Samoa profile

Photo: Jane Ussher

Talofa lava

Flag of SamoaSamoa, known as Western Samoa until 1997, consists of nine volcanic islands, two of which - Savai'i and Upolu - comprise more than 99 percent of the land. The islands form part of Polynesia and lie about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand.

New Zealand and Samoa

At the outbreak of the First World War, New Zealand seized Western Samoa from Germany, administering the islands under UN mandate until 1962. Independence was achieved at the ballot box after years of campaigning by the Mau movement. A Treaty of Friendship with New Zealand was signed and underpins the close relationship between the two countries today.

Development and economy

Samoa’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture, which employs two-thirds of the population. Key exports include coconut cream, coconut oil, and copra. Manufacturing and tourism in particular are growing sectors, though family remittances from Samoan workers employed overseas remain important. In the 1990s Samoa's econmy was struck by cyclones, agricultural pests and a decrease in global prices for copra. The 2009 tsunami devastated people's crops and livelihoods.

Samoa has a very young population, with 33% under the age of 15. Providing productive employment for an increasing number of school leavers is a growing challenge, consequently, disillusionment amongst youth is being increasingly expressed through suicide, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, crime and violence.

Reference: Statistics from The World Factbook.

Stats and facts

  • Region: PolynesiaMap of Samoa
  • Capital: Apia
  • Population: 197,773 (2015)
  • GDP per capita (USD): $5,200 (2014)
  • Human Development Index: 0.694 (2013)
  • Language: Samoan, English
  • Religion: Christianity
  • Adult literacy: 99% (2015)
  • Life expectancy: 73.46 years (2015)
  • Government: mix of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
  • Access to safe water: 99% (2015)
  • Access to toilets: 91.5% (2015)
  • Infant mortality rate (per 1000 live births): 19.57 (2015)

Reference: Statistics from the UNDP Human Development Report and The World Factbook.


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External links and sources