Islands of Samoa
Samoa is a group of islands in the South Pacific about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. More precisely, it lies between longitudes 171 and 172 west, and latitudes 13 and 14 south of the equator. It is comprised of two larger islands - Upolu and Savaii - and eight smaller islands, five of which are uninhabited.
PEOPLE & POPULATION
Samoans are Polynesian in origin and have arguably the best preserved traditional Polynesian culture. The Samoan population is approximately 200,000 people, and includes people of Samoan, other Pacific islands, Chinese and European origin, with most speaking both English and Samoan.
All people share a harmonious and laidback way of life, much of which has seen a lot of aesthetic changes while still steeped in traditions and a culture that dates back hundreds of thousands of years.
Samoa enjoys a tropical climate throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 23-30 degrees Celsius. In Apia the heaviest rainfalls occur between November and March. The temperature and humidity are reduced by the southeast trade winds between May and November.
During the day, the land warms up quickly and warm air rises uphill, condenses and forms hilltop clouds seen in Afiamalu and Le Mafa Pass. In the evening the opposite happens; the land cools quickly and the cool air rushes downhill providing a refreshing land breeze.
Tropical cyclones occur on average every 10-15 years. In the 1990s there were two strong cyclones. Cyclone Ofa struck in February 1990 with winds of 250km/hr, killing 16 people and levelling much of Savaii. Cyclone Val struck only one year later, also killing 16 with speeds of 260km/hr and 25m waves. Together these two cyclones caused a total of US$380 million damage to property and infrastructure. However, the Samoan resilience shone through - the country recovered just as quickly through the solidarity of its overseas citizens and international community.
FACTS AND FIGURES
- Capital: Apia
- Airport: Faleolo International Airport
- Population: 186,640 (2007 est.)
- Population Density (people/sq.km): 65 (2004)
- Urban Population (% of total pop): 22% (2004)
- Population Growth Rate: 1.29% (2007 est.)
- Total Land Mass: 2,944 sq. km
- Number of Islands: 10
- Official Languages: Samoan & English
- Literacy Rate: 99% (2003)
- Currency: Tala (100 Sene = $1 Tala)
- Political Status: The first nation in the region to gain Independence - from New Zealand - in 1962
- Head of State: Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi
- Prime Minister: Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi
- Governing Party: Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP)
- Form of Government: Democratically-elected, British based parliamentary system
- Labour Work Force: 95% of 21,683 (2004)