American Samoa

Flag of American Samoa

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Settled as early as 1000 B.C., Samoa was "discovered" by European explorers in 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.

Geographic coordinates:

14 20 S, 170 00 W


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


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

Natural resources:

pumice, pumicite

Natural hazards:

typhoons common from December to March

Environment - current issues:

limited natural fresh water resources; the water division of the government has spent substantial funds in the past few years to improve water catchments and pipelines

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


57,902 (July 2004 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.04% (2004 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 75.62 years
male: 72.05 years
female: 79.41 years (2004 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.41 children born/woman (2004 est.)

Ethnic groups:

Samoan (Polynesian) 89%, Caucasian 2%, Tongan 4%, other 5%


Christian Congregationalist 50%, Roman Catholic 20%, Protestant and other 30%


Samoan (closely related to Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages), English
note: most people are bilingual

Dependency status:

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


Pago Pago

National holiday:

Flag Day, 17 April (1900)


18 years of age; universal

Economy - overview:

This is 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 foreign trade. Tuna fishing and tuna processing plants are the backbone of the private sector, with canned tuna the primary export. 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, a developing sector, has been held back by the recurring financial difficulties in East Asia.

Labor force - by occupation:

tuna canneries 34%, government 33%, other 33% (1990)

Unemployment rate:

6% (2000)


revenues: $121 million (37% in local revenue and 63% in US grants)
expenditures: $127 million, including capital expenditures of NA (FY96/97)

Agriculture - products:

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


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


$30 million (2002)

Exports - commodities:

canned tuna 93%

Exports - partners:

Samoa 30%, Canada 20%, Japan 20%, Australia 10%, New Zealand 10%, South Korea 10% (2003 est.)


$123 million (2002)

Imports - commodities:

materials for canneries 56%, food 8%, petroleum products 7%, machinery and parts 6%

Imports - partners:

Australia 23.2%, New Zealand 23.2%, South Korea 21.4%, Mauritius 6.3% (2003 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

important financial support from the US, more than $40 million in 1994


US dollar (USD)

Telephones - main lines in use:

15,000 (2001)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2,377 (1999)

total: 350 km
paved: 150 km
unpaved: 200 km
Ports and harbors:
Aunu'u (new construction), Auasi, Faleosao, Ofu, Pago Pago, Ta'u
Merchant marine:
3 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2003 est.)