General Information about Samoa

The official name is the Independent State of Samoa.

Located in the center of the Southwest Pacific Ocean. The area is 2944 km2, the population is approx. 180 thousand people (2003). The official language is Samoan. The capital is the city of Apia (35 thousand people, 2003). National holiday – Independence Day on June 1. The monetary unit is the tala (Samoan dollar).

Member of the UN (since 1976), IMF (since 1994), Pacific Islands Forum (formerly UTF, 1971).

Located on 9 islands in the western part of the Samoa archipelago (two main islands: Savaii, 1708 km2, and Upolu, 1118 km2). Geographical coordinates: 13°35 south latitude and 172°20 west longitude.

All islands are volcanic. The highest point is Silisili (1858 m, Savaii). The length of the coastline is 403 km, surrounded by coral reefs. The center of the islands is mountainous and uneven, the coastal lowlands are narrow. Rivers and lakes have significant reserves of fresh water. Forests, including tropical ones, occupy more than 45% of the territory (mainly on Savai). There are several species of bats and lizards, approx. 50 kinds of birds.

Natural resources: fish stocks in the 200-mile economic zone (120 thousand km2), hardwood, hydropower resources.

The climate is tropical. Rainy season: October-April, dry season: May-September. The average annual temperature is +27°C. The average annual rainfall is from 2500 to 7000 mm depending on the region. There are destructive cyclones and hurricanes.

According to Countryaah, population growth is constrained by emigration (about 90 thousand Samoans live in New Zealand). Almost 93% of the population are Samoans (Polynesians). The rest are Europolynesian mestizos, as well as Europeans, Chinese, etc. More than 70% of the population lives on Upolu. The indigenous population retains the traditional structure of society (family groups headed by an elected leader, matai). This contributes to political and social stability. Samoan and English are widely spoken. Competently almost 100% of the adult population. Average life expectancy: men – 67 years, women – 73 years. Infant mortality 30 people per 1000 newborns (2003).

Christianity is an integral part of Samoan culture, Christians – 99.7%. Protestants – ca. 50% (most adherents of the Congregational Church of Samoa), Mormon influence is growing (26%), there are Catholics.

Samoans call their country the cradle of Polynesia (Savaii is considered the birthplace of Polynesia). In 1889, the archipelago was divided (a protectorate was established) into western, German, eastern, and American parts. In 1914, Western Samoa was occupied by New Zealand, which from 1920 ruled it under a League of Nations mandate, and from 1946 under a UN mandate. In 1962, Western Samoa was the first of the South Pacific colonies to gain independence. Since July 1997 it has been called the Independent State of Samoa.

Samoa is the only constitutional monarchy in Oceania. According to the Constitution in force since 1962 (with later amendments), the head of state for life is the leader of MALIETOA Tanumafili II. After his death, the head of state (with the rights of a constitutional monarch) will be elected for 5 years by the Legislative Assembly (Fono). Its 49 deputies are elected only from among the matai (there are about 19 thousand of them) for 5 years by direct universal suffrage (the next elections are in 2006): 47 deputies are elected by ethnic Samoans, 2 deputies are elected by the population of non-Samoan origin. With the approval of Fono, the leader of the winning party is appointed by the head of state as prime minister (Sailele Malielegaopi TUILA’EPA, since 1998). On his advice, the head of state also appoints 12 cabinet members.

Administratively divided into 11 districts. In fact, the only city is the capital Apia (Upolu).

Main political parties: Human Rights Party (ruling, 30 seats in Fono), Samoa National Development Party (opposition, 13), Samoa Christian Democratic Party, Samoa National Party, Samoan Progressive Conservative Party, All Samoan People’s Party, Samoan United independent party.

There are no armed forces. Under the 1962 treaty, Samoa can resort to military assistance from New Zealand.

Samoa has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR in 1976).

GDP per capita $1,300. The economy is developing unevenly. After 6.75% of the average GDP growth rate in 1994–96, in 1997–99 they fell to 1.9%, in 2000–01 they went up – 5.95%, then slowed down again. The basis of the economy is semi-subsistence agriculture. The population breeds cattle, pigs, poultry. The fishing industry is small, but the export of some fish products is growing. There are several small enterprises of the food, tobacco, clothing and footwear industries, producing souvenirs. In recent years, woodworking enterprises and the production of auto parts (for export) have appeared. 2/3 of the population is employed in agriculture, more than 20% in the service sector, 3.5% each in industry and transport.

The total length of roads is approx. 800 km (270 km – paved). The main sea gate of the country is Asau (Savaii). Of the 4 airports, 3 have paved runways. Between Upolu and Savaii there is a regular shipping and air traffic. The international airport near Apia accepts all types of aircraft. In 2002 – 3 thousand Internet users.

Foreign tourism (70-90 thousand tourists a year) has become an important source of foreign currency (25% of GDP). There is a 10-year plan to expand its infrastructure.

Agricultural products – 90% of exports: fish and fish products, coconut oil, cream and copra, taro, bananas, cocoa beans, coffee. Beer, timber, etc. are also exported. Finished goods and foodstuffs are imported. The main foreign economic partners are Australia, the USA, New Zealand.

Foreign aid is usually 4-5 times higher than export earnings, and remittances from compatriots living and working abroad also play an important role.

For children under 14, schooling is compulsory. Two colleges – tropical agriculture and vocational education. The National University was founded in 1984.

People of Samoa