Coordinates: 13°35′S 172°20′W / 13.583°S 172.333°W /
Independent State of Samoa
Malo Saʻoloto Tutoʻatasi o Sāmoa (Samoan)
Coat of arms
Motto: "Faʻavae i le
Samoa is founded on God"
Anthem: O le fuʻa o le saʻolotoga o Samoa
"The Banner of Freedom"
The National Anthem of Samoa
and largest city
13°50′S 171°45′W / 13.833°S 171.750°W / -13.833;
Ethnic groups (2001)
0.1% East Asian
Unitary parliamentary democracy
• O le Ao o le Malo
Va'aletoa Sualauvi II
• Prime Minister
Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi
Independence from New Zealand
• Treaty of Berlin
14 June 1889
• Tripartite Convention
16 February 1900
• Colonization by Germany
1 March 1900
• Colonization by New Zealand
30 August 1914
• League mandate
17 December 1920
• UN trusteeship
13 December 1946
Samoa Act 1961
1 January 1962
2,842 km2 (1,097 sq mi) (167th)
• Water (%)
• November 2016 census
68/km2 (176.1/sq mi)
• Per capita
• Per capita
high · 105th
• Summer (DST)
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
Head of state.
Since 31 December 2011.
Since 7 September 2009.
Samoa (/səˈmoʊə/), officially the Independent State of Samoa
(Samoan: Malo Saʻoloto Tutoʻatasi o Sāmoa)(Samoan: Sāmoa,
IPA: [ˈsaːmoa]) and, until 4 July 1997, known as Western Samoa,
is a unitary parliamentary democracy with eleven administrative
divisions. The two main islands are
Upolu with four
smaller islands surrounding the landmasses. The capital city is Apia.
Lapita people discovered and settled the
Samoan Islands around
3,500 years ago. They developed a unique
Samoan language and Samoan
Samoa is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Western
admitted to the
United Nations on 15 December 1976. The entire
island group, which includes American Samoa, was called "Navigator
Islands" by European explorers before the 20th century because of the
Samoans' seafaring skills.
German Samoa (1900–1914)
New Zealand rule (1914–1962)
1.3 Independence (1962)
1.4 1997 name change
1.5 21st century
2.1 Administrative divisions
2.2 Human rights
2.3 Christian revival
5.1 Ethnic groups
7.2 Contemporary culture
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Main article: History of Samoa
The oldest date so far for remains in
Samoa has been calculated by New
Zealand scientists to a likely true age of circa 3,000 years ago from
Lapita site at
Mulifanua during the 1970s.
The origins of the
Samoans are closely studied in modern research
Polynesia in various scientific disciplines such as genetics,
linguistics and anthropology. Scientific research is ongoing, although
a number of different theories exist; including one proposing that the
Samoans originated from
Austronesian predecessors during the terminal
Lapita expansion period from Southeast Asia and Melanesia
between 2,500 and 1,500 BCE.
Intimate sociocultural and genetic ties were maintained between Samoa,
Fiji, and Tonga, and the archaeological record supports oral tradition
and native genealogies that indicate inter-island voyaging and
intermarriage between pre-colonial Samoans, Fijians, and Tongans.
Notable figures in Samoan history included the
Tui Manu'a line and
Salamasina (15th century).
Nafanua was a famous woman warrior
who was deified in ancient Samoan religion.
Studio photo depicting preparation of the
Samoa 'ava ceremony
Samoa 'ava ceremony c. 1911.
Interior of Samoan house, Apia, Urville 1842.
Europeans began in the early 18th century. Jacob
Roggeveen, a Dutchman, was the first known European to sight the
Samoan islands in 1722. This visit was followed by French explorer
Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, who named them the Navigator Islands in
1768. Contact was limited before the 1830s, which is when English
missionaries and traders began arriving.
Christian missionary work in
Samoa began in 1830 by John Williams, of
London Missionary Society
London Missionary Society arriving in
Sapapali'i from The Cook
Islands and Tahiti. According to Barbara A. West, "The Samoans
were also known to engage in ‘headhunting', a ritual of war in which
a warrior took the head of his slain opponent to give to his leader,
thus proving his bravery." However, Robert Louis Stevenson, who
Samoa from 1889 until his death in 1894, wrote in A Footnote
to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa, "… the
Exiled orator Lauaki Namulau'ulu Mamoe.
The Germans in particular began to show great commercial interest in
the Samoan Islands, especially on the island of Upolu, where German
firms monopolised copra and cocoa bean processing. The United States
laid its own claim, based on commercial shipping interests in Pearl
Hawaii and Pago Pago Bay in Eastern Samoa, and forced
alliances, most conspicuously on the islands of
Tutuila and Manu'a
which became American Samoa.
Britain also sent troops to protect British business enterprise,
harbour rights, and consulate office. This was followed by an
eight-year civil war, during which each of the three powers supplied
arms, training and in some cases combat troops to the warring Samoan
Samoan crisis came to a critical juncture in March 1889
when all three colonial contenders sent warships into
and a larger-scale war seemed imminent. A massive storm on 15 March
1889 damaged or destroyed the warships, ending the military
Samoan Civil War
Samoan Civil War reached a head in 1898 when Germany, the
United Kingdom, and the
United States were locked in dispute over who
should control the
Samoa Islands. The Siege of
Apia occurred in March
1899. Samoan forces loyal to Prince Tanu were besieged by a larger
force of Samoan rebels loyal to Mata'afa Iosefo. Supporting Prince
Tanu were landing parties from four British and American warships.
After several days of fighting, the Samoan rebels were finally
Mata'afa Iosefo (1832–1912) paramount chief and rival for the
kingship of Samoa
American and British warships shelled
Apia on 15 March 1899, including
the USS Philadelphia. Germany, the
United Kingdom and the United
States quickly resolved to end the hostilities and divided the island
chain at the
Tripartite Convention of 1899, signed at Washington on 2
December 1899 with ratifications exchanged on 16 February 1900.
The eastern island-group became a territory of the
United States (the
Tutuila Islands in 1900 and officially
Manu'a in 1904) and was known
as American Samoa. The western islands, by far the greater landmass,
became German Samoa. The
United Kingdom had vacated all claims in
Samoa and in return received (1) termination of German rights in
Tonga, (2) all of the
Solomon Islands south of Bougainville, and (3)
territorial alignments in West Africa.
German Samoa (1900–1914)
People in attendance at Tupua Tamesese's funeral.
Main article: German Samoa
German Empire governed the western Samoan islands from 1900 to
1914. "Over all, the period of German rule was the most progressive,
economically, that the country has experienced."
Wilhelm Solf was
appointed the colony’s first governor. His actions and conduct
became "… paternal, fair and absolute". In 1908, when the
non-violent Mau a Pule resistance movement arose, Solf did not
hesitate to banish the Mau leader Lauaki Namulau'ulu Mamoe to Saipan
in the German Northern Mariana Islands.
The German colonial administration governed on the principle that
"there was only one government in the islands." Thus, there was no
Samoan Tupu (king), nor an alii sili (similar to a governor), but two
Fautua (advisors) were appointed by the colonial government. Tumua and
Pule (traditional governments of
Upolu and Savai'i) were for a time
silent; all decisions on matters affecting lands and titles were under
the control of the colonial Governor.
In the first month of World War I, on 29 August 1914, troops of the
New Zealand Expeditionary Force landed unopposed on
Upolu and seized
control from the German authorities, following a request by Great
New Zealand to perform this "great and urgent imperial
New Zealand rule (1914–1962)
Main article: Western
Samoa Trust Territory
From the end of
World War I
World War I until 1962,
New Zealand controlled Samoa
as a Class C Mandate under trusteeship through the League of
Nations, then through the United Nations. There followed a series
New Zealand administrators who were responsible for two major
incidents. In the first incident, approximately one fifth of the
Samoan population died in the influenza epidemic of 1918–1919.
Between 1919 and 1962,
Samoa was administered by the Department of
External Affairs, a government department which had been specially
created to oversee New Zealand's Island Territories and Samoa. In
1943, this Department was renamed the Department of Island Territories
after a separate Department of External Affairs was created to conduct
New Zealand's foreign affairs.
In 1919, the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Epidemic concluded
that there had been no epidemic of pneumonic influenza in Western
Samoa before the arrival of the
SS Talune from
Auckland on 7 November
1918. The NZ administration allowed the ship to berth in breach of
quarantine; within seven days of this ship's arrival, influenza became
Upolu and then spread rapidly throughout the rest of the
The second major incident arose out of an initially peaceful protest
by the Mau (which literally translates as "strongly held opinion"), a
non-violent popular movement which had its beginnings in the early
1900s on Savai'i, led by Lauaki Namulauulu Mamoe, an orator chief
deposed by Solf. In 1909, Lauaki was exiled to
Saipan and died en
route back to
Samoa in 1915.
Samoa had a population of some 38,000
Samoans and 1,500
Samoans greatly resented New Zealand's colonial rule, and
blamed inflation and the catastrophic 1918 flu epidemic on its
misrule. By the late 1920s the resistance movement against
colonial rule had gathered widespread support. One of the Mau leaders
was Olaf Frederick Nelson, a half Samoan and half Swedish
merchant. Nelson was eventually exiled during the late 1920s and
early 1930s, but he continued to assist the organisation financially
and politically. In accordance with the Mau's non-violent philosophy,
the newly elected leader, High Chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi, led his
fellow uniformed Mau in a peaceful demonstration in downtown
28 December 1929.
New Zealand police attempted to arrest one of the leaders in the
demonstration. When he resisted, a struggle developed between the
police and the Mau. The officers began to fire randomly into the crowd
and a Lewis machine gun, mounted in preparation for this
demonstration, was used to disperse the demonstrators. Chief
Tamasese was shot from behind and killed while trying to bring calm
and order to the Mau demonstrators, screaming "Peace, Samoa". Ten
others died that day and approximately 50 were injured by gunshot
wounds and police batons. That day would come to be known in Samoa
as Black Saturday. The Mau grew, remaining steadfastly non-violent,
and expanded to include the highly influential women's branch.
After repeated efforts by the Samoan independence movement, the New
Samoa Act 1961 of 24 November 1961 granted Samoa
independence, effective on 1 January 1962, upon which the Trusteeship
Samoa also signed a friendship treaty
with New Zealand. Samoa, the first small-island country in the Pacific
to become independent, joined the
Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations on 28 August
1970. While independence was achieved at the beginning of January,
Samoa annually celebrates 1 June as its independence day.
Paul Theroux noted marked differences between the
societies in Western
American Samoa in 1992.
In 2002, New Zealand's prime minister
Helen Clark formally apologised
for New Zealand's role in the events of 1918 and 1929.
1997 name change
On 4 July 1997 the government amended the constitution to change the
country's name from Western
Samoa to Samoa. American Samoa
protested against the move, asserting that the change diminished its
On 7 September 2009, the government changed the driving orientation
Samoans now drive on the left side of the road. This
Samoa into line with many other countries in the region. Samoa
thus became the first country in the 21st century to switch to driving
on the left.
At the end of December 2011,
Samoa jumped forward by one day, omitting
30 December from the local calendar, when the nation moved to the west
of the International Date Line. This change aimed to help the
nation boost its economy in doing business with
Australia and New
Zealand. Before this change,
Samoa was 21 hours behind Sydney, but the
change means it is now three hours ahead. The previous time zone,
implemented on 4 July 1892, operated in line with American traders
based in California.
In June 2017, Parliament voted to amend the wording of Article 1 of
the constitution, thereby making
Christianity the state
Politics of Samoa
Politics of Samoa and Fa'amatai
Government buildings in Apia.
The 1960 constitution, which formally came into force with
New Zealand in 1962, builds on the British pattern
of parliamentary democracy, modified to take account of Samoan
customs. The national modern Government of
Samoa is referred to as
Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu’u II, one of the four highest-ranking
paramount chiefs in the country, became Samoa's first Prime Minister.
Two other paramount chiefs at the time of independence were appointed
joint heads of state for life.
Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole
Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole died in 1963,
Malietoa Tanumafili II
Malietoa Tanumafili II sole head of state until his death on
11 May 2007, upon which
Samoa changed from a constitutional monarchy
to a parliamentary republic de facto.[dubious – discuss] The
next Head of State, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, was elected by the
legislature on 17 June 2007 for a fixed five-year term, and was
re-elected unopposed in July 2012.
The unicameral legislature (the Fono) consists of 49 members serving
5-year terms. Forty-seven are matai title-holders elected from
territorial districts by Samoans; the other two are chosen by
Samoans with no chiefly affiliation on separate electoral
rolls. Universal suffrage was adopted in 1990, but only chiefs
(matai) may stand for election to the Samoan seats. There are more
than 25,000 matais in the country, about 5% of whom are women. The
prime minister, chosen by a majority in the Fono, is appointed by the
head of state to form a government. The prime minister's choices for
the 12 cabinet positions are appointed by the head of state, subject
to the continuing confidence of the Fono.
Prominent women in Samoan politics include the late Laulu
Fetauimalemau Mata'afa (1928–2007) from
Lotofaga constituency, the
wife of Samoa's first prime minister. Their daughter Fiame Naomi
Mata'afa is a paramount chief and a long-serving senior member of
cabinet. Other women in politics include Samoan scholar and eminent
professor Aiono Fanaafi Le Tagaloa, orator-chief Matatumua Maimoana
Safuneitu'uga Pa'aga Neri (as of 2016[update] the Minister of
Communication and Technology).
The judicial system incorporates
English common law
English common law and local customs.
The Supreme Court of
Samoa is the court of highest jurisdiction. Its
chief justice is appointed by the head of state upon the
recommendation of the prime minister.
Main article: Districts of Samoa
Samoa comprises eleven itūmālō (political districts). These are the
traditional eleven districts which predate European arrival. Each
district has its own constitutional foundation (faavae) based on the
traditional order of title precedence found in each district's
faalupega (traditional salutations).
The capital village of each district administers and coordinates the
affairs of the district and confers each district's paramount title,
amongst other responsibilities. For example, the District of
its capital at Leulumoega. The paramount title of
A'ana is the
TuiA'ana. The orator group which confers this title – the Faleiva
(House of Nine) – is based at Leulumoega. This is also the same for
the other districts. In the district of Tuamasaga, the paramount title
of the district – the Malietoa title – is conferred by the
Tuamasaga based in Afega.
Political districts of Samoa
(including minor islands)
1 including islands Manono,
Apolima and Nu'ulopa
2 including the
Aleipata Islands and
3 smaller parts also on
Upolu (Salamumu (incl. Salamumu-Uta) and
See also: Human rights in Samoa
Major areas of concern include the under-representation of women,
domestic violence and poor prison conditions. Homosexual acts are
illegal in Samoa.
In June 2017, an Act was passed changing the country's constitution to
include a reference to the Trinity. As amended, Article 1 of the
Samoan Constitution states that “
Samoa is a Christian nation founded
of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. According to The
Samoa has done is shift references to Christianity
into the body of the constitution, giving the text far more potential
to be used in legal processes." The preamble to the constitution
already described the country as "an independent State based on
Christian principles and Samoan custom and traditions."
Main article: Geography of Samoa
A map of Samoa.
Topography of Samoa.
Samoa is located south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii
New Zealand in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. The
total land area is 2,842 km² (1,097 sq mi),
consisting of the two large islands of
Upolu and Savai'i, which
account for 99% of the total land area, and eight small islets.
These are the three islets in the
Apolima Strait (Manono Island,
Apolima and Nu'ulopa), the four
Aleipata Islands off the eastern end
Upolu (Nu'utele, Nu'ulua, Namua, and Fanuatapu), and Nu'usafe'e
which is less than 0.01 km² (2½ acres) in area and about
1.4 km (0.9 mi) off the south coast of
Upolu at the village
of Vaovai. The main island of
Upolu is home to nearly
three-quarters of Samoa's population, and its capital city is Apia.
The Samoan islands have been produced by vulcanism, the source of
which is the
Samoa hotspot which is probably the result of a mantle
plume. While all of the islands have volcanic origins, only
Savai'i, the westernmost island in Samoa, is volcanically active with
the most recent eruptions in
Mt Matavanu (1905–1911), Mata o le Afi
Mauga Afi (1725). The highest point in
Samoa is Mt
Silisili, at 1858 m (6,096 ft). The
Saleaula lava fields
situated on the central north coast of
Savai'i are the result of the
Mt Matavanu eruptions which left 50 km² (20 sq mi) of
The climate is equatorial/monsoonal, with an average annual
temperature of 26.5 °C (79.7 °F), and a rainy season from
November to April.
Savai'i is the largest of the Samoan islands
and the sixth largest Polynesian island after New Zealand's North,
South and Stewart Islands and the Hawaiian islands of Hawaiʻi and
Maui. The population of
Savai'i is 42,000 people.
Climate data for Apia
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
World Meteorological Organization
World Meteorological Organization (UN)
List of birds of Samoa and List of protected areas of Samoa
Samoa is located within the
Samoan tropical moist forests
Samoan tropical moist forests ecoregion.
Since human habitation began, about 80% of the lowland rainforests
have been lost. Within the ecoregion about 28% of plants and 84% of
land birds are endemic.
Main article: Economy of Samoa
Central Bank of Samoa
Taro, a root crop, traditionally was Samoa's largest export,
generating more than half of all export revenue in 1993. A fungal
blight decimated the plants, and in each year since 1994 taro exports
have accounted for less than 1% of export revenue.
United Nations has classified
Samoa as an economically developing
country since 2014. In 2017, Samoa's gross domestic product in
purchasing power parity was estimated to be $1.13 billion U.S.
dollars, ranking 204th among all countries. The services sector
accounted for 66% of GDP, followed by industry and agriculture at
23.6% and 10.4%, respectively. The same year, the Samoan labour
force was estimated at 50,700.
The country's currency is the Samoan tālā, issued and regulated by
the Central Bank of Samoa. The economy of
Samoa has traditionally
been dependent on agriculture and fishing at the local level. In
modern times, development aid, private family remittances from
overseas, and agricultural exports have become key factors in the
Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labour force
and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil,
noni (juice of the nonu fruit, as it is known in Samoan), and
Outside of a large automotive wire harness factory (
which ended production in August 2017), the manufacturing sector
mainly processes agricultural products. Tourism is an expanding sector
which now accounts for 25% of GDP. Tourist arrivals have been
increasing over the years with more than 100,000 tourists visiting the
islands in 2005, up from 70,000 in 1996.
The Samoan government has called for deregulation of the financial
sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal
discipline. Observers point to the flexibility of the
labour market as a basic strength for future economic
advances. The sector has been helped enormously by
major capital investment in hotel infrastructure, political
instability in neighbouring Pacific countries, and the 2005 launch of
Virgin Samoa a joint-venture between the government and Virgin
Australia (then Virgin Blue).
In the period before German colonisation,
Samoa produced mostly copra.
German merchants and settlers were active in introducing large scale
plantation operations and developing new industries, notably cocoa
bean and rubber, relying on imported labourers from
Melanesia. When the value of natural rubber fell drastically, about
the end of the Great War (World War I), the
New Zealand government
encouraged the production of bananas, for which there is a large
market in New Zealand.
Because of variations in altitude, a large range of tropical and
subtropical crops can be cultivated, but land is not generally
available to outside interests. Of the total land area of
2,934 km² (725,000 acres), about 24.4% is in permanent crops and
another 21.2% is arable. About 4.4% is Western Samoan Trust Estates
Corporation (WSTEC).
The staple products of
Samoa are copra (dried coconut meat), cocoa
bean (for chocolate), and bananas. The annual production of both
bananas and copra has been in the range of 13,000 to 15,000 metric
tons (about 14,500 to 16,500 short tons). If the rhinoceros beetle in
Samoa were eradicated,
Samoa could produce in excess of 40,000 metric
tons (44,000 short tons) of copra. Samoan cocoa beans are of very high
quality and used in fine
New Zealand chocolates. Most are
Criollo-Forastero hybrids. Coffee grows well, but production has been
uneven. WSTEC is the biggest coffee producer. Rubber has been produced
Samoa for many years, but its export value has little impact on the
Other agricultural industries have been less successful. Sugarcane
production, originally established by Germans in the early 20th
century, could be successful. Old train tracks for transporting cane
can be seen at some plantations east of Apia. Pineapples grow well in
Samoa, but beyond local consumption have not been a major export.
A Samoan family.
Main article: Demographics of Samoa
Samoa reported a population of 194,320 in its 2016 census. About
three-quarters of the population live on the main island of Upolu.
92.6% of the population are Samoans, 7% Euronesians (people of mixed
European and Polynesian ancestry) and 0.4% are Europeans, per the CIA
World Factbook. Only the Māori of
New Zealand outnumber
Samoan (Gagana Fa'asāmoa) and English are the official languages.
Including second-language speakers, there are more speakers of Samoan
than English in Samoa.
Samoan Sign Language is also used by at
least some of the deaf population.
Further information: Religion in Samoa
Article 1 of the Samoan Constitution states that “
Samoa is a
Christian nation founded of God the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit”. Samoans' religious adherence includes the following:
Christian Congregational Church of Samoa
Christian Congregational Church of Samoa 31.8%, Roman Catholic 19.4%,
Methodist 15.2%, Assembly of God 13.7%, The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints 7.6%, Seventh-day Adventist 3.9%, Worship Centre
1.7%, other Christian 5.5%, other 0.7%, none 0.1%, unspecified 0.1%
(2011 estimate). The Head of State until 2007, His Highness
Malietoa Tanumafili II, was a Bahá'í.
Samoa hosts the seventh (of
nine current) Bahá'í Houses of Worship in the world; completed in
1984 and dedicated by the Head of State, it is located in Tiapapata,
8 km (5 mi) from Apia.
The Samoan government provides eight years of primary and secondary
education that is tuition-free and is compulsory through age 16.
Samoa's main post-secondary educational institution is the National
University of Samoa, established in 1984. The country is also home to
several branches of the multi-national University of the South Pacific
Oceania University of Medicine.
Samoa has proved to be effective as a 2012
stated that 99 percent of Samoan adults are literate.
Main article: Culture of Samoa
See also: Music of Samoa
A view of
Falefa Valley from Le Mafa Pass, east Upolu.
The fa'a Samoa, or traditional Samoan way, remains a strong force in
Samoan life and politics. Despite centuries of European influence,
Samoa maintains its historical customs, social and political systems,
and language. Cultural customs such as the
Samoa 'ava ceremony
Samoa 'ava ceremony are
significant and solemn rituals at important occasions including the
bestowal of matai chiefly titles. Items of great cultural value
include the finely woven 'ie toga.
Samoan mythology includes many gods with creation stories and figures
of legend such as
Tagaloa and the goddess of war Nafanua, the daughter
of Saveasi'uleo, ruler of the spirit realm Pulotu. Other legends
include the well known story of
Sina and the Eel
Sina and the Eel which explains the
origins of the first coconut tree.
Samoans are spiritual and religious, and have subtly adapted the
dominant religion of
Christianity to 'fit in' with fa'a
Samoa and vice
versa. Ancient beliefs continue to co-exist side-by-side with
Christianity, particularly in regard to the traditional customs and
rituals of fa'a Samoa. The
Samoan culture is centred around the
principle of vāfealoa'i, the relationships between people. These
relationships are based on respect, or fa'aaloalo. When Christianity
was introduced in Samoa, most Samoan people converted. Currently 98%
of the population identify themselves as Christian.
Samoans live a communal way of life, participating in activities
collectively. Examples of this are the traditional Samoan fale
(houses) which are open with no walls, using blinds made of coconut
palm fronds during the night or bad weather.
The Samoan siva dance has unique gentle movements of the body in time
to music and tells a story, although the Samoan male dances can be
more snappy. The sasa is also a traditional dance where rows of
dancers perform rapid synchronised movements in time to the rhythm of
wooden drums (pate) or rolled mats. Another dance performed by males
is called the fa'ataupati or the slap dance, creating rhythmic sounds
by slapping different parts of the body. This is believed to have been
derived from slapping insects on the body.
The form and construction of traditional architecture of
Samoa was a
specialised skill by Tufuga fai fale that was also linked to other
Immaculate Conception of Mary cathedral.
A Samoan fire dancer.
A fale on Manono Island
A Samoan woman with a traditional malu.
As with other Polynesian cultures (Hawaiian, Tahitian and Māori) with
significant and unique tattoos,
Samoans have two gender specific and
culturally significant tattoos. For males, it is called the
consists of intricate and geometrical patterns tattooed that cover
areas from the knees up towards the ribs. A male who possesses such a
tatau is called a soga'imiti. A Samoan girl or teine is given a malu,
which covers the area from just below her knees to her upper
Albert Wendt is a significant Samoan writer whose novels and stories
tell the Samoan experience. In 1989, his novel Flying Fox in a Freedom
Tree was made into a feature film in New Zealand, directed by Martyn
Sanderson. Another novel Sons for the Return Home had also been
made into a feature film in 1979, directed by Paul Maunder. The
late John Kneubuhl, born in American Samoa, was an accomplished
playwright and screenwriter and writer.
Sia Figiel won the 1997
Commonwealth Writers' Prize for fiction in the south-east Asia/South
Pacific region with her novel "Where We Once Belonged". Momoe Malietoa
Von Reiche is an internationally recognised poet and artist. Tusiata
Avia is a performance poet. Her first book of poetry Wild Dogs Under
My Skirt was published by Victoria University Press in 2004. Dan
Taulapapa McMullin is an artist and writer. Other Samoan poets and
writers include Sapa'u Ruperake Petaia,
Eti Sa'aga and Savea Sano
Malifa, the editor of the
In music, popular local bands include The Five Stars, Penina o Tiafau
and Punialava'a. The Yandall Sisters' cover of the song Sweet
Inspiration reached number one on the
New Zealand charts in 1974. King
Kapisi was the first hip hop artist to receive the prestigious New
Zealand APRA Silver Scroll Award in 1999 for his song Reverse
Resistance. The music video for Reverse Resistance was filmed in
Savai'i at his villages. Other successful Samoan hip hop artists
include rapper Scribe, Dei Hamo, Savage and
Tha Feelstyle whose music
video Suamalie was filmed in Samoa.
Lemi Ponifasio is a director and choreographer who is prominent
internationally with his dance Company MAU. Neil Ieremia's company
Black Grace has also received international acclaim with tours to
Europe and New York.
Hip hop has had a significant impact on Samoan
culture. According to Katerina Martina Teaiwa, PhD from the University
Hawaii at Manoa, "
Hip hop culture in particular is popular amongst
Samoan youth." As in many other countries, hip hop music is
popular. In addition, the integration of hip hop elements into Samoan
tradition also "testifies to the transferability of the dance forms
themselves," and to the "circuits through which people and all their
embodied knowledge travel." Dance both in its traditional form and
its more modern forms has remained a central cultural currency to
Samoans, especially youths.
The arts organisation Tautai is a collective of visual artists
including Fatu Feu'u, Johnny Penisula, Shigeyuki Kihara, Iosefa Leo,
Michel Tuffery, John Ioane and Lily Laita.
Sima Urale is an award-winning filmmaker. Urale's short film
O Tamaiti won the prestigious Best Short Film at the Venice Film
Festival in 1996. Her first feature film Apron Strings opened the 2008
NZ International Film Festival. The feature film Siones Wedding,
co-written by Oscar Kightley, was financially successful following
Auckland and Apia. The 2011 film The Orator was the first
ever fully Samoan film, shot in
Samoa in the
Samoan language with a
Samoan cast telling a uniquely Samoan story. Written and directed by
Tusi Tamasese, it received much critical acclaim and attention at film
festivals throughout the world.
In comedy, Laughing Samoans, the Naked
Samoans and Kila Kokonut Krew
have enjoyed sold-out tours.
Actor and director
Nathaniel Lees has featured in many theatre
productions and films including his role as Captain Mifune in The
Matrix trilogy. Published playwrights include Oscar Kightley, Victor
Makerita Urale and Niuean Samoan playwright Dianna
See also: Sport in Samoa
Samoa (blue) vs. South Africa in June 2007.
The main sports played in
Samoa are rugby union,
Samoan cricket and
Rugby union is the national football code of Samoa. In Samoan
villages, volleyball is also popular.
Rugby union is the national sport in
Samoa and the national team,
nicknamed the Manu Samoa, is consistently competitive against teams
from vastly more populous nations.
Samoa has competed at every Rugby
World Cup since 1991, and made the quarter finals in 1991, 1995 and
the second round of the 1999 World Cup. At the 2003 world cup,
Samoa came close to beating eventual world champions, England.
Samoa also played in the
Pacific Nations Cup
Pacific Nations Cup and the Pacific
Tri-Nations. The sport is governed by the
Samoa Rugby Football Union,
who are members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance, and thus, also
contribute to the international Pacific Islanders rugby union team.
At club level, there is the National Provincial Championship and
Pacific Rugby Cup. They also took home the cup at Wellington and the
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens in 2007—for which the Prime Minister of
Samoa, also Chairman of the national rugby union, Tuila’epa
Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, declared a national holiday. They were also
IRB World Sevens Series
IRB World Sevens Series Champions in 2010 capping a year of
achievement for the Samoans, following wins in the USA, Australia,
Hong Kong and Scotland Sevens tournaments.
Prominent Samoan players include
Pat Lam and Brian Lima. In addition,
Samoans have played for or are playing for New Zealand.
Rugby league is mostly played by
Samoans living in
New Zealand and
Samoa reached the quarter finals of the
2013 Rugby League World Cup, the team comprising players from the NRL
Super League plus domestic players. Many
Samoans and New
Zealanders or Australians of Samoan descent play in the Super League
and National Leagues in Britain, including Francis Meli, Ta'ane
Lavulavu of Workington Town, Maurie Fa'asavalu of St Helens and David
Fatialofa of Whitehaven and Setima Sa who signed with London Irish
rugby club. Other noteworthy players from NZ and
represented the Samoan National team. The 2011 domestic Samoan rugby
league competition contained 10 teams with plans to expand to 12 in
Samoans have been very visible in boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, and
sumo; some Samoan sumo wrestlers, most famously
Konishiki, have reached the highest rank of
Ozeki and yokozuna.
American football is occasionally played in Samoa, reflecting its wide
popularity in American Samoa, where the sport is played under high
school sanction. About 30 ethnic Samoans, many from American Samoa,
currently play in the National Football League. A 2002 article from
ESPN estimated that a Samoan male (either an American Samoan or a
Samoan living in the mainland United States) is 40 times more likely
to play in the NFL than a non-Samoan American.
2009 Samoa earthquake
2009 Samoa earthquake and tsunami
Archaeology of Samoa
Science and technology in Pacific Island countries
Military of Samoa
Outline of Samoa
Time in Samoa
Transport in Samoa
Visa policy of Samoa
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