Definitions

American Samoa

American Samoa

American Samoa, officially Territory of American Samoa, unincorporated territory of the United States (2000 pop. 57,291), comprising the eastern half of the Samoa island chain in the South Pacific. The group (76 sq mi/197 sq km) consists of several major islands: Tutuila, the Manu'a group (Ta'u, Ofu, and Olosega), Rose and Sand Islands, and Swains Island. Pago Pago, the capital, is on Tutuila. Most of the islands are mountainous, heavily wooded, and surrounded by coral reefs.

Polynesians account for a large majority of the population. Christian Congregationalism and other Protestant denominations are practiced by 80% of the people; some 20% are Roman Catholic. Most Samoans are bilingual, speaking the native Polynesian tongue and English.

Subsistence agriculture and the export of canned tuna and handicrafts became the mainstays of the economy after the U.S. naval base at Pago Pago closed in 1951. There is also some light industry. Economic activity is strongly linked to the United States; Australia, Indonesia, and India are also important trading partners. Nearly all the land is communally owned by the Polynesian natives.

The territorial government is headed by a popularly elected governor. There is a bicameral legislature (Fono), consisting of a senate (18 members chosen by local chiefs) and a house of representatives (20 members elected by popular vote, plus one nonvoting member from Swains Island, which is privately owned). There is also an independent judiciary. The inhabitant are considered American nationals, not citizens, and do not vote in U.S. elections, but they do send one nonvoting delegate to the U.S. Congress.

American Samoa was defined by a treaty in 1899 between the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, which gave the United States control of all Samoan islands east of 171°W. American Samoa was under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Dept. of the Navy until 1951, at which time administration was transferred to the Dept. of the Interior, which appointed the governor. In 1978 the first popularly elected Samoan governor was inaugurated. Tauese P. F. Sunia, first elected in 1996, died in 2003; Lieutenant Governor Togiola Tulafona succeeded him as acting governor, and was himself elected governor in 2004 and 2008. In Sept., 2009, a tsunami caused signifcant coastal destruction in parts of American Samoa.

American Samoa, The National Park of, c.9,000 acres (3,645 hectares), American Samoa, S Pacific Ocean. Comprising areas on the islands of Ofu, Ta'u, and Tutuila, the park features the only paleotropical rain forest in the U.S. national park system, flying foxes and other tropical wildlife, numerous archaeological sites, and a coral reef. It was established in 1988.
officially Territory of American Samoa

Unincorporated U.S. territory (pop., 2007 est.: 64,400), south-central Pacific Ocean. It includes the islands of Tutuila (the largest, with over two-thirds of the territory's land area and almost all of its population), Aunuu, Rose, Swains, and the Manua group. Area: 77 sq mi (200 sq km). Capital: Fagatogo (legislative and judicial); Utulei (executive) (both part of Pago Pago urban agglom., on Tutuila). Languages: Samoan, English (both official). Religion: Christianity (mostly Protestant; also Roman Catholic, other Christians). 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 great majority of the population is of Samoan ancestry. The islands were probably inhabited by Polynesians 3,000 years ago. Dutch explorers became the first Europeans to visit the islands in 1722. Missionaries began arriving in the islands in the 1830s. The U.S. gained the right to establish a naval station at Pago Pago in 1878, and the U.S., Britain, and Germany administered a tripartite protectorate in 1889–99. In 1899 Britain and Germany renounced their claims over the eastern islands. The high chiefs ceded the eastern islands to the U.S. in 1904. American Samoa was administered by the U.S. Department of the Navy until 1951 and afterward by the Department of the Interior. Its current constitution was approved in 1967, and in 1978 the territory's first elected governor took office.

Learn more about American Samoa with a free trial on Britannica.com.

American Samoa
Continent Oceania
Subregion Oceania
Geographic coordinates
Area
 - Total
 - Water
Ranked 212th
199 km²
0 km²
Coastline 116 km
Land boundaries 0 km
Countries bordered none
Maritime claims
Highest point Lata Mountain, 964 m
Lowest point Pacific Ocean, 0 m
Longest river
Largest inland body of water
Land Use
 - Arable land  - Permanent
   crops  - Other

10 % 15 % 75 % (2005 est.)
Irrigated Land
Climate: tropical marine
Terrain: volcano, coastal plains, two coral atolls
Natural resources pumice, pumicite
Natural hazards typhoons
Environmental issues limited fresh water

See also

Search another word or see american samoaon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;