SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 2,842 Sq Km (1,097 Sq Mi)

Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & 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 700.

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 100 Sene.

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, Tourism.

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; N/A.

COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; nil. Radio; receivers 75,000 (1990). Television; receivers 9,000 (1990). Telephones; lines 6,500 (1993).

MILITARY: see Modern History.

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