About Samoa

General Information

Samoa is a country comprising the westernmost group of the Samoan Islands, in Polynesia. Many of its islands have reef-bordered beaches and rugged, rain forested interiors with gorges and waterfalls. The islands include Upolu, home to most of Samoa’s population, and Savai’i, one of the largest islands in the South Pacific. Smaller islands may have small villages or be uninhabited, some with wildlife sanctuaries.

Population

Samoa reported a population of 194,320 in its 2016 census. About three-quarters of the population live on the main island of Upolu.

Political Structure

Politics of Samoa takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic state whereby the Prime Minister of Samoa is the head of government. Existing alongside the country’s Western styled political system is the fa’amatai chiefly system of socio-political governance and organization, central to understanding Samoa’s political system.

From the country’s independence in 1962, only matai could vote and stand as candidates in elections to parliament. In 1990, the voting system was changed by the Electoral Amendment Act which introduced universal suffrage.

Infrastructure and Economy

The economy of Samoa is dependent on agricultural exports, development aid and private remittances from overseas. The country is vulnerable to devastating storms. Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labor force, and furnishes 9% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil and copra. Outside of a large automotive wire harness factory, the sector mainly processes agricultural products. Tourism is an expanding sector; more than 70,000 tourists visited the islands in 1996 and 120,000 in 2014. The Samoan Government has called for deregulation of the financial sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal discipline. Observers point to the flexibility of the labor market as a basic strength factor for future economic advances.

Languages

Samoan, a Polynesian language, is the first language.

Currency

The Samoan Tala is the currency of Samoa.