American Samoa

American Samoa

American Samoa
Amerika Sāmoa / Sāmoa Amelika
Flag Seal
Motto: "Samoa, Muamua Le Atua" (Samoan)
"Samoa, Let God Be First"
Amerika Samoa
"The Star-Spangled Banner"
Capital Pago Pago
Largest city Tafuna
Official languages
Demonym American Samoan
Government United States unincorporated territory with complete Non-partisan democracy
 -  Head of State Barack Obama (D)
 -  Governor Lolo Letalu Matalasi Moliga (I)
 -  Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga (I)
Legislature Fono
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house House of Representatives
United States unincorporated territory
 -  Tripartite Convention December 2, 1899 
 -  Deed of Cession of Tutuila
April 17, 1900 
 -  Deed of Cession of Manu'a
July 16, 1904 
 -  Annexation of Swains Island
March 4, 1925 
 -  Total 199[1] km2 (212th)
76.80 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0
 -  2010 census 55,519 (208th)
 -  Density 326/km2 (38th)
914/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2007 estimate
 -  Total $537 million
 -  Per capita $8,000
Currency United States dollar (USD)
Time zone Samoa Standard Time (SST) (UTC-11)
Calling code +1 684
ISO 3166 code AS
Internet TLD .as
Samoa Islands
Coastline of American Samoa

American Samoa (; Samoan: Amerika Sāmoa, ; also Amelika Sāmoa or Sāmoa Amelika) is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Samoa.[2]

American Samoa consists of five main islands and two coral atolls. The largest and most populous island is Tutuila, with the Manuʻa Islands, Rose Atoll, and Swains Island also included in the territory. American Samoa is part of the Samoan Islands chain, located west of the Cook Islands, north of Tonga, and some 300 miles (500 km) south of Tokelau. To the west are the islands of the Wallis and Futuna group.

The 2010 census showed a total population of 55,519 people.[3] The total land area is 199 square kilometres (76.8 sq mi), slightly more than Washington, D.C. American Samoa is the southernmost territory of the U.S. and one of two U.S. territories (with Jarvis Island) south of the Equator. Tuna and tuna products are the main exports, and the main trading partner is the United States.


  • History 1
    • 18th century: First Western contact 1.1
    • 19th century 1.2
    • 20th century 1.3
      • Protectorate of the United States of America 1.3.1
      • Early 20th century and World War I 1.3.2
      • Interwar period 1.3.3
        • Pan American and first trans-South Pacific flight
      • World War II and aftermath 1.3.4
      • From 1951 to 1999 1.3.5
    • 21st century 1.4
    • Notable events 1.5
      • September 2009 earthquake and tsunami 1.5.1
    • Notable people and residents 1.6
  • Government and politics 2
    • Government 2.1
    • Politics 2.2
      • Nationality 2.2.1
      • Official protest to naming of neighboring Samoa 2.2.2
    • Administrative divisions 2.3
  • Geography 3
    • Vailulu'u Seamount 3.1
  • Economy 4
  • Taxation 5
  • Transportation 6
  • Demographics 7
    • Ethnicity and language 7.1
    • Religion 7.2
    • Education 7.3
  • Culture 8
    • Sports 8.1
      • American football 8.1.1
      • Rugby league 8.1.2
      • Professional wrestling 8.1.3
      • Sumo wrestling 8.1.4
      • Association football 8.1.5
      • Rugby union 8.1.6
      • Track and field 8.1.7
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Bibliography 11
  • External links 12


18th century: First Western contact

1896 map of the Samoa Islands.

Contact with Europeans began in the early 18th century. Jacob Roggeveen (1659–1729), a Dutchman, was the first known European to sight the Samoan islands in 1722. This visit was followed by the French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1729–1811), who named them the Navigator Islands in 1768. Contact was limited before the 1830s which is when English missionaries and traders began arriving.

Early Western contact included a battle in the eighteenth century between French explorers and islanders in Tutuila, for which the Samoans were blamed in the West, giving them a reputation for ferocity. The site of this battle is called Massacre Bay.

19th century

Mission work in the Samoas had begun in late 1830 when John Williams of the London Missionary Society arrived from the Cook Islands and Tahiti.[4] By that time, the Samoans had gained a reputation for being savage and warlike, as violent altercations had occurred between natives and European visitors. Nevertheless, by the late nineteenth century, French, British, German, and American vessels routinely stopped at Samoa, as they valued Pago Pago Harbor as a refueling station for coal-fired shipping and whaling.

In March 1889, a German naval force invaded a village in Samoa, and by doing so destroyed some American property. Three American warships then entered the Apia harbor and prepared to engage three German warships found there.[5] Before guns were fired, a typhoon wrecked both the American and German ships. A compulsory armistice was called because of the lack of warships.[5]

20th century

German, British and American warships in Apia harbour, Samoa, 1899.

At the turn of the twentieth century, international rivalries in the latter half of the century were settled by the 1899 Tripartite Convention in which Germany and the United States partitioned the Samoan Islands into two parts:[6] the eastern island group became a territory of the United States (the Tutuila Islands in 1900 and officially Manu'a in 1904) and is today known as American Samoa; the western islands, by far the greater landmass, became known as German Samoa after Britain vacated all claims to Samoa and accepted termination of German rights in Tonga and certain areas in the Solomon Islands and West Africa.[7] Forerunners to the Tripartite Convention of 1899 were the Washington Conference of 1887, the Treaty of Berlin of 1889 and the Anglo-German Agreement on Samoa of 1899.

Protectorate of the United States of America

Pago Pago harbor today and inter-island dock area.

The following year, the U.S. formally occupied its portion: a smaller group of eastern islands, one of which surrounds the noted harbor of Pago Pago. After the United States Navy took possession of eastern Samoa on behalf of the United States, the existing coaling station at Pago Pago Bay was expanded into a full naval station, known as United States Naval Station Tutuila under the command of a commandant. The Navy secured a Deed of Cession of Tutuila in 1900 and a Deed of Cession of Manuʻa in 1904. The last sovereign of Manuʻa, the Tui Manuʻa Elisala, was forced to sign a Deed of Cession of Manuʻa following a series of U.S. Naval trials, known as the "Trial of the Ipu," in Pago Pago, Taʻu, and aboard a Pacific Squadron gunboat.[8] The territory became known as the U.S. Naval Station Tutuila.

On July 17, 1911, the U.S. Naval Station Tutuila, which was composed of Tutuila, Aunu'u and Manu'a, was officially renamed American Samoa.[9][10]

Early 20th century and World War I

Swains Island, which had been included in the list of guano islands appertaining to the US and bonded under the Guano Islands Act, was annexed in 1925 by Pub. Res. 68-75.[11]

After World War I, during the time of the Mau movement in Western Samoa (then a League of Nations mandate governed by New Zealand), there was a corresponding American Samoa Mau movement,[8] led by Samuelu Ripley, a World War I veteran who was from Leone village, Tutuila. After meetings in the United States mainland, he was prevented from disembarking from the ship that brought him home to American Samoa and was not allowed to return because the American Samoa Mau movement was suppressed by the U.S. Navy. In 1930 the U.S. Congress sent a committee to investigate the status of American Samoa, led by Americans who had a part in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Interwar period

Pan American and first trans-South Pacific flight
The Samoan Clipper

In 1938, the noted aviator Ed Musick and his crew died on the Pan American World Airways S-42 Samoan Clipper over Pago Pago, while on a survey flight to Auckland, New Zealand. Sometime after take-off, the aircraft experienced trouble, and Musick turned it back toward Pago Pago. While the crew began dumping fuel in preparation for an emergency landing, a spark in the fuel pump caused an explosion that tore the aircraft apart in mid-air.[12]

World War II and aftermath

During World War II, U.S. Marines in Samoa outnumbered the local population, having a huge cultural influence. Young Samoan men from the age of 14 and above were combat trained by U.S. military personnel. Samoans served in various capacities during World War II, including as combatants, medical personnel, code personnel, and ship repairmen.

In 1949, Organic Act 4500, a U.S. Department of Interior-sponsored attempt to incorporate American Samoa, was introduced in Congress. It was ultimately defeated, primarily through the efforts of Samoan chiefs, led by Tuiasosopo Mariota.[13] These chiefs' efforts led to the creation of a territorial legislature, the American Samoa Fono, which meets in the village of Fagatogo.

From 1951 to 1999

By 1956, the navy-appointed governor was replaced by a locally elected one (United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, a listing which is disputed by the territorial government officials, who do consider themselves to be self-governing.

Locations of Pacific Ocean splashdowns of American spacecraft

American Samoa and Pago Pago International Airport had historic significance with the Apollo Program.[14] The astronaut crews of Apollo 10, 12, 13, 14, and 17 were retrieved a few hundred miles from Pago Pago and transported by helicopter to the airport prior to being flown to Honolulu on C-141 Starlifter military aircraft.[15]

While the two Samoas share language and ethnicity, their cultures have recently followed different paths, with American Samoans often emigrating to Hawaiʻi and the U.S. mainland, and adopting many U.S. customs, such as the playing of American football and baseball. Western Samoans have tended to emigrate instead to New Zealand, whose influence has made the sports of rugby and cricket more popular in the western islands. Travel writer Paul Theroux noted that there were marked differences between the societies in Samoa and American Samoa.

21st century

Due to economic hardship, military service has been seen as an opportunity in American Samoa and other U.S. Overseas territories,[16] this has meant that there have been a disproportionate number of casualties per population compared to other parts of the United States. As of March 23, 2009, there have been 10 American Samoans who have died in Iraq, and 2 who have died in Afghanistan.[17]

Notable events

[18] On December 10, 1787, French navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse landed two exploration parties on Tutuila's north shore: one from the ship La Boussole ("The Compass") at Fagasa, and the other from L' Astrolabe ("The Quadrant") at A'asu. One of the cooks, David, died of "scorbutic dropsy". On December 11, 1787, twelve members of Jean-François de La Pérouse's crew (including First Officer Paul-Antoine Fleuriot de Langle and 39 Samoans) were killed by angry Samoans at A'asu Bay, Tutuila, thereafter known as "Massacre Bay," which La Pérouse described as "this den, more fearful from its treacherous situation and the cruelty of its inhabitants than the lair of a lion or a tiger." This incident gave Samoa a reputation for savagery, and kept Europeans away until the arrival of the first Christian missionaries four decades later. On December 12, 1787, at A'asu Bay, Tutuila, French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse ordered his gunners to fire one cannonball in the midst of the attackers who had killed twelve of his men the day before, and were now returning to launch another attack. He later wrote in his journal "I could have destroyed or sunk a hundred canoes, with more than 500 people in them: but I was afraid of striking the wrong victims; the call of my conscience saved their lives." [19]

On March 25, 1891, Robert Louis Stevenson paid a rare visit to Pago Pago.

On December 15, 1916, English writer William Somerset Maugham arrived in Pago Pago, allegedly accompanied by a missionary and Miss Sadie Thompson. His visit inspired his short story “Rain”, which later became plays and three major Motion Pictures. The building Maugham stayed during his visit still stands and has been for decades renamed Sadie Thompson Building today it is a prominent restaurant and Inn.[20]

[21] On November 3, 1920, American Samoa's 12th naval governor Commander Warren Jay Terhune, committed suicide with a pistol in the bathroom of the Government mansion, overlooking the entrance to Pago Pago Harbor. His body was discovered by Government House's cook, SDI First Class Felisiano Debid Ahchica, USN. (His ghost is rumored to walk about the grounds at night).

On August 11, 1925, Margaret Mead arrived in American Samoa aboard SS Sonoma to begin fieldwork for her doctoral dissertation in anthropology at Columbia University, where she was a student of Professor Franz Boas. Her work Coming of Age in Samoa was published in 1928 at the time becoming the most widely read book in the field of anthropology. The book however has sparked years of ongoing and intense debate and controversy.[22] The traditionalist conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute listed Coming of Age in Samoa as #1 as the "50 Worst Books of the Twentieth Century". Mead returned to American Samoa one last time in 1971 for the dedication of the Jean P. Haydon Museum.

[23] On November 24, 1939, American Samoa's last execution was carried out. Imoa, who was convicted of stabbing Sema to death, was hanged in the Customs House. The popular Samoan song "Fa'afofoga Samoa" said to be the final words of Imoa are based on these events.

[24] On January 11, 1942, at 2:26 a.m., "a Japanese submarine surfaced about 10,000 yards off the north coast of Tutuila between Southworth Point and Fagasa Bay," and fired about fifteen projectiles from its 5.5-inch deck gun at the U.S. Naval Station Tutuila over a period of approximately ten minutes. The first shell struck the rear of the store of Frank Shimasaki, one of Tutuila's few Japanese residents. The store was closed at the time, as Mr. Shimasaki was interned because of his "foreign background." The next one inflicted slight damage on the naval dispensary, the third landed on the lawn behind the naval quarters known as "Centipede Row," while the fourth hit the stone seawall outside the customs house. The others fell harmlessly into the harbor. "The fire was not returned, notwithstanding the eagerness of the Samoan Marines to test their skill against the enemy....No American or Samoan Marines were wounded." Commander Edwin B. Robinson, who was bicycling behind Centipede Row, was wounded in the knee by a piece of shrapnel and "a member of the colorful native Fita Fita Guard" received minor injuries; they were the only casualties. This was the only time that the Japanese attacked Tutuila during World War II, but "Japanese submarines did patrol the waters around Samoa prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and were active in the area throughout the war."

[25] On August 24, 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited American Samoa and inspected the Fita Fita Guard and Band and the First Samoan Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, at the U.S. Naval Station American Samoa.

[26] On October 18, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson visited American Samoa. Mrs. Johnson dedicated the "Manulele Tausala" ("Lady Bird") Elementary School in Nu'uuli, which was named after her. Lyndon Johnson was the only U.S. President to visit American Samoa. Mrs. Johnson was the second First Lady to visit the Territory. The first was Eleanor Roosevelt in 1943. The territory's only hospital was renamed in honor of President Johnson.

[27] In the late 1960s and early 1970s American Samoa played a pivotal role in five of the Apollo Program missions. Astronauts returned to Earth just a few hundred miles from Pago and were transported to the islands en route home to the mainland. Three moon rocks gifted to the American Samoan Government by President Nixon are on display in the Jean P. Haydon museum along with a flag carried to the moon by one of the astronauts.

On November 1970 Pope Paul VI visited American Samoa in a brief but lavish greeting.

On January 30, 1974, Pan Am Flight 806, arriving on Wednesday night from Auckland, New Zealand with 91 passengers aboard crashed at Pago Pago International Airport at 10:41 p.m. 86 people were killed, including Captain Leroy A. Petersen and the entire flight crew. Five passengers were injured: four seriously, and one minor. The plane was demolished by impact and fire. The crash was variously attributed to poor visibility, pilot error or wind shear. A violent storm was raging when the plane crashed.[28] In January 2014 filmmaker Paul Crompton visited the territory to interview local residents for a documentary film about the 1974 crash.

On April 17, 1980, during Flag Day celebrations in American Samoa, a U.S. Navy patrol plane, carrying six skydivers from the U.S. Army's Hawaii-based Tropic Lightning Parachute Club, had its vertical stabilizer shorn off by the Solo Ridge—Mount Alava aerial tramway cable, which stretches across Pago Pago Harbor. The plane crashed, demolishing a wing of the Rainmaker Hotel and killing seven people (all six crew members and one civilian). All six skydivers were reported in good condition. A memorial monument is erected on Mt. Mauga O Ali'i to honor their memory.

[29] On July 22, 2010, Det. Lt. Lusila Brown was fatally shot outside the temporary High Court building in Fagatogo. The murder sent shock and panic waves throughout the island normally unscathed by gun violence. It was the first time in more than 15 years that a police officer was killed in the line of duty. The last was Sa Fuimaono who drowned after saving a teenager from rough seas.

[30] On November 7, 2010, Secretary of state and former First Lady Hillary Clinton made a refueling stopover at the Pago Pago International Airport. She was greeted by government dignitaries and presented with gifts and a traditional ava ceremony.

September 2009 earthquake and tsunami

Tonga Trench south of the Samoa Islands and north of New Zealand.

On September 29, 2009 at 17:48:11 UTC, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck 120 miles (190 km) off the coast of American Samoa, followed by smaller aftershocks.[31] It was the largest earthquake of 2009. The quake occurred on the outer rise of the Kermadec-Tonga Subduction Zone. This is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates in the Earth's lithosphere meet and earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. The quake struck 11.2 miles (18.0 km) below the ocean floor and generated an onsetting tsunami that killed more than 170 people in the Samoa Islands and Tonga.[32][33] Four waves with heights from 15 feet (4.6 m) to 20 feet (6.1 m) high were reported to have reached up to one mile (1.6 km) inland on the island of Tutuila.[34]

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide 16’ x 16’ humanitarian tents to the devastated areas of American Samoa.

Notable people and residents

Arts and crafts

Mary Jewett Pritchard was a master Siapo (tapa cloth) maker and teacher.[35] Pritchard is historically recognized for reviving the nearly lost art. In 1927 Pritchard began successfully exporting Siapo, her business exposed thousands of people around the world to Siapo and provided a significant interest for artists to continue creating and teaching the craft. Pritchard continued to create and teach Siapo until her death in 1992. Pritchard's family and students continues the tradition today.

Sven Ortquist was a master wood carver.[36] Ortquist was diagnosed at age 9 with Hansen's disease and was sent to a remote leper colony on Fiji. It was there that nuns gave him tools and wood and Ortquist taught himself to carve. Ortquist sculptures adorn churches and public buildings, and many of his most treasured works are preserved at the local Jean P. Haydon museum. Ortquist died of cancer in 2013.

Reggie Meredith is an artist.[37] Her work is displayed on public buildings and was featured in several documentaries. Meredith is a professor in the Fine Arts Department at the American Samoa Community College.

Beauty pageants

Multi-beauty pageant winner Marion Malena (Miss UTOPIA USA)

Darlene Schweneke is the first and only contestant to represent American Samoa at the Miss Universe pageant in 1975.

Noanoa Hill was Miss Samoa World and represented Samoa at Miss World 1988.

Juliette Spencer is the inaugural winner of the first Miss South Pacific Pageant in 1987.[38] Other Miss American Samoa's who have won the prestigious title are 1993 Leilua Stevenson, 1995 Rochelle Tuitele, 2000 Helen Afatasi Burke and 2002 Lupe Aumavae.

Marion Malena is a multiple beauty pageant winner and performer.[39] Malena resides in Seattle, Wa.

Film and stage

Fire knife dancing pioneer and Hollywood act Freddie Letuli

John Kneubuhl was a Hollywood screenwriter, playwright and Polynesian historian. He wrote for American television series such as The Fugitive, Gunsmoke, The Wild Wild West, Star Trek, The Invaders and Hawaii Five-O. An annual award named in his honor is presented by the department of education to local students.

Freddie Letuli was the legendary pioneer of the world famous Polynesian fire knife dance. He became a popular demand and toured his shows across the United States and Europe appearing in TV shows and movies. Letuli died in 2003. The annual World Fire Knife competition is held each year in his honor.

Al Harrington (actor) is a Hollywood character actor best known for playing "Det. Ben Kokua" on the original Hawaii Five-O.

[40] Jerry Groves worked as a movie extra and character actor in 1940s and 1950s Hollywood.

[41] Jerado Decordovier was a film and television character actor.

Hollywood actor Eric Stoltz lived with his family in American Samoa, his father was a principal for Leone High School in the late 1960s.[42]

Tina Marie (Christina Laolagi) is a former pornographic actress. Laolagi has long retired from the adult industry but renewed interest have kept her films in recent circulation.[43]

Tia Carrere at the peak of her Hollywood career in the 1990s often visited American Samoa. She lived with her father who married a local Samoan woman.

Gary Scott Thompson is a Hollywood screenwriter, television producer and director. He is best known for his work on The Fast & the Furious film series.

Setu Taase is a film actor. He is best known for playing Junior Palaita in Gridiron Gang.

Tasi Alabastro born to Filipino parents in American Samoa is an independent filmmaker and actor.[44]

Sele Leota is a Hollywood film editor known for his work on Project Runway and Keeping up with the Kardashians.[45]

Clare Cahill is a movie assistant manager, producer and production manager. Cahill lived in American Samoa with her family for several years.[46]

Arianne Martin is an American film actress who lived in American Samoa with her family for some time.[47]


Award winning writer Sia Figiel was an educator for Fa'asao-Marist and Samoana High School. Figiel was a special liaison for the congressman's office for several years.

Fofó Iosefa Fiti Sunia founded American Samoa's first newspaper in the 1960s and was later elected congressman. Sunia published a series writings among them The story of the legislature of American Samoa: 1948 -1998 and Puputoa: A Host of Heroes (Biographies of the History Makers of American Samoa 1900-2000).

Tialuga Seloti is an educator, writer and poet.

[48] Vena Sele is a retired educator and author. Sele published her autobiography "Memoirs of a Samoan, Catholic and Fa'afafine" in 2007 documenting experiences including founding the Miss Island Queen Pageant and becoming the first fa'afafine to hold a deputy position in American Samoa.


Samoan Music Legends Malia & Alapati Savea of "Penina O Tiafau"
Music Star Aliimau Jr. Scanlan
Recording Artist Ras Mas

Tiama'a Samoa's most famous musical band lived and performed in American Samoa for several years. Some of the band's most popular hits "Sosefina","Taute" and "Seu Lo'u Pologa" were all inspired by women during this tenure.

Malia Savea part of Malia & Alapati popularly known as the duo Penina o Tiafau. The Savea's wrote and perform some of Samoa's most iconic songs their voices have become synonymous with Samoan culture. Malia Savea lives in Hawaii.

Aliimau Jr. Scanlan is one of Samoa's famous local artists with a career spanning decades. Scanlan comes from a family of musicians who have become a local tradition for their TV Christmas specials.

[49] Harry Miller was a prominent musician throughout the pacific. He was a music educator for Fa'asao Marist High School for many years and was married to radio personality Monica Miller. Harry Miller died in 2013.

Atoa Ripley is a music star known for his covers of classic ballads. His signature song is "(Teine) My Island Lady".

The Anivas was a popular music band in the 1990s their lead singer was music educator Miriama Samuelu. The band's memorable love songs remain a popular request at Samoan weddings.

Felsie Mikaele a veteran music legend continues to live and perform frequently in American Samoa promoting back to back albums.

Emma Laussen is best remembered for her hit song "Nofo To'atasi".

The Katinas is a famed contemporary Christian music group composed of brothers.

Mauto'atasi lived and performed in local nightclubs before becoming a solo artist. He is known for his distinctive voice and his mega-hit song "Toe fo'i le tama Savai'i".

Fuafiva Va'a is a local recording artist. Va'a won won the first ever "Samoa Idol" competition and later recorded Christian albums spawning a series of popular songs.

[50] Ras-Mas is a local recording artist. He is known for his 2009 hit song "Pretty lil Teine".

Tap's Band'is a popular music group known for their hits "Ta fia taoto i lou moega" and "Nofo mai aua te alu".

Ice-Cream man is a local recording artist and producer. He is known for his collaboration on Vaniah Toloa's hit song "Samoa e Mapoopo Mai".

J-Zee is a locally based hip-hop artist.

Elijah Tavai is a local Christian music artist. He is known for his cover version of "Ulufale".

Jonitta Fruean is a local R&B recording artist.

'Nina Namazzi is a recording artist. She is known for her song "Siva Mai".

[51] Army soldier Paul Ieti while being deployed in Iraq made national news when a video of him crooning a song became viral overnight. Ieti is a social media phenomenon where he continues to post his work.


[52] David Davis was a wanted fugitive for the murder of his wife Shannon Mohr in Michigan. In 1989 he was arrested by local police and FBI agents in American Samoa. Davis was working as a pilot for Samoa Air and married to a 23 year old Samoan woman. The FBI was informed by a viewer after Davis was profiled on the popular TV show Unsolved Mysteries. The notorious crime was made into a book and television movie. Davis is serving life in prison.

[53] Atisone "Shalimar" Seiui generated extensive publicity following an incident with Hollywood star Eddie Murphy in 1997. Seiuli died in Los Angeles in 1998.

[54] Mikhail Sebastian a statelessness film actor and producer from Los Angeles sparked national media coverage after being reportedly stuck in American Samoa for a year. Sebastian arrived in Pago Pago for a brief vacation and took a short side trip to Western Samoa, not realizing that it is a separate and independent nation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deemed that self-deportation making him unable to return the United States.

Radio and television

Legendary personality and senator Lutu Tenari Fuimaono
Television Journalist Rosemary Kent
Lupe Lu entertaining guests at an awards gala among them NFL star Jesse Sapolu

[55] Lutu Tenari Fuimaono was a popular local personality and political figure. Fuimaono is often cited as American Samoa's first radio star he was known for his on-air catch phrases "Tama Lelei" (good father) and "Va'aai le Manaia" (very nice). In his political career Fuimaono served 19 years as senator before being elected president in 1996. He also served three terms in the territorial House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate. Fuimaono died in 2004.

Rosemary Chamberlain Kent is one of Samoa's most well known TV personalities. Kent was a news anchor for KVZK-2 for several years and covered CNN news reports from the islands and is often remembered for her feisty persona during coverage of yearly Fautasi races. Kent now lives in Hawaii and currently host and produce a weekly talk show on Public TV on (OLELO TV).

Andrew Thompson was a popular radio host for KSBS-FM. Thompson is well known for his Elvis impersonating voice style .Thompson is currently a newscaster for KVZK-2.

Lupe Lu Lohman is a radio personality for many years. Lohman is remembered for her courageous efforts during the 2009 Samoa earthquake and tsunami. While on air during their "Samoan Sunrise" morning show Lohman and co-host Joey Cummings asked the public to remain calm and move to higher grounds they then proceeded to pray.[56] Lohman and Cummings were honored by International Broadcasters Idea Bank for their efforts.

Siniva Anoai is a veteran TV personality for KVZK-2 . Anoai remains the longest serving news anchor her voice is often heard during the ending of each broadcast day. Anoai is currently the assistant director for the Office of public information.

Vaoita Savali was a TV personality for KVZK-2. Savali's voice can still be heard in several KVZK segments. Savali died in 2005.

Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde is a popular radio and TV host. Langkilde is synonymous with the Miss American Samoa and Miss South Pacific pageants and yearly flag day festivities for which he hosted for many years.[57] Langkilde is currently the director for the Office of public information.

[58] Kalameli Timu was a well-known radio and TV personality. Timu became a catholic deacon's wife and dedicated her life to the ministry. Timu died in 2012.

Monica Miller is a veteran radio and TV personality. Miller is currently the news director for 93KHJ radio. Miller was married to musician Harry Miller.

Fili Sagapolutele is a popular radio host and journalist. Sagapolutele is known for her on-air "Faleo'o Stories". Sagapolutele is the only international correspondent from American Samoa for the Associated Press and currently hosts the morning show for KSBS-FM.

Fatima Langlikde is a former TV personality. Langkilde co-anchored American Samoa's first cable talk show "Talofa Samoa" on K34HI Malama TV. The show was popular among viewers but the network station was short lived canceling all services after 4 years. Lankgkilde is also a former Miss American Samoa in 1969.

Ruth Tuiteleapaga is a former news anchor for KVZK-2 News.

Fa'afetai Lauti is a former news anchor for KVZK-2 News.

Fuatino Matati is a former news anchor for KVZK-2 News.

[59] Mark Gerek was the first local host and manager of 93KHJ radio. In 2001 during a scuba dive Gerek was lost at sea his body was never recovered.

Diehl Langkilde is a radio host and local personality. Langkilde currently hosts the evening show for KSBS-FM.

Daniel Fiu is a radio and TV host. Fiu is currently a news anchor for KVZK-2 news.

Dave Mageo is a TV anchorman. Mageo is currently a news anchor for KVZK-2 news.

Shane Filipo is a radio host and local personality.


Tony Solaita was Samoa's only major league baseball player (New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, California Angels, Montreal Expos, and Toronto Blue Jays). Solaita was killed during a family dispute in 1990. A popular park and sporting field in Tafuna is named in his honor.

Afa and Sika Anoa'i are legendary professional wrestlers known as The Wild Samoans. They held 21 tag team championships around the world. They are the patriarchs for the legendary Anoa'i family which includes many professional wrestlers, including former WWE Champion Yokozuna, former tag team champions Solofa Fatu, Sam Fatu, and Samula Anoa'i, current WWE superstar Roman Reigns and former WWE Intercontinental Champion Eddie Fatu (Umaga), amongst others.

The High Chief Peter Maivia, a blood brother to the Anoa'i family, was also a legendary professional wrestler, promoting a National Wrestling Alliance territory out of Hawaii and becoming a folk hero amongst the Samoan population of San Francisco. He is the grandfather of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.

Jack Thompson "the Throwin' Samoan" is the first Samoan member of a Super Bowl team, in Super Bowl XVI. He did not play that year and was not the first Samoan to play in a Super Bowl that feat belongs to San Francisco 49ers nose tackle Manu Tuiasosopo in 1985.

Cocoa Samoa was a professional wrestler in the 1980s. He held several championship titles.

[60] Jonathan Fanene became the first NFL player to be appointed a cabinet position in the American Samoa Government in 2014.

Government and politics


The government of American Samoa is defined under the Constitution of American Samoa. As an unincorporated territory, the Ratification Act of 1929 vested all civil, judicial, and military powers in the President of the United States of America, who in turn delegated authority to the United States Secretary of the Interior in Executive Order 10264, who, in turn, promulgated the Constitution of American Samoa on June 2, 1967, effective July 1, 1967.

former First Lady Mary Tulafono and former Governor Togiola Tulafono.

The Governor of American Samoa is the head of government and along with the Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa is elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms.

The legislative power is vested in the American Samoa Fono, which has two chambers. The House of Representatives has 21 members, elected for a two-year term, 20 in single-seat constituencies and one by a public meeting on Swain Island. The Senate also has 18 members, elected for a four-year term by and from the chiefs of the islands.

The judiciary of American Samoa is independent of the executive and the legislature, and the High Court of American Samoa is the highest court below the United States Supreme Court in American Samoa, with the District Courts below it. The High Court is located in the capital of Pago Pago. It consists of a Chief Justice and an Associate Justice, appointed by the United States Secretary of the Interior.


Politics of American Samoa takes place in a framework of a Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior. Its constitution was ratified in 1966 and came into effect in 1967. Executive power is exercised by the governor. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the legislature. The American political parties (Republican and Democratic) exist in American Samoa, but few politicians are aligned with the parties. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

There is also the traditional village politics of the Samoa Islands, the "fa'amatai" and the "fa'asamoa", which continues in American Samoa and in independent Samoa, and which interacts across these current boundaries. The Fa'asamoa is the language and customs, and the Fa'amatai the protocols of the "fono" (council) and the chief system. The Fa'amatai and the Fono take place at all levels of the Samoan body politic, from the family, to the village, to the region, to national matters.

The "matai" (chiefs) are elected by consensus within the fono of the extended family and village(s) concerned. The matai and the fono (which is itself made of matai) decide on distribution of family exchanges and tenancy of communal lands. The majority of lands in American Samoa and independent Samoa are communal. A matai can represent a small family group or a great extended family that reaches across islands, and to both American Samoa and independent Samoa.

One issue that has caused quite a bit of criticism was a decision approved by the "Constitution Convention", held locally. The decision was to allow only U.S Nationals with Samoan ancestry to be legislators.[61]

In 2012, both the Governor and American Samoa's delegate to the US Congress Eni Faleomavaega called for the populace to consider a move towards autonomy if not independence, to a mixed response.[62][63]


People born in American Samoa – including those born on Swains Island – are American nationals,[64] but are not American citizens unless one of their parents is a U.S. citizen. Samoan Congressman Faleomavaega has supported the legal interpretation that the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not extend birthright citizenship to United States nationals who are born in unincorporated territories in an amicus curiae brief filed in federal court.[65]

As U.S. nationals rather than U.S. citizens, American Samoans may not vote in U.S. presidential elections.[64] However, American Samoans can enter the US mainland on the same basis as U.S. citizens. The US government cannot impose income tax on American Samoans residing in the mainland and the territory.[64] As noncitizen Americans, they may naturalize if they reside in any U.S. state for 3 months, pass an English and civics test, and take an oath of allegiance.[66]

Samoans are entitled to elect one non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives.[64] Their delegate since 1989 had been Democrat Eni Faleomavaega. They also send delegates to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. In the 2014 Midterm Election, Republican Aumua Amata Radewagen defeated Eni Faleomavaega, becoming the first female Republican representative for American Samoa.[67]

Official protest to naming of neighboring Samoa

The United States Department of State Background Note web page for neighboring Samoa notes that:

In July 1997 the Constitution was amended to change the country's name from Western Samoa to Samoa (officially the "Independent State of Samoa").[68] Western Samoa had been known simply as Samoa in the United Nations since joining the organization in 1976. The neighboring U.S. territory of American Samoa protested the move, feeling that the change diminished its own Samoan identity. American Samoans still use the terms Western Samoa and Western Samoans.[69]

Administrative divisions

American Samoa is administratively divided into three

Country data
  • - Official Government Website
  • Samoan Bios
  • American Samoa at DMOZ
  • NOAA's National Weather Service - American Samoa

External links

  • Ellison, Joseph (1938). Opening and Penetration of Foreign Influence in Samoa to 1880. Corvallis: Oregon State College.
  • Sunia, Fofo (1988). The Story of the Legislature of American Samoa. Pago Pago: American Samoa Legislature.
  • Meti, Lauofo (2002). Samoa: The Making of the Constitution. Apia: Government of Samoa.


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See also

Track and field is not a popular sport in American Samoa, but it hit the limelight when 130 kg sprinter, (Sogelau Tuvalu) competed in the men's 100m of the IAAF World Championships at Daegu, South Korea, in August 2011. The 17-year-old finished last in his preliminary rounds but clocked a personal best 15.66 seconds despite running into a headwind of -0.9, surprisingly not the slowest time in the world championships history as the time is faster than 21.73 seconds set in 1997 by an injured Kim Collins who became the world champion six years later.[95] Tuvalu was a shot putter but did not qualify for the shotput event so instead competed in the 100m. He was said to have trained for 4 months for the 100m, though did not wear spikes, and instead wore shot putters smooth bottom shoes.

Track and field

Rugby union is a growing sport in American Samoa. The first rugby game recorded in American Samoa was in 1924, since then the development of the game had been heavily overshadowed by the influence of American Football during the 1970s. The highest governing body of rugby in American Samoa is the American Samoa Rugby Union which was founded in 1990 and was not affiliated into the IRB until 2012. Internationally, two American Samoans have played for the New Zealand national rugby union team, known as the All Blacks. Frank Solomon (born in Pago Pago) became the first American national of Samoan descent to play for a New Zealand team. Considered a pacific pioneer in New Zealand rugby, Solomon scored a try against Australia in the inaugural Bledisloe Cup match in 1932, which New Zealand won 21-13. The second American Samoan to play for the All Blacks is Jerome Kaino (born in Faga'alu). A native of Leone, Kaino moved to New Zealand when he was 4 years old. In 2004 at age 21, he played his first match for New Zealand against the Barbarians where he scored his first try, contributing to New Zealand's 47-19 victory that resulted him man of the match. He also played a crucial role in the Rugby World Cup 2011 playing every match presented. He managed to score four tries in the event which lead to New Zealand winning the final against France 8-7.

Rugby union

American Samoa national association football team is one of the newest teams in the world, and is also noted for being the world's weakest. They lost to Australia 31–0 in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match on April 11, 2001, but on November 22, 2011 they finally won their first ever game, beating Tonga 2-1 in a FIFA World Cup qualifier.[93] The appearance of American Samoa's Jaiyah Saelua in the contest "apparently became the first transgender player to compete on a World Cup stage."[94]

Association football

Some Samoan Sumo wrestlers, most famously Musashimaru and Konishiki have reached the highest ranks of ōzeki and yokozuna. Despite the relatively small population of the islands many Samoans and people of Samoan descent have reached high ranks in many professional sports leagues.

Sumo wrestling

A number of American Samoan athletes have been very visible in boxing, kickboxing, and professional wrestling (see especially Anoa'i family). World Wrestling Entertainment has employed many members from the Anoa'i family.

Professional wrestling

There is also a new movement which aims to set up a four team domestic competition in American Samoa.[92]

American Samoa get broadcast of the National Rugby League in Australia on free-to-air television.[92]

The American Samoa national rugby league team represents the country in international rugby league. The team competed in the 1988, 1992, 1998 and 2004 Pacific Cup competitions. The team has also competed in the 2003 and 2004 world sevens qualifiers in the 2005 World sevens. America Samoa's first match in international Rugby League was in 1988 pacific cup against Tonga, Tonga won the match 38-14 which is still the biggest loss by an American Samoan side. American Samoa's biggest win was in 2004 against New Caledonia with the score ending at 62-6.

Rugby league

About 30 ethnic Samoans, many from American Samoa, currently play in the National Football League, and more than 200 play NCAA Division I college football.[90] In recent years, it has been estimated that a Samoan male (either an American Samoan, or a Samoan living in the 50 United States) is anywhere from 40[91] to 56 times[90] more likely to play in the NFL than a non-Samoan American. Six-time All-Pro Junior Seau was one of the most famous Americans of Samoan heritage ever to play in the NFL, having been elected to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, though born and raised in the mainland U.S., is perhaps the most famous Samoan currently in the NFL, not having his hair cut since 2000 (and only because a USC coach told him he had to) and wearing it down during games in honor of his heritage. The football culture was featured on 60 Minutes January 17, 2010.

American football

The main sports played in American Samoa are Samoan cricket, baseball, basketball, soccer, and American football. In Samoan villages, volleyball is also popular.


The ethnic culture of American Samoa is almost the same as the ethnic culture of Western Samoa (Upolu and Savaii). The U.S. sovereignty distinguishes the civilization of American Samoa from the sovereign Samoa.[89]


The island contains 23 primary schools and 10 secondary schools, 5 are operated by the American Samoa Department of Education.[88] and the other 5 are administered by either religious denominations or are privately owned. American Samoa Community College, founded in 1970, provides post-secondary education on the islands.


As of February 2013, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website reports membership of 15,411 (27%), with 37 congregations in American Samoa.[87]

As of February 2013, the World Christian Database showed the religious affiliations of American Samoa as 98% Christian, 0.7% agnostic, 0.4% Chinese Universalist, 0.3% Buddhist and 0.3% Bahá'i.[86]

As of February 2013, the CIA Factbook showed the religious affiliations of American Samoa as largely Christian: 50% Christian Congregationalist, 20% Roman Catholic, and 30% Protestant and other faiths.[2]


Of the population, 91.6 percent are native Samoans, 2.8% are Asian, 1% are Caucasian, 4.2% are Mixed, and 0.3% are of other origin. Most people are bilingual. Samoan, a language closely related to Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages, is spoken natively by 91% of the people, while 2.9% speak English, 2.4% speak Tongan, 2% speak Japanese and other Asian languages, and 2% speak other Pacific islander languages.[2] At least some of the deaf population uses Samoan Sign Language.

Ethnicity and language

American Samoa is small enough to have just one ZIP code, 96799, and uses the U.S. Postal Service (state code "AS") for mail delivery.[84][85]

The population of American Samoa stands at about 55,519 people, 95% of whom live on the largest island, Tutuila.[64]


American Samoa has a total of 241 km of highways (estimated in 2008).[2] Ports and harbors include Aunu‘u, Auasi, Faleāsao, Ofu and Pago Pago.[2] American Samoa has no railways.[2] The country has three airports, all of which have paved runways. The main airport is Pago Pago International Airport.[2] As per a 1999 estimate, there are no merchant marines in American Samoa.[2]

American Samoa Route Marker — Main Road
The current territorial license plate design, introduced in 1999


American Samoa is an independent customs territory. As such, local residents are not subject to US federal income taxes on Samoan source income nor are they subject to pay any real estate taxes on owned properties.[83]


The Unemployment rate was 29.8% (2005), but has been improved to 23.8% as of (2010). Samoa GDP is $537 million and its GDP - per capita (PPP) is $8,000 (2007).

In 2007, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 was passed, increasing minimum wage in American Samoa by 50¢ per hour in 2007 and another 50¢ per hour each year thereafter until the minimum wage in American Samoa equals the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour in the United States.[79] In response to the minimum wage increase, one of the two major tuna canning plants in American Samoa, Chicken of the Sea, was shut down in 2009 and 2,041 employees were laid off in the process.[80] The other major tuna canning plant in American Samoa, StarKist, began laying off workers in August 2010, with plans to lay off a total of 800 workers, due to the minimum wage increases and other rising operation costs.[81] American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono suggested that, rather than laying off minimum wage workers, the companies could reduce salaries and bonuses of top-tier employees.[82]

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 has, since inception, contained special provisions for American Samoa, citing its limited economy.[76] American Samoa wages are based on the recommendations of a Special Industry Committee meeting bi-annually.[77] Originally, the Act contained provisions for other territories, provisions which were phased out as those territories developed more diverse economies.[78]

From 2002 to 2007, the population of American Samoa increased at an average annual rate of 2.3 percent, and real GDP per capita decreased at an average annual rate of 1.9 percent.

  • A Average annual growth rate.
  • B In millions of dollars.
  • C In millions of 2005 chained dollars.
  • D Source: 2008 American Samoa Statistical Yearbook.
Summary Statistics for American Samoa
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2002–2007 AAGRA
GDPB 536 527 553 550 548 532 −0.1%
Real GDPC 527 535 539 550 534 537 0.4%
PopulationD 60,800 62,600 64,100 65,500 66,900 68,200 2.3%
Real GDP per capita 8,668 8,546 8,409 8,397 7,982 7,874 −1.9%

From 2002 to 2007, real GDP of American Samoa increased at an average annual rate of 0.4 percent. The annual growth rates of real GDP ranged from −2.9 percent to +2.1 percent. The volatility in the growth rates of real GDP was primarily accounted for by changes in the exports of canned tuna. The tuna canning industry was the largest private employer in American Samoa during this period.

The overwhelming majority of public sector employees work for the American Samoa territorial government. The one tuna cannery, StarKist, exports several hundred million dollars worth of canned tuna to the United States each year. The other tuna cannery, Samoa Packing, a Chicken of the Sea subsidiary, closed in 2009 due to American Samoans being granted minimum wage.[75] In early 2007 the Samoan economy was highlighted in the Congress as it was not mentioned in the minimum wage bill, at the request of the Samoan delegate to the United States House of Representatives, Eni Faleomavaega.

There are only a few federal employees in American Samoa and no active duty military personnel except members of the U.S. Coast Guard, although there is an Army Reserve unit. There is also a U.S. Army recruiting station in Utulei.

Employment on the island falls into three relatively equal-sized categories of approximately 5,000 workers each: the public sector, the single remaining tuna cannery, and the rest of the private sector.


The Vailulu'u Seamount, an active submerged volcano, lies 28 miles (45 km) east of Ta'u in American Samoa. It was discovered in 1975 and has since been studied by an international team of scientists, contributing towards understanding of the Earth's fundamental processes.[74] Growing inside the summit crater of Va'ilulu'u is an active underwater volcanic cone, named after Samoa's goddess of war, Nafanua.

Vailulu'u Seamount

Due to its positioning in the South Pacific Ocean, it is frequently hit by tropical cyclones between November and April. Rose Atoll is the easternmost point of the territory. American Samoa is the southernmost part of the United States. American Samoa is home to the National Park of American Samoa.

American Samoa, located within the geographical region of Oceania, is one of only two possessions of the United States in the Southern Hemisphere, the other being Jarvis Island. Its total land area is 76.1 square miles (197.1 km2) – slightly larger than Washington, D.C. – consisting of five rugged, volcanic islands and two coral atolls.[73] The five volcanic islands are: Tutuila, Aunu'u, Ofu, Olosega, Tau. The coral atolls are: Swains, and Rose Atoll. Of the seven islands, Rose Atoll is the only uninhabited one; it is a Marine National Monument.

A view of one of American Samoa's Ofu beach in Ofu-Olosega


[72][71][70], but it is not the of government as the official Constitution of American Samoa—is one of the largest villages and is located on the eastern side of Tutuila island in Ma'oputasi County district #9. Fagatogo is listed in the [2]