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American Samoa Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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American Samoa Map

Introduction

Background

Settled as early as 1000 B.C., Samoa was not reached by European explorers until the 18th century. International rivalries in the latter half of the 19th century were settled by an 1899 treaty in which Germany and the US divided the Samoan archipelago. The US formally occupied its portion - a smaller group of eastern islands with the excellent harbor of Pago Pago - the following year.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

14 20 S, 170 00 W

Map references

Oceania

Area

total: 224 sq km

land: 224 sq km

water: 0 sq km

note: includes Rose Island and Swains Island

country comparison to the world: 215

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

116 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical marine, moderated by southeast trade winds; annual rainfall averages about 3 m; rainy season (November to April), dry season (May to October); little seasonal temperature variation

Terrain

five volcanic islands with rugged peaks and limited coastal plains, two coral atolls (Rose Island, Swains Island)

Elevation

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: Lata Mountain 964 m

Natural resources

pumice, pumicite

Land use

agricultural land: 24.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 15% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 9.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)

forest: 75.5% (2018 est.)

other: 0% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

cyclones common from December to March

volcanism: limited volcanic activity on the Ofu and Olosega Islands; neither has erupted since the 19th century

Environment - current issues

limited supply of drinking water; pollution; waste disposal; coastal and stream alteration; soil erosion

Geography - note

Pago Pago has one of the best natural deepwater harbors in the South Pacific Ocean, sheltered by shape from rough seas and protected by peripheral mountains from high winds; strategic location in the South Pacific Ocean

People and Society

Population

46,366 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 210

Nationality

noun: American Samoan(s) (US nationals)

adjective: American Samoan

Ethnic groups

Pacific Islander 92.6% (includes Samoan 88.9%, Tongan 2.9%, other .8%), Asian 3.6% (includes Filipino 2.2%, other 1.4%), mixed 2.7%, other 1.2% (2010 est.)

note: data represent population by ethnic origin or race

Languages

Samoan 88.6% (closely related to Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages), English 3.9%, Tongan 2.7%, other Pacific islander 3%, other 1.8% (2010 est.)

note: most people are bilingual

Religions

Christian 98.3%, other 1%, unaffiliated 0.7% (2010 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 27.76% (male 7,063/female 6,662)

15-24 years: 18.16% (male 4,521/female 4,458)

25-54 years: 37.49% (male 9,164/female 9,370)

55-64 years: 9.69% (male 2,341/female 2,447)

65 years and over: 6.9% (male 1,580/female 1,831) (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 27.2 years

male: 26.7 years

female: 27.7 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 149

Population growth rate

-2.1% (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 236

Birth rate

17.19 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 93

Death rate

6 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 157

Net migration rate

-32.18 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 231

Urbanization

urban population: 87.2% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 0.07% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

49,000 PAGO PAGO (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 10.25 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 12.39 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 8 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 139

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.06 years

male: 72.55 years

female: 77.72 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 126

Total fertility rate

2.28 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Drinking water source

improved: total: 100% of population

unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: total: 99% of population

unimproved: total: 1% of population (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: American Samoa

conventional short form: American Samoa

abbreviation: AS

etymology: the meaning of Samoa is disputed; some modern explanations are that the "sa" connotes  "sacred" and "moa" indicates "center," so the name can mean "Holy Center"; alternatively, some assertions state that it can mean "place of the sacred moa bird" of Polynesian mythology; the name, however, may go back to Proto-Polynesian (PPn) times (before 1000 B.C.); a plausible PPn reconstruction has the first syllable as "sa'a" meaning "tribe or people" and "moa" meaning "deep sea or ocean" to convey the meaning "people of the deep sea"

Dependency status

unincorporated unorganized territory of the US; administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior

Government type

republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches; unincorporated unorganized territory of the US with local self-government

Capital

name: Pago Pago

geographic coordinates: 14 16 S, 170 42 W

time difference: UTC-11 (6 hours behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

note: pronounced pahn-go pahn-go

Administrative divisions

none (territory of the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 3 districts and 2 islands* at the second order; Eastern, Manu'a, Rose Island*, Swains Island*, Western

Independence

none (territory of the US)

National holiday

Flag Day, 17 April (1900)

Constitution

history: adopted 17 October 1960; revised 1 July 1967

amendments: proposed by either house of the Legislative Assembly; passage requires three-fifths majority vote by the membership of each house, approval in a referendum, and approval by the US Secretary of the Interior; amended 1971, 1977, 1979

Legal system

mixed legal system of US common law and customary law

Citizenship

see United States
Note: in accordance with US Code Title 8, Section 1408, persons born in American Samoa are US nationals but not US citizens

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Joseph R. BIDEN Jr. (since 20 January 2021); Vice President Kamala D. HARRIS (since 20 January 2021)

head of government: Governor Lemanu Peleti MAUGA (since 3 January 2021)

cabinet: Cabinet consists of 12 department directors appointed by the governor with the consent of the Legislature or Fono

elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected on the same ballot by an Electoral College of 'electors' chosen from each state to serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as American Samoa, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican presidential primary elections; governor and lieutenant governor directly elected on the same ballot by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 3 November 2020 (next to be held in November 2024)

election results: Lemanu Peleti MAUGA elected governor in first round; percent of vote - Lemanu Peleti MAUGA (independent) 60.3%, Gaoteote Palaie TOFAU (independent) 21.9%, I'aulualo Fa'afetai TALIA (independent) 12.3%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Legislature or Fono consists of:
Senate (18 seats; members indirectly selected by regional governing councils to serve 4-year terms)
House of Representatives (21 seats; 20 members directly elected by simple majority vote and 1 decided by public meeting on Swains Island; members serve 2-year terms)

elections: 
Senate - last held on 8 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
House of Representatives - last held on 6 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2020)

election results: 
Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independent 18; composition - men 17, women 1, percent of women 9.5%
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 14, women 7, percent of women 33.3%; note - total percent of women in Legislature 20.5%

note: American Samoa elects 1 member by simple majority vote to serve a 2-year term as a delegate to the US House of Representatives; the delegate can vote when serving on a committee and when the House meets as the Committee of the Whole House, but not when legislation is submitted for a “full floor” House vote; election of delegate last held on 6 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2020)

Judicial branch

highest courts: High Court of American Samoa (consists of the chief justice, associate chief justice, and 6 Samoan associate judges and organized into trial, family, drug, and appellate divisions); note - American Samoa has no US federal courts

judge selection and term of office: chief justice and associate chief justice appointed by the US Secretary of the Interior to serve for life; Samoan associate judges appointed by the governor to serve for life

subordinate courts: district and village courts

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Party [Fagafaga Daniel LANGKILDE, chairman]
Republican Party [William SWORD, chairman]

International organization participation

AOSIS (observer), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, PIF (observer), SPC

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (territory of the US)

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none (territory of the US)

Flag description

blue, with a white triangle edged in red that is based on the fly side and extends to the hoist side; a brown and white American bald eagle flying toward the hoist side is carrying 2 traditional Samoan symbols of authority, a war club known as a "fa'alaufa'i" (upper; left talon), and a coconut-fiber fly whisk known as a "fue" (lower; right talon); the combination of symbols broadly mimics that seen on the US Great Seal and reflects the relationship between the US and American Samoa

National symbol(s)

a fue (coconut fiber fly whisk; representing wisdom) crossed with a to'oto'o (staff; representing authority); national colors: red, white, blue

National anthem

name: "Amerika Samoa" (American Samoa)

lyrics/music: Mariota Tiumalu TUIASOSOPO/Napoleon Andrew TUITELELEAPAGA

note: local anthem adopted 1950; as a territory of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)

Economy

Economic overview

American Samoa s a traditional Polynesian economy in which more than 90% of the land is communally owned. Economic activity is strongly linked to the US with which American Samoa conducts most of its commerce. Tuna fishing and processing are the backbone of the private sector with processed fish products as the primary exports. The fish processing business accounted for 15.5% of employment in 2015.

In late September 2009, an earthquake and the resulting tsunami devastated American Samoa and nearby Samoa, disrupting transportation and power generation, and resulting in about 200 deaths. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency oversaw a relief program of nearly $25 million. Transfers from the US Government add substantially to American Samoa's economic well-being.

Attempts by the government to develop a larger and broader economy are restrained by Samoa's remote location, its limited transportation, and its devastating hurricanes. Tourism has some potential as a source of income and jobs.

Agricultural products

bananas, coconuts, vegetables, taro, breadfruit, yams, copra, pineapples, papayas; dairy products, livestock

Industries

tuna canneries (largely supplied by foreign fishing vessels), handicrafts

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 8,984

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17.92 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 190

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: good telex, telegraph, facsimile, and cellular telephone services; one of the most complete and modern telecommunications systems in the South Pacific Islands; all inhabited islands have telephone connectivity

domestic: 18 per 100 fixed-line teledensity, domestic satellite system with 1 Comsat earth station (2019)

international: country code - 1-684; landing points for the ASH, Southern Cross NEXT and Hawaiki  providing connectivity to New Zealand, Australia, American Samoa, Hawaii, California, and SAS connecting American Samoa with Samoa; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat-Pacific Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

3 TV stations; multi-channel pay TV services are available; about a dozen radio stations, some of which are repeater stations

Internet country code

.as

Internet users

total: 17,000

percent of population: 31.3% (July 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 210

Transportation

Airports

total: 3 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 191

Airports - with paved runways

total: 3 (2019)

over 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 1

Roadways

total: 241 km (2016)

country comparison to the world: 205

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Pago Pago

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Tokelau included American Samoa's Swains Island (Olosega) in its 2006 draft independence constitution

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