Samoa

Introduction New Zealand occupied the German protectorate of Western Samoa at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. It continued to administer the islands as a mandate and then as a trust territory until 1962, when the islands became the first Polynesian nation to reestablish independence in the 20th century. The country dropped the "Western" from its name in 1997.
History

Contact with Europeans began in the early 18th century. Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutchman, was the first European to sight the Samoan islands in 1722. This visit was followed by a French Explorer by the name of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, the man who named them the Navigator Islands in 1768. Contact was limited before the 1830s which is when English missionaries and traders began arriving. Mission work in Samoa had begun in late 1830 by John Williams, of the London Missionary Society. By that time, the Samoans had gained a reputation of being savage and warlike, as they had clashed with French, British, German and American forces, who, by the late nineteenth century, valued Samoa as a refueling station for coal-fired shipping.

As the Germans began to show more interest in the Samoan Islands, the United States laid its own claim to them. Britain also sent troops to express its interest. There followed an eight-year civil war, where each of the three powers supplied arms, training, and in some cases combat troops, to the warring Samoan parties. All three sent warships into Apia harbor, and a larger-scale war seemed imminent, until a massive storm damaged or destroyed the warships, ending the military conflict. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Tripartite Convention partitioned the Samoan Islands into two parts: the eastern island group became a territory of the United States (the Tutuila Islands in 1900 and officially Manu'a in 1904) and is today known as American Samoa; the western islands, by far the greater landmass, became known as German Samoa after Britain vacated all claims to Samoa and accepted termination of German rights in Tonga and certain areas in the Solomon Islands and West Africa. The first German Governor was Wilhelm Solf who later went on to become Secretary for the Colonies of Imperial Germany. New Zealand troops landed on 'Upolu unopposed on 29 August 1914 and seized control from the German authorities, following a request by Britain for New Zealand to perform their "great and urgent imperial service."

From the end of World War I until 1962, New Zealand controlled Samoa as a Class C Mandate under trusteeship through the League of Nations. There followed a series of New Zealand administrators who were responsible for two major incidents. In the first incident, approximately one fifth of the Samoan population died in the Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. In 1919 The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Epidemic concluded that there had been no epidemic of pneumonic influenza in Western Samoa before the arrival of the 'Tahune' from Auckland on the 7th November, 1918 [which was allowed to berth by the NZ administration in breach of quarantine]; that within seven days of this ship's arrival pneumonic influenza had become epidemic in Upolu and had then spread rapidly throughout the rest of the territory.

The second major incident arose out of an initially peaceful protest by the Mau (literally translates as "Strongly held Opinion"), a non-violent popular movement which arose in the early 1920s in protest against the mistreatment of the Samoan people by the New Zealand administration. The Mau was initially lead by Olaf Nelson, who was half Samoan and half Swedish. Nelson was eventually exiled during the late 1920s and early 1930s but he continued to assist the organization financially and politically. In following the Mau's non-violent philosophy, the newly elected leader, High Chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi, led his fellow uniformed Mau in a peaceful demonstration in downtown Apia on December 28, 1929. The New Zealand police attempted to arrest one of the leaders in the demonstration. When he resisted, a struggle developed between the police and the Mau. The officers began to fire randomly into the crowd and a Lewis machine gun, mounted in preparation for this demonstration, was used to disperse the Mau. Chief Tamasese was shot from behind and killed while trying to bring calm and order to the Mau demonstrators, screaming "Peace, Samoa". Ten others died that day and approximately 50 were injured by gunshot wounds and police batons. That day would come to be known in Samoa as Black Saturday. The Mau grew, remaining steadfastly non-violent, and expanded to include a highly influential women's branch. After repeated efforts by the Samoan people, Western Samoa gained independence in 1962 and signed a Friendship Treaty with New Zealand. Samoa was the first country in the pacific to become independent.

In 2002, New Zealand's prime minister Helen Clark, on a trip to Samoa, formally apologised for New Zealand's role in these two incidents.

In July 1997, the constitution was amended to change the country's name from Western Samoa to Samoa, as it had been designated by the United Nations since joining the organization in 1976. The U.S. territory of American Samoa protested the move, asserting that the change diminished its own identity. American Samoans still use the terms Western Samoa and Western Samoans to describe the independent State of Samoa and its inhabitants. While the two Samoas share language and ethnicity, their cultures have recently followed different paths, with American Samoans often emigrating to Hawaiʻi and the U.S. mainland, and adopting many U.S. customs, such as the playing of American football and baseball. Western Samoans have tended to emigrate instead to New Zealand, whose influence has made the sports of rugby and cricket more popular in the western islands. Travel writer Paul Theroux noted that there were marked differences between the societies in Samoa and American Samoa.

Geography Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 13 35 S, 172 20 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 2,944 sq km
land: 2,934 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Rhode Island
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 403 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; rainy season (November to April), dry season (May to October)
Terrain: two main islands (Savaii, Upolu) and several smaller islands and uninhabited islets; narrow coastal plain with volcanic, rocky, rugged mountains in interior
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mauga Silisili (Savaii) 1,857 m
Natural resources: hardwood forests, fish, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 21.13%
permanent crops: 24.3%
other: 54.57% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons; active volcanism
Environment - current issues: soil erosion, deforestation, invasive species, overfishing
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: occupies an almost central position within Polynesia
Politics

The 1960 Constitution, which formally came into force with independence, is based on the British pattern of parliamentary democracy, modified to take account of Samoan customs. Two of Samoa's four princely titles (paramount chiefs) at the time of independence were given lifetime appointments to jointly hold the office of head of state. Malietoa Tanumafili II had held this post alone since the death of his colleague (Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole) in 1963. Malietoa Tanumafili II died 11 May 2007. He was the oldest living monarch at the time of his death. Since this moment Samoa became a republic. The next head of state Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi was elected by the legislature on the 17 June 2007 for a 5-year term.

The unicameral legislature (Fono) consists of 49 members serving 5-year terms. Forty-seven are elected from territorial districts by ethnic Samoans; the other two are chosen by non-Samoans with no chiefly affiliation on separate electoral rolls. Universal suffrage was extended in 1990, but only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the Samoan seats. There are more than 25,000 matais in the country, about 5% of whom are women. The prime minister is chosen by a majority in the Fono and is appointed by the head of state to form a government. The prime minister's choices for the 12 cabinet positions are appointed by the head of state, subject to the continuing confidence of the Fono.

The judicial system is based on English common law and local customs. The Supreme Court of Samoa is the court of highest jurisdiction. Its chief justice is appointed by the head of state upon the recommendation of the prime minister.

People Population: 217,083
note: prior estimates used official net migration data by sex, but a highly unusual pattern for 1993 lead to a significant imbalance in the sex ratios (more men and fewer women) and a seeming reduction in the female population; the revised total was calculated using a 1993 number that was an average of the 1992 and 1994 migration figures (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 37.9% (male 41,834/female 40,343)
15-64 years: 56.5% (male 64,402/female 58,257)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 5,481/female 6,766) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 20.6 years
male: 20.8 years
female: 20.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.322% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 28.2 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.84 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -9.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 25.04 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 29.56 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.29 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.58 years
male: 68.76 years
female: 74.55 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.18 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Samoan(s)
adjective: Samoan
Ethnic groups: Samoan 92.6%, Euronesians (persons of European and Polynesian blood) 7%, Europeans 0.4% (2001 census)
Religions: 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)
Languages: Samoan (Polynesian), English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.6%
female: 99.7% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2001)
Education expenditures: 4.3% of GDP (2002)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Independent State of Samoa
conventional short form: Samoa
local long form: Malo Sa'oloto Tuto'atasi o Samoa
local short form: Samoa
former: Western Samoa
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Apia
geographic coordinates: 13 50 S, 171 44 W
time difference: UTC-11 (6 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 11 districts; A'ana, Aiga-i-le-Tai, Atua, Fa'asaleleaga, Gaga'emauga, Gagaifomauga, Palauli, Satupa'itea, Tuamasaga, Va'a-o-Fonoti, Vaisigano
Independence: 1 January 1962 (from New Zealand-administered UN trusteeship)
National holiday: Independence Day Celebration, 1 June (1962); note - 1 January 1962 is the date of independence from the New Zealand-administered UN trusteeship; it is observed in June
Constitution: 1 January 1962
Legal system: based on English common law and local customs; judicial review of legislative acts with respect to fundamental rights of the citizen; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: TUIATUA Tupua Tamasese Efi (since 20 June 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Sailele Malielegaoi TUILA'EPA (since 1998); Deputy Prime Minister MISA Telefoni (since 2001)
cabinet: Cabinet consists of 12 members appointed by the chief of state on the prime minister's advice
elections: chief of state is elected by the Legislative Assembly to serve a five-year term (no term limits); election last held 15 June 2007 (next to be held in 2012); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually appointed prime minister by the chief of state with the approval of the Legislative Assembly
election results: TUIATUA Tupua Tamasese Efi unanimously elected by the Legislative Assembly
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fono (49 seats, 47 elected by voters affiliated with traditional village-based electoral districts, 2 elected by independent, mostly non-Samoan or part-Samoan, voters who cannot, (or choose not to) establish a village affiliation; only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the Fono from the 47 village-based electorates; members serve five-year terms)
elections: election last held 31 March 2006 (next election to be held not later than March 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - HRPP 35, SDUP 10, independents 4
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal; Supreme Court; District Court; Land and Titles Court
Political parties and leaders: Human Rights Protection Party or HRPP [Sailele Malielegaoi TUILA'EPA]; Samoa Christian Party or TCP [Tuala Tiresa MALIETOA]; Samoa Democratic United Party or SDUP [LE MAMEA Ropati]; Samoa Party or SP [Su'a Rimoni Ah CHONG]; Samoa Progressive Political Party or SPPP [Toeolesulusulu SIUEVA]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ACP, ADB, C, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, IPU, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Aliioaiga Feturi ELISAIA
chancery: 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400D, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 599-6196, 6197
FAX: [1] (212) 599-0797
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: none; US Ambassador to New Zealand is accredited to Samoa
embassy: Accident Corporation Building, 5th Floor, Matafele, Apia
mailing address: P. O. Box 3430, Matafele, Apia
telephone: [685] 21436/21631/21452/22696
FAX: [685] 22030
Flag description: red with a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side quadrant bearing five white five-pointed stars representing the Southern Cross constellation
Culture

The fa'a Samoa, or traditional Samoan way, remains a strong force in Samoan life and politics. Despite centuries of European influence, Samoa maintains its historical customs, social and political systems, and language. Samoans are deeply spiritual and religious people, and have subtly adapted the dominant religion of Christianity to 'fit in' with fa'a Samoa and vice versa. As such, ancient beliefs continue to co-exist side-by-side with Christianity, particularly in regard to the traditional customs and rituals of fa'a Samoa.

Samoans had gods of their own, as their mythological story of creation tells. The Samoan culture is centered around the principle of vāfealoa'i, the relationships between people. These relationships are based on respect, or fa'aaloalo. When Christianity was introduced in Samoa, most Samoan people converted. Currently 98% of the population identify themselves as Christian. The other 2 percent either identify themselves as irreligious, or do not belong to any congregation.

The Samoans have a communal way of life with little privacy. They do almost all their activities collectively. An example of this are the traditional Samoan fales (houses) which are open with no walls, using blinds made of coconut palm fronds during the night or bad weather.

As with many Polynesian islands with significant and unique tattoos, Samoans have two gender specific and culturally significant tattoos. For males, it is called the tatau and consists of intricate and geometrical patterns tattooed that cover areas from the knees up towards the ribs. A male who possesses such a tatau is called a soga'imiti. A Samoan girl or teine is given a malu, which covers the area from just below her knees to her upper thighs.

The traditional Samoan dance is the Siva. This dance is similar to the Hawaiian hula, with gentle movements of the hands and feet in time to music and which tells a story, although the Samoan male dances are more aggressive and snappy. The "Sasa" is also a traditional Samoan dance, in which rows of dancers perform rapid synchronised movements in time to drums tins, or rolled mats. Its name originates from the Samoan word for "slap"; hence the Samoan "slap dance," which is accomplished by slapping different parts of the body. This was originally derived from slapping insects on the body and later became a form of dance.

According to Katerina Martina Teaiwa, PhD from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, "Hip hop culture in particular is popular amongst Samoan youth." This is not surprising considering the large amounts of migration between Samoa, Hawaii, and the United States mainland, specifically California. In addition, the integration of hip hop elements into Samoan tradition also "testifies to the transferability of the dance forms themselves," and to the "circuits through which people and all their embodied knowledge travel." Dance both in its traditional form and its more modern forms has remained a central cultural currency to Samoans, especially youths. Teaiwa ends her article saying that the popularity of hip hop "is not necessarily oppositional to Samoan culture," and has rather been integrated into the "solid family structure that looks far from disappearing in the face of increasing modernity."

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