Samoa [Country Flag of Samoa]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Samoa]



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Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand

Geographic coordinates: 13 35 S, 172 20 W

Map references: Oceania

total: 2,860 sq km
land: 2,850 sq km
water: 10 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than Rhode Island

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 403 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; rainy season (October to March), dry season (May to October)

Terrain: narrow coastal plain with volcanic, rocky, rugged mountains in interior

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mauga Silisili 1,857 m

Natural resources: hardwood forests, fish

Land use:
arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 24%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 47%
other: 10%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: occasional typhoons; active volcanism

Environment—current issues: soil erosion

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol


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Population: 224,713 (July 1998 est.)
note: other estimates range as low as 162,000

Age structure:
0-14 years: 39% (male 44,991; female 43,537)
15-64 years: 57% (male 66,201; female 60,764)
65 years and over: 4% (male 4,352; female 4,868) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.33% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 29.62 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.51 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 31.76 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.45 years
male: 67.07 years
female: 71.96 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.72 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Samoan(s)
adjective: Samoan

Ethnic groups: Samoan 92.6%, Euronesians 7% (persons of European and Polynesian blood), Europeans 0.4%

Religions: Christian 99.7% (about one-half of population associated with the London Missionary Society; includes Congregational, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Latter-Day Saints, Seventh-Day Adventist)

Languages: Samoan (Polynesian), English

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 97% (1971 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Independent State of Samoa
conventional short form: Samoa

Data code: WS

Government type: constitutional monarchy under native chief

National capital: Apia

Administrative divisions: 11 districts; A'ana, Aiga-i-le-Tai, Atua, Fa'asaleleaga, Gaga'emauga, Gagaifomauga, Palauli, Satupa'itea, Tuamasaga, Va'a-o-Fonoti, Vaisigano

Independence: 1 January 1962 (from New Zealand-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday: National Day, 1 June (1962)

Constitution: 1 January 1962

Legal system: based on English common law and local customs; judicial review of legislative acts with respect to fundamental rights of the citizen; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Chief Susuga MALIETOA Tanumafili II (cochief of state from 1 January 1962 until becoming sole chief of state 5 April 1963)
head of government: Prime Minister TOFILAU Eti Alesana (since 7 April 1988); Deputy Prime Minister TUILA'EPA Sailele Malielegaoi (since NA 1992)
cabinet: Cabinet consists of 12 members, appointed by the chief of state with the prime minister's advice
elections: upon the death of Chief Susuga MALIETOA Tanumafili II, a new chief of state will be elected by the Legislative Assembly to serve a five-year term; prime minister appointed by the chief of state with the approval of the Legislative Assembly

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fono (49 seats—47 elected by Samoans, 2 elected by non-Samoans; only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the Fono; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 26 April 1996 (next to be held 26 April 2001)
election results: percent of vote by party—HRPP 45.17%, SNDP 27.1%, independents 23.7%; seats by party—HRPP 25, SNDP 13, independents 11

Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders: Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP), TOFILAU Eti Alesana, chairman; Samoan National Development Party (SNDP), TAPUA Tamasese Efi, chairman (opposition); Samoan Progressive Conservative Party, LEOTA Ituau Ale; Samoa All People's Party (SAPP), Matatumua MAIMOAGA

International organization participation: ACP, AsDB, C, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ITU, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Tuiloma Neroni SLADE
chancery: 820 Second Avenue, Suite 800D, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 599-6196, 6197
FAX: [1] (212) 599-0797

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Josiah Horton BEEMAN (Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, resides in Wellington, New Zealand)
embassy: 5th floor, Beach Road, Apia
mailing address: P.O. Box 3430, Apia
telephone: [685] 21631
FAX: [685] 22030

Flag description: red with a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side quadrant bearing five white five-pointed stars representing the Southern Cross constellation


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Economy—overview: The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, private family remittances from overseas, and agricultural exports. The country is vulnerable to devastating storms. Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labor force, and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil, and copra. Outside of a large automotive wire harness factory, the manufacturing sector mainly processes agricultural products. Tourism is an expanding sector; more than 70,0000 tourists visited the islands in 1996. The 1998 Samoan budget calls for deregulation of the financial sector, development of more financial investments, and forecasts 3% to 4% growth.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$450 million (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 5.9% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$2,100 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 40%
industry: 25%
services: 35% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 7.5% (1996)

Labor force:
total: 82,500 (1991 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 65%, services 30%, industry 5% (1995 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $52 million
expenditures: $99 million, including capital expenditures of $37 million (FY96/97 est.)

Industries: timber, tourism, food processing, fishing

Industrial production growth rate: 14% (1996 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 21,700 kW (1996 est.)

Electricity—production: 56.3 million kWh (1996 est.)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 310 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: coconuts, bananas, taro, yams

total value: $10 million (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: coconut oil and cream, copra, fish, beer (1996)
partners: New Zealand 48%, American Samoa 11%, Australia 10%, Germany 7%, US 3% (1996)

total value: $100 million (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: intermediate goods 50%, food 26%, capital goods 12% (1996)
partners: New Zealand 37%, Australia 22%, Fiji 15%, US 13%

Debt—external: $169.4 million (1996 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA; $8.7 million bilateral aid from Australia (FY96/97 est.); $5 million bilateral aid from NZ (FY95/96)

Currency: 1 tala (WS$) = 100 sene

Exchange rates: tala (WS$) per US$1—2.7556 (January 1998), 2.5562 (1997), 2.4618 (1996), 2.4722 (1995), 2.5349 (1994), 2.5681 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 7,500 (1988 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0

Radios: 76,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 0

Televisions: 6,000 (1992 est.)


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Railways: 0 km

total: 790 km
paved: 332 km
unpaved: 458 km (1996 est.)

Ports and harbors: Apia, Asau, Mulifanua, Salelologa

Merchant marine:
total: 1 roll-on/roll-off cargo ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,838 GRT/5,536 DWT (1997 est.)

Airports: 3 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 2
under 914 m: 2 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: no regular armed services; Samoa Police Force

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: none