American Samoa

American Samoa
the part of Samoa belonging to the U.S., comprising mainly Tutuila and the Manua Islands. 61,819; 76 sq. mi. (197 sq. km). Cap.: Pago Pago. Abbr.: AS (for use with zip code). Cf. Samoa, Western Samoa.

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American Samoa

Introduction American Samoa -
Background: 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. Geography American Samoa
Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 14 20 S, 170 00 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 199 sq km note: includes Rose Island and Swains Island water: 0 sq km land: 199 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 116 km
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: 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
Terrain: five volcanic islands with rugged peaks and limited coastal plains, two coral atolls (Rose Island, Swains Island)
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: Lata 966 m
Natural resources: pumice, pumicite
Land use: arable land: 5% permanent crops: 10% other: 85% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
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 People American Samoa -
Population: 68,688 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38.1% (male 13,445; female 12,688) 15-64 years: 56.7% (male 19,228; female 19,741) 65 years and over: 5.2% (male 1,931; female 1,655) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.31% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 24.04 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 4.34 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 1.17 male(s)/ female total population: 1.02 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 10.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.53 years female: 80.21 years (2002 est.) male: 71.12 years
Total fertility rate: 3.4 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: American Samoan(s) adjective: American Samoan
Ethnic groups: Samoan (Polynesian) 89%, Caucasian 2%, Tongan 4%, other 5%
Religions: Christian Congregationalist 50%, Roman Catholic 20%, Protestant and other 30%
Languages: Samoan (closely related to Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages), English note: most people are bilingual
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 97% male: 98% female: 97% (1980 est.) Government American Samoa -
Country name: conventional long form: Territory of American Samoa conventional short form: American Samoa abbreviation: AS
Dependency status: unincorporated and unorganized territory of the US; administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior
Government type: NA
Capital: Pago Pago Administrative divisions: none (territory of the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are three districts and two 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: ratified 1966, in effect 1967
Legal system: NA
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President George W. BUSH of the US (since 20 January 2001) and Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001) election results: Tauese P. SUNIA reelected governor; percent of vote - Tauese P. SUNIA (Democrat) 50.7%, Lealaifuaneva Peter REID (independent) 47.8% elections: US president and vice president elected on the same ticket for four-year terms; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2004) head of government: Governor Tauese P. SUNIA (since 3 January 1997) and Lieutenant Governor Togiola TULAFONO (since 3 January 1997) cabinet: NA
Legislative branch: bicameral Fono or Legislative Assembly consists of the House of Representatives (21 seats - 20 of which are elected by popular vote and 1 is an appointed, nonvoting delegate from Swains Island; members serve two-year terms) and the Senate (18 seats; members are elected from local chiefs and serve four-year terms) elections: House of Representatives - last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2002); Senate - last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2004) note: American Samoa elects one nonvoting representative to the US House of Representatives; election last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2002); results - Eni F. H. FALEOMAVAEGA (Democrat) reelected as delegate for a sixth term election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - independents 18
Judicial branch: High Court (chief justice and associate justices are appointed by the US Secretary of the Interior) Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party [leader NA]; Republican Party [leader NA] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ESCAP (associate), Interpol
participation: (subbureau), IOC, SPC Diplomatic representation in the US: none (territory of the US) Diplomatic representation from the none (territory of the US)
Flag description: blue, with a white triangle edged in red that is based on the outer side and extends to the hoist side; a brown and white American bald eagle flying toward the hoist side is carrying two traditional Samoan symbols of authority, a staff and a war club Economy American Samoa
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.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $500 million (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: NA%
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $8,000 (2000 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA% industry: NA% services: NA% Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%
Labor force: 14,000 (1996) Labor force - by occupation: government 33%, tuna canneries 34%, other 33% (1990)
Unemployment rate: 6% (2000)
Budget: revenues: $121 million (37% in local revenue and 63% in US grants) expenditures: $127 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY96/97)
Industries: tuna canneries (largely supplied by foreign fishing vessels), handicrafts Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 130 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 120.9 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: bananas, coconuts, vegetables, taro, breadfruit, yams, copra, pineapples, papayas; dairy products, livestock
Exports: $345 million (1999)
Exports - commodities: canned tuna 93%
Exports - partners: US 99.6%
Imports: $452 million (1999)
Imports - commodities: materials for canneries 56%, food 8%, petroleum products 7%, machinery and parts 6%
Imports - partners: US 62%, Australia 11%, Japan 9%, NZ 7%, Fiji 4%, other 7%
Debt - external: $NA Economic aid - recipient: important financial support from the US, more than $40 million in 1994
Currency: US dollar (USD)
Currency code: USD
Exchange rates: the US dollar is used
Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September Communications American Samoa - Telephones - main lines in use: 13,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 2,550 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: good telex, telegraph, facsimile and cellular telephone services; domestic satellite system with 1 Comsat earth station international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 57,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)
Televisions: 14,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .as Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: NA Transportation American Samoa -
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 350 km paved: 150 km unpaved: 200 km
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Aunu'u (new construction), Auasi, Faleosao, Ofu, Pago Pago, Ta'u
Merchant marine: none (2002 est.)
Airports: 4 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 2 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 2 under 914 m: 2 (2001) Military American Samoa -
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the US Transnational Issues American Samoa - Disputes - international: none

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officially Territory of American Samoa

Unincorporated U.S. territory (pop., 2000: 57,291), southwest-central Pacific Ocean.

It includes the islands of Tutuila (the largest, with over two-thirds of the territory's land area and 95% of the population), Aunuu, Rose, Swains, and the Manua group. Area: 77 sq mi (199 sq km). Capital: Pago Pago (on Tutuila). Languages: Samoan, English (both official). Currency: U.S. dollar. Most of the islands are rocky, formed from extinct volcanoes, and are surrounded by coral reefs. Tutuila and the islands of Manua are dominated by central mountain ranges. Fishing and tourism are major industries, but the U.S. administration is the main employer. The majority of the population is of Samoan ancestry. The islands were probably inhabited by Polynesians 2,500 years ago. Dutch explorers became the first Europeans to visit the islands in 1722. A haven for runaway sailors and escaped convicts, the islands were ruled by local chiefs until с 1860. The U.S. gained the right to establish a naval station at Pago Pago in 1872, and the U.S., Britain, and Germany administered a tripartite protectorate in 1889–99. The high chiefs ceded the eastern islands to the U.S. in 1904 (Britain ceded Swains in 1925). American Samoa was administered by the U.S. Department of the Navy until 1951 and afterward by the Department of the Interior. Its first constitution was approved in 1960, and in 1978 the territory's first elected governor took office.

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officially  Territory of American Samoa 
American Samoa, flag of   unincorporated territory of the United States consisting of the eastern part of the Samoan archipelago, located in the south-central Pacific Ocean. It lies about 1,600 miles (2,600 km) northeast of New Zealand and 2,200 miles (3,500 km) southwest of the U.S. state of Hawaii. The territory, which is part of Polynesia, includes the six Samoan islands east of the 171° W meridian. Samoa (formerly Western Samoa), its closest neighbour and a self-governing country, consists of the nine Samoan islands west of the meridian. American Samoa includes the inhabited islands of Tutuila (Tutuila Island), Tau, Olosega, Ofu, and Aunuu (Aunuu Island), along with an uninhabited coral atoll named Rose Island. Swains Island, an inhabited coral atoll, about 280 miles (450 km) northwest of Tutuila and physiographically separate from the archipelago, was made a part of American Samoa in 1925. The capital of American Samoa is Pago Pago, on Tutuila.


 Except for the coral atolls, the islands of American Samoa were formed within the past seven million years by volcanic activity; their interiors are high and rugged. The main island of Tutuila, with an area of 52 square miles (135 square km), rises steeply above deep inlets. The most notable of these inlets is Pago Pago Harbor, which divides the island nearly in two. Tutuila's highest point is Matafao Peak (2,142 feet [653 metres]). The Manua (Manua Islands) island group (Tau, Olosega, and Ofu islands), situated about 60 miles (100 km) east of Tutuila, constitutes the second largest island area. Coral reefs are common at the extremities of the islands, particularly Tutuila; some of the reefs form barriers that enclose lagoons.

      American Samoa's climate is tropical, and precipitation is ample. Pago Pago receives about 200 inches (5,000 mm) annually. Most streams carry greater volumes of water in the highlands than near the sea and do not reach the ocean; rather, they filter into the porous basalt rocks. Hence, coastal wells provide much of the water supply. Temperatures are unusually constant; average temperatures range from the high 60s to the low 90s F (about 21 to 32 °C). Average humidity is 80 percent. The moderate southeast trade winds prevail, but severe storms can occur during the wet season, from November to March.

Plant and animal life
      Rainforests with tall ferns and trees cover the mountainous interiors of the islands. Plantations of taro, coconut, and other food crops are located on the coasts. Although the islands are not rich in animal life, some of their bird species—such as the rare tooth-billed pigeon—are unique. Wildlife includes flying foxes (a type of bat), lizards, rats, snakes, and pigs. The islands also have myriad and ubiquitous flying and crawling insects.

      The great majority of the population (nearly nine-tenths) is ethnically Samoan; there are tiny minorities of Tongan, Asian, and European origin. The Samoans are a Polynesian people closely related to the native peoples of New Zealand, French Polynesia, Hawaii, and Tonga. The Samoan way of life, or fa‘a Samoa, is communal. The basic unit of social organization is the extended family (aiga). Even after decades of foreign influence, most Samoans are fluent in the Samoan language. Most American Samoans nonetheless also speak English. Some three-fifths of the population belongs to one of several Protestant denominations, among which the Congregational Christian Church has the largest following. Another one-fifth of the population is Roman Catholic, and slightly more than one-tenth is Mormon.

      Most people live in coastal villages. Pago Pago, the only real urban area, is the main port and administrative and commercial centre. There is a large proportion of foreign-born residents in American Samoa; more than two-fifths of the people were born outside the territory, largely in Samoa, with smaller proportions from the United States, Tonga, various Asian countries, and other Pacific islands. Additionally, since the mid-20th century many American Samoans have migrated to the United States, with the result that there are more American Samoans abroad than on the islands. The rate of population growth has increased rapidly since the late 20th century, however, mainly because of high birth rates and low death rates.

      The economy is based on services and manufacturing. The government is the main employer. A large part of the national income comes in the form of grants from the U.S. federal government. Tuna canning (by American-owned canneries) and tourism are major industries. Agriculture is organized on a semicommercial basis for the production of taro, bananas, tropical fruits, and vegetables. Traditional family gardens produce coconuts, breadfruit, and yams. Production nearly meets domestic needs, and the U.S. government has implemented programs to increase production to self-sufficiency levels. The United States is the main source of imports (which include fish destined for the canneries, consumer goods, food, and mineral fuels), although Australia and New Zealand also export goods to American Samoa. The United States is also the primary destination for exports, which consist mostly of canned tuna, along with a small amount of pet food.

      A major public works program on American Samoa from the 1970s to the '90s increased the number of miles of paved roads, mostly on the island of Tutuila. Pago Pago is the only major port. An international airport is located on Tutuila, and smaller airstrips operate on other islands.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      Because American Samoa is an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the United States, not all provisions of the U.S. Constitution (Constitution of the United States of America) apply. Moreover, the United States has not provided an organic (charter) act setting forth a system of government. Instead, the U.S. secretary of the interior, who has had jurisdiction over the territory since 1951, gave American Samoa the authority to draft its own constitution (1967). The people are U.S. nationals (with the right to enter and reside in the United States) but not citizens. The territory's chief executive, according to the constitution of 1967, is the governor. In 1976 American Samoans approved a referendum that provided for the popular election of the governor and lieutenant governor for four-year terms; prior to that time, the governor was appointed by the U.S. government. The minimum voting age is 18.

      American Samoa has a bicameral legislature, called the Fono, which meets for two sessions each year. It is autonomous in its disposition of local revenues and is the sole lawmaking body, although the governor has the power to veto legislation. The members of American Samoa's House of Representatives (lower house) are elected by universal suffrage to two-year terms; one member is a nonvoting delegate elected from Swains Island. Members of the Senate (upper house) are chosen by councils of chiefs, in accordance with Samoan custom, to serve four-year terms. In 1981 the first official nonvoting delegate from American Samoa to the U.S. House of Representatives (Representatives, House of) was elected. The United States is responsible for defense.

Local government
      Apart from Swains Island, the islands are divided into several administrative districts (each with an appointed district governor), which are subdivided into counties. The influence of the extended families (aiga) reaches to the district level. The aiga are headed by chiefs (matai), who are selected by their extended families on the basis of consensus. Most chiefs' titles are very old. The matai together make up village and district councils (fono), which control and run local affairs. This autonomous village control is linked with the central government through the district governors, who are appointed by the governor.

      The highest legal authority is the High Court, which is headed by a chief justice and associate justices, all appointed by the U.S. secretary of the interior. The High Court has appellate, trial, and land and titles divisions. Each village has a village court with authority to adjudicate matters pertaining to village rules and local customs. District courts hear preliminary felony proceedings, certain cases arising from the village courts, and civil and small claims.

Health and welfare
      Health conditions are generally good. The leading causes of death include heart diseases, cancers, and diseases of the respiratory system. Life expectancy is in the low 70s for men and low 80s for women, somewhat higher than the averages for the region.

      Education is compulsory between ages 6 and 18 and is provided by public elementary and secondary schools as well as a small number of private schools. The Office of Public Information provides educational television programming to supplement the curriculum of local schools. American Samoa Community College, on Tutuila, offers programs in liberal arts and sciences, vocational and technical training, and nursing school. University education is available from universities in Hawaii or on the U.S. mainland.

Peter Raymond Creevey Albert Wendt Sophie Foster

Cultural life
      The people of American Samoa are heavily influenced by U.S. culture—including television programs, music, and foods—although the traditional fa‘a Samoa is preserved. Songs and dances in particular show the islanders' Polynesian heritage. The National Park of American Samoa, which includes parts of Tutuila, Tau, and Ofu islands, encompasses rugged shorelines, reefs, and rainforests. Further information on the culture of the Samoan people may be found in the article Polynesian culture.

History (American Samoa)
      The Samoan islands were settled by Polynesians (Polynesian culture) (probably from Tonga) about 1000 BCE. Many scholars believe that by about 500 CE Samoa had become the point of origin for voyagers who settled much of eastern Polynesia.

      The Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen sighted Samoa in 1722, and other European explorers, beachcombers, and traders followed. The London Missionary Society sent its first representatives to the islands in the 1830s. More missionaries traveled to the islands as missionary influence spread to Tutuila and later the Manua Islands.

      In 1878 the United States signed a treaty for the establishment of a naval station in Pago Pago Harbor. An 1899 agreement between colonial powers divided Samoa into spheres of influence: Germany gained control of the western islands, and the United States took the eastern islands. Formal cession by the local chiefs came later. By 1904 the eastern islands had all been ceded to the United States, although the U.S. Congress did not formally accept the deeds of cession until Feb. 20, 1929. Under the administration of the U.S. Navy (1900–51), American Samoa became a strategic naval base, but the Samoan leaders had little administrative power. In 1951 control of the territory was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior. The U.S. government appointed a governor who had full powers to administer the territory. The governor appointed political advisers and senior civil servants from the United States to help him.

      The Samoans agitated for control of their country's affairs, and in 1977 Peter Coleman, a Samoan, became the territory's first elected governor. Since then all members of the territory's Fono have been elected by the citizens. In 1981 American Samoans for the first time elected a nonvoting delegate to serve a two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega was elected to that office in 1988 and repeatedly won reelection.

Albert Wendt Sophie Foster

Additional Reading
Lowell D. Holmes, Samoan Village (1974); Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilization (1928), available also in later editions; and Derek Freeman, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth (1983), explore the traditional heritage and its interpretations. Books on people and politics include Paul T. Baker, Joel M. Hanna, and Thelma S. Baker (eds.), The Changing Samoans: Behavior and Health in Transition (1986); George Turner, Samoa, a Hundred Years Ago and Long Before (1884, reprinted 1984); J.W. Davidson, Samoa mo Samoa: The Emergence of the Independent State of Western Samoa (1967); and R.P. Gilson, Samoa, 1830 to 1900: The Politics of a Multi-Cultural Community (1970). A modern survey is offered in Fred Henry, Samoa, an Early History (1980). Further research may be found in Lowell D. Holmes (compiler), Samoan Islands Bibliography (1984). The best sources for a discussion of the political development of Western Samoa include Malama Meleisea and Penelope Schoeffel Meleisea (eds.), Lagaga: A Short History of Western Samoa (1987); and Malama Meleisea, The Making of Modern Samoa (1987). A general overview is provided by Norman Douglas and Ngaire Douglas, Pacific Islands Yearbook (1994).

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Universalium. 2010.

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