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.



Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand

Geographic coordinates

13 35 S, 172 20 W

Map references



total: 2,831 sq km
land: 2,821 sq km
water: 10 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Rhode Island

Land boundaries

0 km


403 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; rainy season (November to April), dry season (May to October)


two main islands (Savaii, Upolu) and several smaller islands and uninhabited islets; narrow coastal plain with volcanic, rugged mountains in interior


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Silisili 1,857 m

Natural resources

hardwood forests, fish, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 12.4%
arable land 2.8%; permanent crops 7.8%; permanent pasture 1.8%
forest: 60.4%
other: 27.2% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

occasional typhoons; active volcanism
volcanism: Savai'I Island (elev. 1,858 m), which last erupted in 1911, is historically active

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

People and Society

Ethnic groups

Samoan 92.6%, Euronesians (persons of European and Polynesian blood) 7%, Europeans 0.4% (2001 census)


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 2016 est.)


noun: Samoan(s)
adjective: Samoan


Samoan (Polynesian) (official), English


Protestant 57.4% (Congregationalist 31.8%, Methodist 13.7%, Assembly of God 8%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.9%), Roman Catholic 19.4%, Mormon 15.2%, Worship Centre 1.7%, other Christian 5.5%, other 0.7%, none 0.1%, unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 32.04% (male 32,893/female 30,847)
15-24 years: 19.89% (male 20,302/female 19,258)
25-54 years: 35.95% (male 36,889/female 34,631)
55-64 years: 6.52% (male 6,602/female 6,364)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 4,843/female 6,297) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 74%
youth dependency ratio: 64.9%
elderly dependency ratio: 9.1%
potential support ratio: 11% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 23.9 years
male: 23.7 years
female: 24.2 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.59% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

20.6 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-9.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 19.1% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: -0.24% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

APIA (capital) 37,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

51 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 19 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 22.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.7 years
male: 70.8 years
female: 76.8 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.77 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

28.7% (2009)

Health expenditures

7.2% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.45 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Drinking water source

urban: 97.5% of population
rural: 99.3% of population
total: 99% of population
urban: 2.5% of population
rural: 0.7% of population
total: 1% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 93.3% of population
rural: 91.1% of population
total: 91.5% of population
urban: 6.7% of population
rural: 8.9% of population
total: 8.5% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Major infectious diseases

note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

41.6% (2014)

Education expenditures

5.1% of GDP (2008)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99.1%
female: 98.8% (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2009 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 19.1%
male: 15.6%
female: 25.3% (2012 est.)


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
note: the name "Samoa" is composed of two parts, "sa" meaning sacred and "moa" meaning center, so the name can mean Holy Center; alternatively, it can mean "place of the sacred moa bird" of Polynesian mythology

Government type

parliamentary republic


name: Apia
geographic coordinates: 13 49 S, 171 46 W
time difference: UTC+13 (18 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
+1hr, begins last Sunday in September; ends first Sunday in April

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


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


several previous (preindependence); latest 1 January 1962; amended several times, last in 2015 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts with respect to fundamental rights of the citizen

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Samoa
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


21 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: TUI ATUA Tupua Tamasese Efi (since 20 June 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister TUILA'EPA Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi (since 1998); Deputy Prime Minister FONOTOE Pierre Lauofo (since 2011)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the chief of state on the prime minister's advice
elections/appointments: chief of state indirectly elected by the Legislative Assembly to serve a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 20 July 2012 (next to be held in 2017); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party usually appointed prime minister by the chief of state, approved by the Legislative Assembly
election results: TUI ATUA Tupua Tamasese Efi unanimously elected by the Legislative Assembly

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fono (49 seats; 47 members - traditional family chiefs or matai and 2 members - part-Samoan or non-Samoan - directly elected by simple majority vote; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: election last held on 4 March 2016 (next election to be held no later than March 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - HRPP 44, Tautua Samoa 3, independents 2

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and 2 Supreme Court judges and meets once or twice a year); Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and several judges)
judge selection and term of office: chief justice appointed by the head of state upon the advice of the prime minister; other Supreme Court judges appointed by the Judicial Service Commission, a 3-member body chaired by the chief justice and includes the attorney general and an appointee of the Minister of Justice; judges normally appointed until retirement at age 68
subordinate courts: District Court; Magistrates' Courts; Land and Titles Courts; village fono or village chief councils

Political parties and leaders

Human Rights Protection Party or HRPP [Sailele Malielegaoi TUILA'EPA]
Samoa Christian Party or TCP [Tuala Tiresa MALIETOA]
Samoa Progressive Political Party or SPPP [Toalepaiali'i Toesulusulu S'iueva POSE II]
Tautua Samoa [Leatinu'u Salole LESA]

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Aliioaiga Feturi ELISAIA (since 4 December 2003)
chancery: 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400J, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 599-6196 through 6197
FAX: [1] (212) 599-0797
consulate(s) general: Pago Pago (American Samoa)

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: the US does not have an embassy in Samoa; the 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; red stands for courage, blue represents freedom, and white signifies purity

National symbol(s)

Southern Cross constellation (five, five-pointed stars); national colors: red, white, blue

National anthem

name: "O le Fu'a o le Sa'olotoga o Samoa" (The Banner of Freedom)
lyrics/music: Sauni Liga KURESA
note: adopted 1962; also known as "Samoa Tula'i" (Samoa Arise)


Economy - overview

The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, family remittances from overseas, tourism, agriculture, and fishing. It has a nominal GDP of $780 million. Agriculture, including fishing, employs roughly two-thirds of the labor fo

The country is vulnerable to devastating storms. In September 2009, an earthquake and the resulting tsunami severely damaged Samoa and nearby American Samoa, disrupting transportation and power generation, and resulting in about 200 deaths. In December 20

The Samoan Government has called for deregulation of the country's financial sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal discipline, while at the same time protecting the environment. Foreign reserves are relatively healthy and inflation is

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.046 billion (2016 est.)
$1.015 billion (2015 est.)
$999.1 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$876 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

3% (2016 est.)
1.6% (2015 est.)
1.2% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$5,400 (2016 est.)
$5,300 (2015 est.)
$5,200 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 10.7%
industry: 24%
services: 65.4% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

coconuts, nonu, bananas, taro, yams, coffee, cocoa


food processing, building materials, auto parts

Industrial production growth rate

6.4% (2016 est.)

Labor force

49,180 (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 65%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment rate


Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $233 million
expenditures: $271.8 million (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

26.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

June 1 - May 31

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2% (2016 est.)
0.7% (2015 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

9.4% (31 December 2016 est.)
9.39% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$129.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$116.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$352 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$334.4 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$382.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$360.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$29 million (2016 est.)
-$31 million (2015 est.)


$24 million (2013 est.)
$27.5 million (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

fish, coconut oil and cream, nonu, copra, taro, automotive parts, garments, beer

Exports - partners

American Samoa 57.1%, Australia 17.2% (2015)


$325.3 million (2013 est.)
$341.3 million (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, industrial supplies, foodstuffs

Imports - partners

Fiji 22.6%, NZ 18.8%, China 15.8%, South Korea 7.9%, Australia 6%, US 5.6%, Singapore 5.2% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$139.4 million (31 December 2015 est.)
$140.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external

$447.2 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$450.2 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

tala (SAT) per US dollar -
2.575 (2016 est.)
2.5609 (2015 est.)
2.5609 (2014 est.)
2.3318 (2013 est.)
2.29 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 10,942
electrification - total population: 94%
electrification - urban areas: 100%
electrification - rural areas: 93% (2012)

Electricity - production

100 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

100 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

45,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

71.4% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

28.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

1,700 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

1,688 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

200,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 10,886
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 113,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 57 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: adequate
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 60 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 685; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2015)

Broadcast media

state-owned TV station privatized in 2008; 4 privately owned television broadcast stations; about a half-dozen privately owned radio stations and one state-owned radio station; TV and radio broadcasts of several stations from American Samoa are available (2009)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 50,000
percent of population: 25.4% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 270,908
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

5W (2016)


4 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2013)


total: 2,337 km
paved: 332 km
unpaved: 2,005 km (2001)

Merchant marine

total: 2
by type: cargo 1, passenger/cargo 1
foreign-owned: 1 (NZ 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Apia


Military branches

no regular military forces; Samoa Police Force

Military - note

Samoa has no formal defense structure or regular armed forces; informal defense ties exist with NZ, which is required to consider any Samoan request for assistance under the 1962 Treaty of Friendship

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international