Samoa was admitted to the United Nations on 15 December 1976. The entire island group, inclusive of American Samoa, was called "Navigator Islands" by European explorers before the 20th century because of the Samoans' seafaring skills
The oldest date so far from pre-historic remains in Samoa has been calculated by New Zealand scientists to a likely true age of circa 3,000 years ago from a Lapita site at Mulifanua during the 1970s.
The origins of the Samoans is closely studied in modern research about Polynesia in various scientific disciplines such as genetics, linguistics and anthropology. Scientific research is ongoing although a number of different theories exist; including one proposing that the Samoans originated from Austronesian predecessors during the terminal eastward Lapita expansion period from Southeast Asia and Melanesia between 2,500 and 1,500 BCE. The Samoan origins are currently being reassessed due to new scientific evidence and carbon dating findings from 2003 and onwards.
Samoa is located south of the equator, about halfway between Hawai‘i and New Zealand in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. The total land area is 2,934 km² (1,133 sq mi), consisting of the two large islands of Upolu and Savai'i which account for 99% of the total land area, and eight small islets.
These are the three islets in the Apolima Strait (Manono Island, Apolima and Nu'ulopa), the four Aleipata Islands off the eastern end of Upolu (Nu'utele, Nu'ulua, Namua, and Fanuatapu), and Nu'usafe'e (less than 0.01 km² – 2½ acres – in area and about 1.4 km (0.9 mi) off the south coast of Upolu at the village of Vaovai). The main island of Upolu is home to nearly three-quarters of Samoa's population, and its capital city is Apia.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2006 was estimated at $1.218 billion USD. The industrial sector is the largest component of GDP at 58.4%, followed by the services sector at 30.2% (2004 est.). Agriculture represents only 11.4% of GDP (2004 est.). Samoan labour force is estimated at 90,000.
The country currency is the Samoan tālā, issued and regulated by the Central Bank of Samoa. The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on agriculture and fishing at the local level. In modern times, development aid, private family remittances from overseas, and agricultural exports have become key factors in the nation's economy. Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labour force, and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil, noni (juice of the nonu fruit, as it is known in Samoan), and copra.
The fa'a Samoa, or traditional Samoan way, remains a strong force in Samoan life and politics. Despite centuries of European influence, Samoa maintains its historical customs, social and political systems, and language. Cultural customs such as the Samoa 'ava ceremony are significant and solemn rituals at important occasions including the bestowal of matai chiefly titles. Items of great cultural value include the finely woven 'ie toga.
Samoan mythology includes many gods with creation stories and figures of legend such as Tagaloa and the goddess of war Nafanua, the daughter of Saveasi'uleo, ruler of the spirit realm Pulotu. Other legends include the well known story of Sina and the Eel which explains the origins of the first coconut tree.
- Papapapai Uta Falls
- Le Pupu Pue National Park
- Fuipisia Waterfall
- Palolo Deep marine Reserve
- Saanapu and Sataoa mangroves
- Togitogiga Falls
- Lake Lanotoo
- Faleaulupo Rainforest Preserve
- Tafua Peninsula Rainforest Preserve