OFFICIAL NAME: Samoa
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 2,842 Sq Km (1,097 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 191,300
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Western Samoa is located in the
South West Pacific Ocean and consists of two large islands,
Upolu and Savaii as well as a number of smaller islands.
The two principal islands are separated by the Apolima Strait
and are of volcanic origin while the coasts are ringed by
coral reefs. The islands are dominated by a rugged and mountainous
terrain which is covered with tropical vegetation. Additionally,
the islands contain many extinct volcanoes and old lava
fields while the principal rivers and streams are the Sili,
Faleate, Alia Senga and Vaisingano. Major Cities (pop. est.);
Apia 34,000 (1993). Land Use; forested 47%, pastures 0.5%,
agricultural-cultivated 43%, other 9.5% (1993).
CLIMATE: Western Samoa has a tropical climate with two seasons.
A dry season from May to October and a wet season from November to April.
The hottest month is December and the coolest is July. Most rainfall occurs
during the wet season and average annual precipitation is around 2,870
mm (113 inches) while occasional hurricanes may occur. Average temperature
ranges are from 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit) to 30 degrees
Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) all year.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Samoans who account
for nearly 88% of the population and are the second largest Polynesian
group. The remainder are made up of predominantly Euronesians who are of
mixed Polynesian and European descent while the Europeans only number around
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 58.6 persons per sq km
(151.9 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 23.0% urban, 77.0% rural
(1993). Sex Distribution; 52.0% male, 48.0% female (1986). Life Expectancy
at Birth; 64.0 years male, 69.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 41%
under 15, 31% 15 to 29, 13% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and
over (1986). Birth Rate; 34.0 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 7.0 per 1,000
(1990). Increase Rate; 27.0 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 48.0
per 1,000 live births (1990).
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 47% of the population belonging
to the Congregational Christian Church of Western Samoa while the Roman
Catholic and Methodist Churches account for 20% of the population each.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are Samoan and English. Samoan
is a Polynesian dialect and English is taught in schools as well as used
for government and commerce purposes.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: incomplete primary
16.5%, primary 24.5%, incomplete secondary 52.1%, secondary 3.1%, higher
2.0%, unspecified 1.8% (1981). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or
over virtually 100% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: After World War II the UN made
Western Samoa a trust territory under New Zealand which began preparing
the nation for independence. In 1957 Western Samoa gained internal self-government
while New Zealand remained responsible for the island's defense and in
1961 the people voted to accept a new constitution under a UN supervised
plebiscite. On Jan. 1, 1962 Western Samoa gained full independence and
in 1970 joined the Commonwealth as well as the UN in 1976. In Feb. 1988
Tofilau Eti Alesana was elected Prime Minister. In Feb. 1990 Cyclone Ofa
caused widespread property damage estimated at USD $120 Million. In April
1991 Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana was re-elected for another term
following general elections and the introduction of universal adult suffrage.
In Oct. 1991 Prime Minister Alesana voiced concerns to the UN General Assembly
over global warming and its' impact on small island countries as well as
other countries attempts to dump toxic waste in the pacific region. In
Dec. 1991 Cyclone Val struck the island nation killing 12 people and causing
widespread damage. In 1992 a severe outbreak of Taro blight in addition
to the 1991 cyclone damage put further strains on the domestic economy.
In 1993 Western Samoa launched its first full television broadcasting facility
airing both local programs and overseas satellite transmissions. Also in
1993 three members of Prime Minister Alesana's Human Rights Protection
Party were expelled which led to Alesana offering his resignation, although
it wasn't accepted and he remained in office.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Tala (T) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $160,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $139,200,000 (1993). Imports; T 269,079,000 (1993). Exports;
T 16,522,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $21,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; T -178,638,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 47,207
or 28.7% of total population (1994). Unemployed; N/A.
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are New Zealand,
Australia, Japan, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cattle, Cocoa, Copra, Taro, Timber.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Fishing, Light Industry, Timber,
MAIN EXPORTS: Cocoa, Coconut Oil, Taro, Timber.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 2,085 km (1,296 mi)
(1987). Vehicles; cars 1,757 (1985), trucks and buses 2,593 (1985). Merchant
Marine; vessels 9 (1990), deadweight tonnage 35,290 (1990). Air Transport;
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; nil. Radio; receivers 75,000
(1990). Television; receivers 9,000 (1990). Telephones; lines 6,500 (1993).
MILITARY: see Modern History.