American Samoa

American Samoa

Infobox Country
native_name = "Amerika Sāmoa / Sāmoa Amelika"
conventional_long_name = American Samoa
common_name = American Samoa



national_motto = "Samoa, Muamua Le Atua"spaces|2(Samoan) "Samoa, Let God Be First"
national_anthem = The Star-Spangled Banner, Amerika Samoa
official_languages = English, Samoan
capital = Pago Pagosmallsup|1
largest_city =
government_type =
leader_title1 = Head of State
leader_name1 = George W. Bush (R)
leader_title2 = Governor
leader_name2 = Togiola Tulafono (D)
leader_title3 = Lieutenant Governor
leader_name3 = Ipulasi Aitofele Sunia (D)
area_rank = 212th
area_magnitude = 1 E8
area_km2 = 199
area_sq_mi = 76.83
percent_water = 0
demonym = American Samoan
population_estimate = 68,200 [cite web |url= |title=American Samoa Department of Commerce]
population_estimate_rank = 196
population_estimate_year = 2007
population_census = 57,291
population_census_year = 2000
population_density_km2 = 326
population_density_sq_mi = 914
population_density_rank = 35th
GDP_PPP_rank =
GDP_PPP_year =
GDP_PPP_per_capita =
GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank =
sovereignty_type = Unincorporated territory of the United States
established_event1 = Treaty of Berlin
established_date1 = 1899
established_event2 = Deed of Cession of Tutuila
established_date2 = 1900
established_event3 = Deed of Cession of Manuʻa
established_date3 = 1904
HDI_rank =
HDI_year =
HDI_category =
currency = US dollar
currency_code = USD
country_code =
time_zone =
utc_offset = -11
time_zone_DST = "not observed"
utc_offset_DST =
cctld = .as
calling_code = 1 684
footnote1 = Fagatogo is identified as the seat of government.

American Samoa Audio-IPA|en-us-American Samoa.ogg| [əˈmɛrɪkən samoa] ( _sm. Amerika Sāmoa or _sm. "Sāmoa Amelika") is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa. The main (largest and most populous) island is Tutuila, with the Manuokinaa Islands, Rose Atoll, and Swains Island also included in the territory. American Samoa is part of the Samoan Islands chain, located west of the Cook Islands, north of Tonga, and some 300 miles (500 km) south of Tokelau. To the west are the islands of the Wallis and Futuna group. The 2000 census showed a total population of 57,291. [ [ Census Bureau News ] ] The total land area is 200.22 km² (77.305 sq mi).


Pre-Western contact

It is generally believed that the Samoan Islands were originally inhabited as early as 1000 BC. [cite web |title=American Samoa |work=Encyclopædia Britannica |url= |accessmonthday=February 5 |accessyear=2008 ] Samoa was not reached by European explorers until the eighteenth century.The pre-Western history of Eastern Samoa (now American Samoa) is inextricably bound with the history of Western Samoa (now independent Samoa). The Manu'a Islands of American Samoa has one of the oldest histories of Polynesia, in connection with the Tui Manua title, connected with the histories of the archipelagos of Fiji, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Tokelau and elsewhere in the Pacific, all of which had once been under Manua's occupation. Tu'i Manu'a from Manu'a ruled most of the Pacific, including Tonga, long before the Tu'i Tonga Empire. While Tu'i Manu'a ruled Tonga, the external influences came in the form of imperial activities, beginning with the Tu’i Pulotu empire in Fiji and followed by the Tu’i Manu’a empire in Samoa. In other words, Tonga was under considerable influence from the imperialism of both Fiji and Samoa. However, Tonga was able to free itself through bitter and bloody wars from the imperial domination of the Tu’i Manu’a -- which eventually led to the formation of the Tu’i Tonga empire around AD 950 in the person of ‘Aho’eitu, the first Tu’i Tonga -- whose father was a deified Samoan high chief, Tangaloa ‘Eitumâtupu’a, and mother a Tongan woman, Va’epopua, of great noble birth. This double origin entitled the Tu’i Tonga to hold both divine and secular offices. In principle, the close cultural and historical interlinkages between Fiji, Samoa and Tonga were essentially elitist, involving the intermarriage between regional aristocratic families. Many years later after Tonga freed herself from Samoa the Tongans took rule over Samoa until Samoa freed herself. Manu'a was the only island group that remained independent. The islands of Tutuila and Aunu'u were politically connected to 'Upolu island in what is now independent Samoa. It can be said that all the Samoa islands are politically connected today through the faamatai chiefly system and through family connections that are as strong as ever. This system of the faamatai and the customs of faasamoa originated with two of the most famous early chiefs of Samoa, who were both women and related, Nafanua and Salamasina.


Early Western contact included a battle in the eighteenth century between French explorers and islanders in Tutuila, for which the Samoans were blamed in the West, giving them a reputation for ferocity. Early nineteenth century Rarotongan missionaries to the Samoa islands were followed by a group of Western missionaries led by John Williams of the Congregationalist London Missionary Society in the 1830s, officially bringing Christianity to Samoa. In the second half of the 20th century, the Samoan Congregationalist Church became the first independent indigenous church of the South Pacific.In March 1889, a German naval force invaded a village in Samoa, and by doing so destroyed some American property. Three American warships then entered the Samoan harbor and were prepared to fire on the three German warships found there. Before guns were fired, a typhoon sank both the American and German ships. A compulsory armistice was called because of the lack of warships.

As a U.S. Territory

International rivalries in the latter half of the nineteenth century were settled by the 1899 Treaty of Berlin in which Germany and the U.S. divided the Samoan archipelago. The following year, the U.S. formally occupied its portion: a smaller group of eastern islands, one of which surrounds the noted harbor of Pago Pago. Since 1962, the western islands have been an independent nation, adopting the name "The Independent State of Samoa" in 1997.

After the U.S. took possession of Samoa, the U.S. Navy built a coaling station on Pago Pago Bay for its Pacific Squadron and appointed a local Secretary. The navy secured a Deed of Cession of Tutuila in 1900 and a Deed of Cession of Unicode|Manuʻa in 1904. The last sovereign of Unicode|Manuʻa, the Unicode|Tui Manuʻa Elisala, was forced to sign a Deed of Cession of Unicode|Manuʻa following a series of U.S. Naval trials, known as the "Trial of the Ipu", in Pago Pago, Unicode|Taʻu, and aboard a Pacific Squadron gunboat. [ Sovereignty Matters article ] ]

After World War I, during the time of the Mau movement in Western Samoa (then a New Zealand protectorate), there was a corresponding American Samoa Mau movement, led by Samuel Sailele Ripley, who was from Leone village and was a WWI war veteran. After meetings in America, he was prevented from disembarking from the ship that brought him home to American Samoa and was not allowed to return. The American Samoa Mau movement having been suppressed by the U.S. Navy, in 1930 the U.S. Congress sent a committee to investigate the status of American Samoa, led by Americans who had had a part in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

In 1938, famous aviator Ed Musick and his crew died on the Pan American World Airways S-42 Samoan Clipper over Pago Pago, on a survey flight to Auckland, New Zealand. Sometime after take-off the aircraft experienced trouble and Musick turned it back toward Pago Pago. As the crew began dumping fuel in preparation for an emergency landing a spark in the fuel pump caused an explosion that tore the aircraft apart in mid-air.

During World War II, U.S. Marines in Samoa outnumbered the local population, having a huge cultural influence. Young Samoan men from the age of 14 and above were combat trained by US military personnel. Samoans served in various capacities during WWII, including as combatants, medical personnel, code personnel, ship repair, and others.

After the war, Organic Act 4500, a U.S. Department of Interior-sponsored attempt to incorporate Samoa, was defeated in Congress, primarily through the efforts of Samoan chiefs, led by Tuiasosopo Mariota. These chiefs' efforts led to the creation of a local legislature, the American Samoa Fono which meets in the village of Fagatogo, often considered the territory's "de facto" and "de jure" capital (the United States regards Pago Pago as the official capital of the territory).

In time, the Navy-appointed governor was replaced by a locally elected one. Although technically considered "unorganized" in that the U.S. Congress has not passed an Organic Act for the territory, American Samoa is self-governing under a constitution that became effective on July 1, 1967. The U.S. Territory of American Samoa is on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, a listing which is disputed by territorial government officials.

As of May, 2008 seven members of the American Armed Forces from American Samoa have died in the Iraq War. [Citation
title=Iraq Coalition Casualty Count


Politics of American Samoa takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic dependency, whereby the Governor is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. American Samoa is an unincorporated and unorganized territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior. Its constitution was ratified in 1966 and came into effect in 1967. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the legislature. The American political parties (Republican and Democratic) exist in American Samoa, but few politicians are aligned with the parties. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

There is also the traditional village politics of the Samoa Islands, the "fa'amatai" and the "fa'asamoa", which continues in American Samoa and in independent Samoa, and which interacts across these current boundaries. The Fa'asamoa is the language and customs, and the Fa'amatai the protocols of the "fono" (council) and the chiefly system. The Fa'amatai and the Fono take place at all levels of the Samoan body politic, from the family, to the village, to the region, to national matters. The "matai" (chiefs) are elected by consensus within the fono of the extended family and village(s) concerned. The matai and the fono (which is itself made of matai) decide on distribution of family exchanges and tenancy of communal lands. The majority of lands in American Samoa and independent Samoa are communal. A matai can represent a small family group or a great extended family that reaches across islands, and to both American Samoa and independent Samoa.


People born in American Samoa, including those born on Swains Island, are American nationals, but not United States citizens. U.S. citizenship is not conferred on people born in "unorganized" territories. [Note: Swains Island was officially made part of American Samoa by annexation on March 4, 1925, and is claimed by supporters of independence for Tokelau as part of that country.]

Samoans are entitled to elect one non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives. Their delegate since 1989 has been Democrat Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin Faleomavaega, Jr. They also send delegates to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Administrative divisions

American Samoa is administratively divided into three districts and two "unorganized" atolls. The districts and unorganized atolls are subdivided into 74 villages. Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa. [cite web |url= |title=American Samoa |accessdate=2007-02-23 |work=The World Factbook |publisher =CIA ] It is one of the largest villages and is located on the eastern side of Tutuila island in Ma'oputasi County district #9. Some have mistakenly cited Fagatogo as the capital due to the fact that is listed in the Constitution of American Samoa as the official seat of government. [ [ Revised Constitution of American Samoa] .] [Citation
title=Districts of American Samoa
] [Citation
title=Explanation of Listings: Country overview
(See the discussion, "What is the capital of X?")


American Samoa is located within the geographical region of Oceania and it is the only possession of the United States in the Southern Hemisphere. With a total land area of 76.8 square miles (199 km²), it is slightly larger than Washington, D.C. Consisting of five, rugged volcanic islands and two coral atolls, it is frequently hit by typhoons between December and March, due to its positioning in the South Pacific Ocean. In addition, Rose Atoll, located in American Samoa, is the southernmost point in the territory of the United States.

Official protest to neighboring Samoa

In 1997 a protest was issued against Samoa, formerly named Western Samoa, for changing its official name to the shorter form. The official view in American Samoa is that such a form detracts from the Samoan identity of American Samoa, and public officials and documents from American Samoa still refer to Samoa as Western Samoa.

Territorial claim by Tokelau nationalists

Swains Island is claimed by supporters of independence for Tokelau as part of that country. Swains Islanders and Tokelauans enjoy linguistic and cultural affinities. Tokelauans refer to Swains as Olohega. In 2006 and 2007, unsuccessful, United Nations-sponsored referenda on independence for Tokelau, currently administered by New Zealand, revived a dormant source of tension. The American and New Zealand governments are not concerned to pursue any change of territorial status over the Swains Island issue. However, the existence of a clause in a draft independence treaty espoused by United Nations-driven Tokelauan nationalists is a matter which will be a potential source of diplomatic tension. In one direction or another, the way out of this impasse may depend on the extent that the United States government shows a willingness or otherwise to support the United Nations' decolonization efforts at the expense of the current territorial integrity of American Samoa.


Employment on the island falls into three relatively equally-sized categories of approximately 5,000 workers each: the public sector, the two tuna canneries, and the rest of the private sector. There are only a few federal employees in American Samoa and no active military personnel except members of the U.S. Coast Guard. (there is an Army Reserve unit, however); the overwhelming majority of public sector employees work for the American Samoa Government. The two tuna canneries (StarKist and Samoa Packing) export several hundred million dollars worth of canned tuna to the United States. In early 2007 the Samoan economy was highlighted in the U.S. Congress as it was not mentioned in the minimum wage bill, at the request of the Samoan delegate to the United States House of Representatives, Eni Faleomavaega.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 has, since inception, contained special provisions for American Samoa, citing its limited economy. [ FLSA section 205, "Special industry committees for American Samoa"] ] Since the American set based on the recommendations of a Special Industry Committee meeting bi-annually. [ [ Statement by the President Upon Signing the American Samoa Labor Standards Amendments of 1956] ] Originally, the Act contained provisions for other territories, which were phased out as those territories developed more diverse economies. [ Faleomavaega Comments On Minimum Wage Bill Now Before Congress] ] In 2007, the
Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 was passed, increasing minimum wage in American Samoa by $0.50 per hour in 2007 and another $0.50 per hour each year thereafter until the minimum wage in American Samoa equals that of the fifty states. [ [ Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. 29 USC 201] . "United States Government Printing Office". 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2008-04-12.]


Approximately 89% of the population are native Samoans, with just 2% of the population Caucasian. Most of the population is bilingual, having the ability to speak both English and Samoan. American Samoa is heavily Christian, with 50% of the population belonging to congregationalist churches and another 20% being Roman Catholic.

American Samoa is small enough to have just one ZIP code, 96799. The island contains 23 primary schools and six secondary schools, all of which are operated by the American Samoa Department of Education. [ [ Welcome to ASDOE Website ] ] American Samoa Community College, founded in 1970, provides post-secondary education on the islands.


The culture in American Samoa is almost the same as in Western Samoa (Upolu). The U.S. sovereignty distinguishes the civilization of American Samoa from the sovereign Samoa. [ [ National Park of American Samoa - climate ] ]


About 30 ethnic Samoans, many from American Samoa, currently play in the National Football League. A 2002 article from ESPN [ [ GEN - The Dominican Republic of the NFL ] ] estimated that a Samoan male (either an American Samoan, or a Samoan living in the 50 United States) is 40 times more likely to play in the NFL than a non-Samoan American. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, though born and raised in the mainland U.S., is perhaps the most famous Samoan in the NFL, having not gotten his haircut since 2000 (and only because a former USC coach told him he had to) and wearing it down during games in honor of his heritage.

A number have also ventured into professional wrestling (see especially Anoa'i family). World Wrestling Entertainment has employed many members from the Anoa'i family, most famously The Rock. The company currently employs Anoa'i member Eddie Fatu, better known to wrestling fans as Umaga, who has a traditional Samoan gimmick and is also known at times as the Samoan Bulldozer.

American Samoa's national soccer team is considered one of the newest teams in the world. It also has the distinction of suffering the worst loss in international soccer history: they lost to Australia 31 - 0 in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match on April 11, 2001.

ee also

*List of American Samoa-related topics



* Ellison, Joseph (1938). "Opening and Penetration of Foreign Influence in Samoa to 1880". Corvallis: Oregon State College.
* Meti, Lauofo (2002). "Samoa: The Making of the Constitution". Apia: Government of Samoa.

External links

* [ Government of American Samoa]

Country Data


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  • American Samoa — noun /əˈmɛɹ.ɪ.kən səˈməʊ.ə,əˈmɛɹ.ɪ.kən səˈmoʊ.ə/ A US overseas territory in Oceania. Official name: Territory of American Samoa …   Wiktionary

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