Western Samoa

See regional map X


Total area: 2,860 km²; land area: 2,850 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Rhode Island

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 403 km

Maritime claims:

Extended 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

Natural resources: hardwood forests, fish

Land use: 19% arable land; 24% permanent crops; NEGL% meadows and pastures; 47% forest and woodland; 10% other

Environment: subject to occasional typhoons; active volcanism

Note: located 4,300 km southwest of Honolulu in the South Pacific Ocean about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand


Population: 186,031 (July 1990), growth rate 2.3% (1990)

Birth rate: 34 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 7 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -5 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 48 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 64 years male, 69 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 4.6 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Western Samoan(s); adjective—Western Samoan

Ethnic divisions: Samoan; about 7% Euronesians (persons of European and Polynesian blood), 0.4% Europeans

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

Language: Samoan (Polynesian), English

Literacy: 90%

Labor force: 37,000; 22,000 employed in agriculture (1983 est.)

Organized labor: Public Service Association (PSA)


Long-form name: Independent State of Western Samoa

Type: constitutional monarchy under native chief

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 UN trusteeship administered by New Zealand)

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

National holiday: National Day, 1 June

Executive branch: monarch, Executive Council, prime minister, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly (Fono)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, Court of Appeal

Leaders: Chief of State—Susuga Malietoa TANUMAFILI II (Co-Chief of State from 1 January 1962 until becoming sole Chief of State on 5 April 1963);

Head of Government—Prime Minister TOFILAU Eti Alesana (since 7 April 1988)

Political parties and leaders: Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP), Tofilau Eti, chairman; Samoan National Development Party (SNDP), Tupua Tamasese Efi, chairman

Suffrage: there are two electoral rolls—the matai (head of family) roll and the individuals roll; about 12,000 persons are on the matai roll, hold matai titles, and elect 45 members of the Legislative Assembly; about 1,600 persons are on the individuals roll, lack traditional matai ties, and elect two members of the Legislative Assembly by universal adult suffrage at the age of NA

Elections: Legislative Assembly—last held 26 February 1988 (next to be held by February 1991); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(47 total) HRPP 25, SNDP 22

Member of: ACP, ADB, Commonwealth, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IMF, SPC, SPF, UN, UNESCO, WHO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Fili (Felix) Tuaopepe WENDT; Chancery (temporary) at the Western Samoan Mission to the UN, 820 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (212) 599-6196; US—the ambassador to New Zealand is accredited to Western Samoa

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


Overview: Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labor force, contributes 50% to GDP, and is the source of 90% of exports. The bulk of export earnings comes from the sale of coconut oil and copra. The economy depends on emigrant remittances and foreign aid to support a level of imports about five times export earnings. Tourism has become the most important growth industry, and construction of the first international hotel is under way.

GDP: $112 million, per capita $615; real growth rate 0.2% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.5% (1988)

Unemployment rate: NA%; shortage of skilled labor

Budget: revenues $54 million; expenditures $54 million, including capital expenditures of $28 million (1988)

Exports: $9.9 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—coconut oil and cream 42%, taro 19%, cocoa 14%, copra, timber; partners—NZ 30%, EC 24%, Australia 21%, American Samoa 7%, US 9% (1987)

Imports: $51.8 million (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—intermediate goods 58%, food 17%, capital goods 12%; partners—New Zealand 31%, Australia 20%. Japan 15%, Fiji 15%, US 5%, EC 4% (1987)

External debt: $75 million (December 1988 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 4.0% (1987)

Electricity: 23,000 kW capacity; 35 million kWh produced, 190 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: timber, tourism, food processing, fishing

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

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $16 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $261 million; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $4 million

Currency: tala (plural—tala); 1 tala (WS$) = 100 sene

Exchange rates: tala (WS$) per US$1—2.2857 (January 1990), 2.2686 (1989), 2.0790 (1988), 2.1204 (1987), 2.2351 (1986), 2.2437 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 2,042 km total; 375 km sealed; remainder mostly gravel, crushed stone, or earth

Ports: Apia

Merchant marine: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 24,930 GRT/34,135 DWT; includes 2 container, 1 roll-on/roll-off cargo

Civil air: 3 major transport aircraft

Airports: 4 total, 4 usable; 1 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; none with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: 7,500 telephones; 70,000 radio receivers; stations—1 AM, no FM, no TV; 1 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT station

Defense Forces

Branches: NA

Military manpower: NA

Defense expenditures: NA