Country profile: Samoa
The Independent State of
Samoa, known as Western Samoa until 1997, is made up of nine volcanic
islands, two of which - Savai'i and Upolu - make up more than 99% of
It was governed by New Zealand until its people voted for independence in 1961.
Samoa has the world's second-largest Polynesian group, after the
Maori. Its deeply conservative and devoutly Christian society centres
around the extended family, which is headed by an elected chief who
directs the family's social, economic and political affairs, and the
church, which is a focus of recreational and social life. Many Samoan
villages hold up to 20 minutes of prayer curfews in the evenings.
The economy revolves around fishing and agriculture, which is vulnerable to cyclones and disease.
at diversification have met with success. Tourism is growing, thanks to
the islands' scenic attractions and fine beaches. Offshore banking
spearheads an expanding services sector. Light manufacturing is
expanding and has attracted foreign investment.
many younger Samoans are leaving for New Zealand, the US and American
Samoa. Money sent home by Samoans living abroad can be a key source of
- Full name: The Independent State of Samoa
- Population: 179,000 (UN, 2009)
- Capital: Apia
- Area: 2,831 sq km (1,093 sq miles)
- Major languages: Samoan, English
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 75 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 tala = 100 sene
- Main exports: Coconut oil and cream, copra, fish, beer
- GNI per capita: US $2,780 (World Bank, 2008)
- Internet domain: .ws
- International dialling code: +685
Head of state: Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi
prime minister Tupua was elected head of state by parliament for a
five-year term in 2007 on the death of Malietoa Tanumafili II, who had
been in office since independence.
Born in 1938, he is an academic historian and a member of one of the leading extended families of the country.
entered parliament as a Christian Democrat MP in 1966, and served as
prime minister in 1976-82 and deputy prime minister in 1985-88.
Prime minister: Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi
Minister Tuila'epa's ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) gained
a landslide victory in parliamentary polls in April 2006, heralding a
third term for the premier.
Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi, in office since 1998
The HRPP claimed 30 seats in the Fono - Samoa's 49-seat assembly.
Tuila'epa became prime minister in 1998 when his predecessor, Tofilau
Eti Alesana, resigned on health grounds after 16 years in the job. He
won a second term in 2001.
Born in 1945 and an economist by
training, Mr Tuila'epa was educated in Samoa and New Zealand, where he
gained a master's degree - the first Samoan to do so.
he moved to Brussels to work for the European Economic Community. He
entered the Fono two years later, while simultaneously working as a
partner in the accounting firm Coopers and Lybrand.
All but two
of the seats in the Fono are reserved for ethnic Samoans and only the
heads of extended families, known as "matai", may stand for election to
them. The Fono selects the prime minister.
Samoa enjoys a "generally free" press, according to the US-based media monitor Freedom House.
officials have sued the main privately-owned newspaper, the Samoa
Observer, for reporting on alleged corruption and abuse of public
office. The authorities have also withdrawn government advertising from
The government and private operators run TV stations and channels from American Samoa are readily available.
- Samoa Observer - private daily
- Samoa Times - daily
- Le Samoa - weekly, in Samoan and English languages
- Savali - fortnightly, in Samoan and English languages
- Talamua Magazine - monthly, in Samoan and English languages
- Samoa Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) - state-run, commercial
- TV3 - private
- Vaiala Beach Television (VBTV) - private
- Magik FM - popular music
- K-Lite FM - easy listening music
- Talofa FM - Samoan language and music
- Samoa Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) - state-run, commercial, operates mediumwave (AM) and FM stations