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You are in:  Nations > Oceania > Samoa
Samoa*Samoa flag
Basic facts
The country 
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Capital: Apia
Area: 2,831 sq km; 1,093 sq miles
Population: 235,302 (2000 Estimate)
Urbanisation: Urban 21 per cent (1998 Estimate); Rural 79 per cent (1998 Estimate)


Exports: Coconut, taro, copra, cocoa, bananas, yams, beer, cigarettes

Industry: Timber, tourism, food processing, fishing, tobacco products, soap, paint, tourism

Agriculture: Coconuts, fruit (including bananas, taro, yams)

Currency: 1 tala (WS$), consisting of 100 sene

Natural resources: Hardwood forests, fish, warm climate


The people

Ethnic: Samoan (Polynesian) 92.6 per cent, Euronesian (mixed European and Polynesian), European, Asian 7.4 per cent, European 0.4 per cent

Language: Samoan, a language related to Tongan and other Polynesian languages, is the official language of Samoa, but many people also speak English.

Religion: Christian (mostly Protestant) 99.7 per cent, other 0.3 per cent. Almost all Samoans are Christian. About half of them belong to the Christian Congregationalist Church. Other prominent churches include the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and Seventh-day Adventist. In general Christianity plays an important role in the lives of most Samoans, many of whom hold evening prayer services in their homes.


The history

Independence: 1 January 1962 (from United Nations trusteeship administered by New Zealand)

Government: In Samoa there is a constitutional monarch - currently His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II - who is head of state and has the power to dissolve the 'Fono' (49-member legislature). Actual executive power is vested in the head of Government, a Prime Minister who is selected by the Fono from among its members. The members of the legislative assembly are elected for five-year terms; 47 members must have titles of 'matai' (head of an extended family or kinship group) and two members are from the non-Samoan community. All citizens aged 21 and over are eligible to vote. The head of state, largely a ceremonial title, is currently a member of one of Samoa's paramount chieftan families. He holds this title for life, but when he dies the legislative assembly will elect the new head of state to a five-year term.

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