American Samoa

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Oceania (Australasia)

Amerika Samoa
American Samoa
Flag of American Samoa American Samoa COA
( Flag) ( Seal)
National motto: Samoa, Muamua Le Atua (Samoa, Let God Be First)
Official languages English, Samoan
Capital Fagatogo
Head of State George W. Bush
Governor Togiola Tulafono
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 212th
199 km² (77.3  sq. mi)

 - Total (2005)
 - Density

Ranked 204th

353/km² (914/sq. mi)

Currency USD
Time zone UTC -11 (no DST)
National anthem Amerika Samoa
Internet TLD .as
Calling Code +1 684
Fatu Rock (right) and Futi Rock (left), islets on the reef of Tutuila at the entrance to Pago Pago Harbour (seen behind Fatu).

American Samoa ( Samoan: Amerika Samoa or Samoa Amelika) is an unincorporated U.S. territory located in the south Pacific Ocean southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa. The main (largest and most populous) island is Tutuila, with the Manu'a 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 . The total land area is 200.22 km² (77.305 sq mi).

Wikimedia Atlas of American Samoa .


Originally inhabited as early as 1000 BC, Samoa was not reached by European explorers until the 18th 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, where Manu'a once had influence. During the Tongan occupation of Samoa, Manu'a was the only island group that remained independent because of the familial relationship between the Tui Manu'a and the Tui Tonga, who was decended from a former Tui Manu'a. 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 18th century between French explorers and islanders in Tutuila, for which the Samoans were blamed in the West, giving them a reputation for ferocity. Early 19th 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 1830's, officially bringing Christianity to Samoa. Less than a hundred years later, the Samoan Congregationalist Church became the first independent indigenous church of the South Pacific.

International rivalries in the latter half of the 19th century were settled by an 1899 Treaty of Berlin in which Germany and the U.S. divided the Samoan archipelago. The U.S. formally occupied its portion—a smaller group of eastern islands with the noted harbour of Pago Pago—the following year. The western islands are now the independent state of Samoa.

After the U.S. took possession of American 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 Manuʻa in 1904. The last sovereign of Manuʻa, the Tui Manuʻa Elisala, was forced to sign a Deed of Cession of Manuʻa following a series of US Naval trials, known as the "Trial of the Ipu", in Pago Pago, Taʻu, and aboard a Pacific Squadron gunboat.

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 US Navy, in 1930 the US 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.

During World War II, U.S. Marines in American 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. As in WWI, American Samoans served in WWII as combatants, medical personnel, code personnel, ship repairs, etc.

After the war, Organic Act 4500, a U.S. Department of Interior-sponsored attempt to incorporate American Samoa, was defeated in Congress, primarily through the efforts of American 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, the territory's de facto and de jure capital. (See the Capital City section below for more information on Fagatogo.)

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.

Employment on the island basically 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 (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.


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 pluriform 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 1966 and came into effect 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 Democrats) 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.

Capital city

Although many respected reference sources list the neighboring village Pago Pago of as the capital, Fagatogo is the de facto and de jure (i.e., constitutionally designated; cf. Article 5, Section 9) seat of government. Additionally, the governor's office is located in the village of Utulei, located on the opposite side of Fagatogo from Pago Pago. The reason why many sources list Pago Pago is because the name Pago Pago, the most popular port of call in American Samoa, has become associated with the harbor itself; thus Pago Pago is now generally applied to the harbour area and the capital. However, both the port itself and the legislature of American Samoa—known as the Fono—are located in Fagatogo, a village that is adjacent to (and for all practical purposes indistinguishable from) Pago Pago. (Cf. Wikipedia entry for Pago Pago.)


Persons born in American Samoa are United States nationals, but not United States citizens. Such status is only conferred on persons born in the districts of American Samoa and Swains Island, but not to persons born in unorganized atolls.

Administrative divisions

American Samoa is administratively divided into 3 districts and 2 "unorganized" atolls.

The districts and unorganized atolls are subdivided into 66 villages.





Public schools in American Samoa are operated by the American Samoa Department of Education .


The culture in American Samoa is basically the same as in Western Samoa(Upolu). There are no major differences in culture between the two, save for the people themselves. (see Samoa)


About 30 ethnic Samoans, many from American Samoa, currently play in the National Football League. A 2002 article from ESPN 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. A number have also ventured into professional wrestling (see especially Anoa'i wrestling family).

The bloodsport of dog fighting is legal in American Samoa.

The Origin of Samoa

The origin of Samoa, according to the stories told by the chiefs, is that Samoan people are actually from an unknown land call "Saviki" (which most people believe is Savaii.) According to the Samoan old belief that everyone in the Polynesian area are from savaiki, which is in Savaii. This is in accord with folk stories from other cultures in the Polynesian area: The Tongans believed that Tongan people are from Hauaiki, Māori people believe that they are from "Hawaiki". Hawaiians believed that they are from Hawaii. It was originally believed that all Polynesians migrated from Hawaii, but DNA analysis indicates that these cultures are closely related to Samoans. It is thought that following migrations from Samoa led northward(to Hawaii), southward (to Māori settlements), eastward (to Fiji) and westward (to Tonga).


  • American Samoa is the location of Rose Atoll, the southernmost point in the territory of the United States; see extreme points of the United States.
  • In March of 1889, a German naval force shelled a village in Samoa, and by doing so destroyed some American property. Three American warships then entered the Samoan harbour 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.
  • 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.
  • Samoans are generally modest and tend to cover up much of the body, even while swimming.
  • The pronunciation of "Pago Pago" is pango pango.

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