutuila and Ta’u. An atoll is the Swains Island, which is about 340 km northwest of Tutuila and culturally belongs to Tokelau, a northern archipelago that is dependent on New Zealand. In 1980, however, the United States forced Tokelau to cede the island to them, as a kind of price for the fact that the United States no longer made territorial claims to Tokelau and accepted certain fishing rights. Tutuila is about 32 km long and 1-5 km wide. About 95% of the total population live on the island. Ta’u Island is approximately 10 km long and 5 km wide.

American Samoa is one of the most densely populated islands in the Pacific after Tuvalu. An average of 285 people live there on one square kilometer.

American Samoa is east of longitude 171 ° west, to the west is Samoa, the former Western Samoa, which was granted independence by New Zealand in 1962 as the first Pacific island.

In response, the Americans pumped huge amounts of money into American Samoa, mainly to build roads, set up schools, and develop the tuna industry. Samoa and American Samoa share the same language and cultural history.

American Samoa has the status of an “Unincorporated Territory of the US”.

Name of the country American Samoa
Form of government Outer territory of the USA
Location In the middle of the South Pacific, on a geographical longitude between 169 ° and 171 ° Westand a latitude between 14 ° 1´ and 14 ° 3´ Sou
National anthem Lo’u Atunu’u pele ‘oe
Population 58,000 (Credit: Countryaah: American Samoa Facts)
Ethnicities Around 89% Samoans, Polynesians, 2% Europeans, 4% Tongans and 5% others
Religions Approx. 60% Congregationalists, 20% Catholics and 30% Protestants and others
Languages Samoan and English
Capital Pago Pago, with 11,000 residents
Surface 199 km²
Highest elevation Lafa, with a height of 966 m
Longest river The Lautifi stream
Largest lake in area Lake Namo on Swains Isla
International license plate ASM
Currency U.S. dollar
Time difference to CET -13
International phone code + 684
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .as

American Samoa: History

Early history

The first documented settlement in Samoa is Mulifanua on the island of Upolu, whose formation dates back to around 1,000 BC. Is dated. It is believed that the first settlers came from Malaysia, the Philippines or East India. These occurred around 1,500 BC. At the same time on Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, the original home of the Polynesians, Hawaiiki, is believed to be Samoa. There was a lively exchange between Samoa, Tonga and Fiji in the form of trade or marriage. Since women could have a very high cultural status, which was sometimes higher than that of their brothers, they were simply married to the neighboring islands in order to avoid conflicts.

Approx. In 300 AD the Marquesas Islands were settled from Samoa. From these, in turn, the settlement of the outer Polynesian islands such as Hawaii, New Zealand and the Easter Islands, which form the Polynesian triangle that circumscribes the Polynesian cultural area, took place.

Around 950 AD warriors from Tonga invaded Savaii first and then Upolu, where they dominated until around 1250. After the agreement of a peace treaty, however, these withdrew again.

In the 15th century, Queen Salamasina ruled for 60 peaceful years. It united the four skinned tribes.

The Europeans are coming

The first European who verifiably saw Samoa was the Dutch navigator Roggeveen (1659-1729) in 1722. Before this, whalers, pirates and escaped prisoners from the penal colonies were there.

Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811) – named after the beautiful flowers – reached the islands in 1768.

In 1830 the British missionary John Williams (1796-1839) of the London Missionary Society came to Samoa.

Around 1870 the Americans established a stopover on Pago Pago for the ferry connection from America to Australia. In 1872 agreements were made with the chiefs of the islands in this regard.

In 1899, a treaty between Great Britain, the USA and Germany was signed in Berlin, which provided for a joint government over the islands. The British withdrew, however, and Samoa was partitioned between the US and Germany. West Samoa fell to the Germans, the eastern islands beyond the 171 ° latitude to the USA.

1900 until today

The Americans annexed Tutuila and Anunu’u a year later, in 1900, and the Manu’a archipelago was annexed in 1904. The islands remained under the regiment of the American Navy until 1951.

In the early 1960s, American Samoa built infrastructure such as schools, roads and hospitals, as well as tuna canning plants, with immense American funds. As a result, American Samoa had an extremely high standard of living compared to its neighboring countries. As early as 1964, the islands got television, which still does not exist on some islands in the Pacific.

Nowadays 95% of the land is under the administration of the tribal chiefs. The traditional understanding of ownership of the Samoans does not provide for any personal property of an individual on land. Only the rights of use over the land are transferred to an individual, ownership remains with the tribe.

One third of the working population works for the government, one third in the tuna factory, and the last third in the service and retail sectors.

American Samoa Facts