American Samoa

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American Samoa,

officially Territory of American Samoa, unincorporated territory of the United States (2015 est. pop. 56,000), comprising the eastern half of the SamoaSamoa,
chain of volcanic islands in the South Pacific, comprising the independent nation of Samoa (formerly Western Samoa), and E of long. 171° W, the islands of American Samoa, under U.S. control. The Samoan islands extend c.350 mi (560 km), with a total land area of c.
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 island chain in the South Pacific. The group (76 sq mi/197 sq km) consists of several major islands: TutuilaTutuila
, island (2010 pop. 54,359), 52 sq mi (135 sq km), largest island of American Samoa. The capital and principal harbor is Pago Pago. The island has a rugged eastern area, with a plain in the southwest.
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, the Manu'aManu'a
, island group and district (2010 pop. 1,143) of American Samoa comprising Ta'u, Ofu, and Olosega islands, with a total area of 22 sq mi (57 sq km). According to Samoan tradition, the Manu'a group is the cradle of the race. The main settlement is Luma, on Ta'u Island.
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 group (Ta'u, Ofu, and Olosega), Rose and Sand Islands, and Swains IslandSwains Island,
island, 1 sq mi (2.59 sq km), district of American Samoa, c.200 mi (320 km) N of Tutuila. It is a ring of sand and coral with luxuriant vegetation. Swains Island has been privately owned by the same family for more than 100 years.
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. Pago PagoPago Pago
, town (1990 pop. 10,640) and capital of American Samoa, on the Southern shore of Tutuila island. Pago Pago has an excellent, landlocked harbor and is the only port of call in American Samoa. Tourism and tuna canning are important industries.
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, the capital, is on Tutuila. Most of the islands are mountainous, heavily wooded, and surrounded by coral reefs.

Polynesians account for a large majority of the population. Christian Congregationalism and other Protestant denominations are practiced by 80% of the people; some 20% are Roman Catholic. Most Samoans are bilingual, speaking the native Polynesian tongue and English.

Subsistence agriculture and the export of canned tuna and handicrafts became the mainstays of the economy after the U.S. naval base at Pago Pago closed in 1951. There is also some light industry. Economic activity is strongly linked to the United States; Australia, Indonesia, and India are also important trading partners. Nearly all the land is communally owned by the Polynesian natives.

The territorial government is headed by a popularly elected governor. There is a bicameral legislature (Fono), consisting of a senate (18 members chosen by local chiefs) and a house of representatives (20 members elected by popular vote, plus one nonvoting member from Swains Island, which is privately owned). There is also an independent judiciary. The inhabitant are considered American nationals, not citizens, and do not vote in U.S. elections, but they do send one nonvoting delegate to the U.S. Congress.

American Samoa was defined by a treaty in 1899 between the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, which gave the United States control of all Samoan islands east of 171°W. American Samoa was under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Dept. of the Navy until 1951, at which time administration was transferred to the Dept. of the Interior, which appointed the governor. In 1978 the first popularly elected Samoan governor was inaugurated; the governor is elected on a nonpartisan basis. Tauese P. F. Sunia, first elected in 1996, died in 2003; Lt. Gov. Togiola Tulafona succeeded him as acting governor, and was himself elected governor in 2004 and 2008. In Sept., 2009, a tsunami caused signifcant coastal destruction in parts of American Samoa. Lolo Matalasi Moliga was elected governor in 2012 and reelected in 2016; his lieutenant governor, Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga, was elected to succeed him in 2020.

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Parks Directory of the United States, 5th Edition. © 2007 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

American Samoa


(Eastern Samoa), a country in the eastern part of the Samoan archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. American Samoa includes Tutuila, the largest island (137 sq km), the Manua Islands, Aunuu, Rose Atoll, and Swains Island, a member of the Tokelau group, that is administered as part of American Samoa. A US possession, American Samoa has an area of 197 sq km. In 1974 the population was 30,000. The administrative center is Pago Pago on Tutuila, and the country is divided into three districts.

Except for a small coastal plain in the south, mountains occupy almost the entire island of Tutuila, which has a maximum elevation of 652 m. Along the island’s eastern coast is one of the best bays in the Pacific, Pago Pago. The country has a tropical trade-wind climate, with mean monthly temperatures of 25°–27°C. Precipitation ranges from 80 mm to 450 mm a year. More than half of the total is occupied by forests of predominantly treelike ferns. Animal life is represented by a few species of mammals (rats, bats). The sea abounds in sharks, tuna, bonito, mackerel, and swordfish, as well as mollusks; palolo is especially prized.

Samoans, including mestizos, constitute the bulk of the population. There are also small groups of Americans and peoples from other islands of Oceania. Most of the population is Christian, primarily Protestant. The official language is English.

Between 1963 and 1972 the population grew at an average rate of 3.9 percent a year. The economically active population totals 9,600 persons, or roughly 35 percent of the population in 1970. Of these, more than 34 percent are clerical and manual workers for the American administration, 11 percent are employed at fish canning factories, and the remainder are engaged in agriculture, providing services, and trade.

The chief economic sectors are fish canning and copra production. Most of the agricultural land belongs to Samoans. Two-fifths of the country’s area is farmed, and the main export crop is coconuts. Some 4,500 tons of coconuts and 300 tons of copra were exported in 1972. Among crops raised for local consumption are bananas, taro, yams, and sugarcane. In 1972, about 1,000 hectares were planted to bananas, yielding a harvest of 2,000 tons. Hogs and chickens are also raised. Industry is represented by American-owned fish canneries and factories manufacturing cans. Canned fish and shrimp, as well as other fish products, constitute 99 percent of the value of exports. American Samoa imports canned goods from the USA and taro and bananas from Western Samoa. Some 14,000 tourists visited the country in 1969, bringing $1.6 million to the islands. The monetary unit is the US dollar.

As a result of rivalry between Germany, Great Britain, and the USA for possession of the Samoan Islands in the second half of the 19th century, the archipelago was divided and the territory east of 171 °W long. came under US influence. In 1899 eastern Samoa was declared a US possession. American Samoa was administered by the US Department of the Navy until 1951, when it was turned over to the US Department of the Interior. The population of American Samoa has persistently struggled for broader political rights. The most significant development was the Mau, or opinion, movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s. In 1948 the American administration was obliged to establish a bicameral advisory legislature under the governor. A constitutional act adopted in 1960 slightly expanded the rights of the population. In 1968 the first political parties were formed, and in 1969 a commission was set up to work out the fundamental principles of the future political status of American Samoa.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

American Samoa

American Samoa has been a U.S. territory since 1899; its inhabi­tants are considered U.S. nationals.

Capital: Pago Pago Motto: Samoa—Muamua le Atua (Samoan “Samoa—Let God

Be First”)
Flower: Paogo (ulafala)
Plant: Ava (kava)
Song: “Amerika Samoa”
Tree: Paogo or pandanus


Government web site:

Office of the Governor
Executive Office Bldg
Third Floor, Utulei
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799
fax: 011-684-633-2269

Department of Local Government
fax: 011-684-633-5590

Feleti Barstow Public Library
997687 Utulei Way
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799
fax: 011-684-633-5816

Legal Holidays:

American Samoa Flag DayApr 17
Manu'a DayJul 17
New Year's EveDec 31
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

American Samoa

the part of Samoa administered by the US Capital: Pago Pago. Pop.: 67 000 (2003 est.). Area: 197 sq. km (76 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005