Nation at a Glance - Samoa

History

New Zealand occupied the German protectorate of Western Samoa at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. It continued to administer the islands as a mandate and then as a trust territory until 1962, when the islands became the first Polynesian nation to reestablish independence in the 20th century. The country dropped the "Western" from its name in 1997.

Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand

Border Countries: 0 km

Total Area: 2,831 sq km Land: 2,821 sq km Water: 10 sq km

Climate: Tropical; rainy season (November to April), dry season (May to October)

Terrain: Two main islands (Savaii, Upolu) and several smaller islands and uninhabited islets; narrow coastal plain with volcanic, rugged mountains in interior

Natural resources: Hardwood forests, fish, hydropower

Land use: Agricultural land: 12.4% arable land 2.8%; permanent crops 7.8%; permanent pasture 1.8% Forest: 60.4% Other: 27.2% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Samoan 92.6%, Euronesians (persons of European and Polynesian blood) 7%, Europeans 0.4% (2001 census)

Languages: Samoan (Polynesian) (official), English

Religions: Protestant 57.4% (Congregationalist 31.8%, Methodist 13.7%, Assembly of God 8%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.9%), Roman Catholic 19.4%, Mormon 15.2%, Worship Centre 1.7%, other Christian 5.5%, Other 0.7%, None 0.1%, Unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)

Population: 198,926

Literacy: 99%; Male: 99.1%; Female: 98.8% (2015 est.)

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

Economy: The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, family remittances from overseas, tourism, agriculture, and fishing. It has a nominal GDP of $780 million. Agriculture, including fishing, employs roughly two-thirds of the labor force and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring fish, coconut oil, nonu products, and taro. The manufacturing sector mainly processes agricultural products. One factory in the Foreign Trade Zone employs 1,000 people to make automobile electrical harnesses for an assembly plant in Australia, and accounts for 65% of total exports. Industry accounts for nearly 15% of GDP while employing less than 6% of the work force. The service sector accounts for nearly three-quarters of GDP and employs approximately 50% of the labor force. Tourism is an expanding sector accounting for 25% of GDP; 132,000 tourists visited the islands in 2013.The country is vulnerable to devastating storms. In September 2009, an earthquake and the resulting tsunami severely damaged Samoa and nearby American Samoa, disrupting transportation and power generation, and resulting in about 200 deaths. In December 2012, extensive flooding and wind damage from Tropical Cyclone Evan killed four people, displaced over 6,000, and damaged or destroyed an estimated 1,500 homes on Samoa's Upolu Island.The Samoan Government has called for deregulation of the country's financial sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal discipline, while at the same time protecting the environment. Foreign reserves are relatively healthy and inflation is low, but external debt is approximately 55% of GDP. Samoa became the 155th member of the WTO in May 2012, and graduated from least developed country (LDC) status in January 2014.

Agriculture - products: Coconuts, nonu, bananas, taro, yams, coffee, cocoa

Industries: Food processing, building materials, auto parts

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