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American Samoa

Facts & Figures

TERRITORY OF AMERICAN SAMOA

Status: Territory

Governor: Togiola Tulafono (2003)

Capital (2003 est.): Pago Pago, 4,100

Total area: 77 sq mi (199 sq km)

Population (2007 est.): 57,663 (growth rate: –0.3%); birth rate: 21.8/1000; infant mortality rate: 8.9/1000; life expectancy: 76.3; density per sq mi: 750

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

Ethnicity/race: Samoan (Polynesian) 89%, Tongan 4%, Caucasian 2%, other 5%

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

Literacy rate: 97% (1980 est.)

Monetary unit: U.S. dollar

More Facts & Figures

TERRITORY OF AMERICAN SAMOA

American Samoa, a group of five volcanic islands and two coral atolls located some 2,600 mi south of Hawaii in the South Pacific, is an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the U.S. It includes the eastern Samoan islands of Tutuila, Aunu'u, and Rose; three islands (Ta'u, Olosega, and Ofu) of the Manu'a group; and Swains Island. Around 1000 B.C. Proto-polynesians established themselves in the islands, and their descendants are one of the few remaining Polynesian societies. The Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen sighted the Manu'a Islands in 1722. American Samoa has been a territory of the United States since April 17, 1900, when the High Chiefs of Tutuila signed the first of two Deeds of Cession for the islands to the U.S. (Congress ratified the Deeds in 1929.) Swains Island, which is privately owned, came under U.S. administration in 1925.

Until World War II the United States operated a coaling station and naval base in Pago Pago. During the war, the islands were an important U.S. Marines staging area. In 1960 American Samoa ratified its territorial constitution and has since developed a modern, self-governing political system. American Samoans elect a governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature. The legislature (Fono) consists of two houses: the Senate, selected by village chiefs (matai) for four-year terms, and the House of Representatives, elected by the general population for two-year terms. The people of American Samoa are U.S. nationals, not U.S. citizens, but many have become naturalized American citizens. American Samoa does 80%–90% of its foreign trade with the U.S. Canned tuna is the primary export, earning $300 million annually. Transfers from the U.S. government add substantially to American Samoa's economic well-being.

See also Encyclopedia: American Samoa .


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