The United States acquired Samoa in 1899 when Samoa was divided into two territories in which the United States received the eastern islands and Germany the western islands, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. It was formally ceded to the United States by the chiefs of the island in later years.
The U.S. territory of Samoa is now known as American Samoa and is an unincorporated territory to the United States. The western islands of Samoa, better known as Western Samoa, were under the rule of the German government until it was overtaken by New Zealand during World War I. Western Samoa was under the rule of New Zealand until it declared its independence as its own country in 1962, according to the Office of the Historian website.
Western Samoa was officially recognized as its own independent country on Jan. 1, 1962, by President John F. Kennedy, and in 1997, the country was renamed the Independent State of Samoa as noted on the Samoa.travel website. American Samoa citizens are U.S nationals and can immigrate to the United States and live within its borders. Additionally, as of January 2015, there is a passport requirement, but no visa needed for American visitors to see American Samoa, according to Lonelyplanet.com.