American Samoa is the easternmost part of the Samoa archipelago in the South Pacific about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. It is an autonomous territory under the United States.
The islands have been inhabited for over 3,000 years, and were “discovered” by European explorers in the 18th century. International disputes over the area in the late 19th century were resolved by a treaty in 1899 between the United States and Germany on the division of the Samoa Islands. The US part includes the main island of Tutuila with the capital Pago Pago, the nearby Aunu’u, the Manu’a archipelago as well as the remote Rose Atoll and Swains Island.. The rest is now the independent island state of Samoa.
On the history of the area before 1900, see Samoa.
According to Zipcodesexplorer, the vast majority of Samoan live on the coast, and many combine agriculture with coastal fishing and coral reef gathering. Cocoa and copra are grown for export, but fishing and light industry are of increasing importance.
As in other Polynesian societies, obesity and diabetes have developed into an epidemic in Samoa. It is estimated that 75% of the adult male population is overweight. The Samoans’ strong physique has meant that they are valued athletes in professional sports such as sumo wrestling, rugby and American football.
1000 BCE – The islands were populated in connection with the spread of the Polynesian people. In prehistoric times, there were regular contacts to Fiji, Tongaand other surrounding islands, and for a long period, probably between 950 and 1250 AD, Samoa was under Tongan control.
1640s – The Dutchman Abel Tasman visited New Zealand and the Tonga Islands, but it was especially James Cook’s three voyages 1768-79 that placed the Polynesian islands on the world map and involved their peoples in global history.
1776 – The islands are discovered by European explorers led by the French scientist Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who became famous for his expeditions to the Falkland Islands and his exploration of the Pacific Ocean.
19th century – Polynesia’s reputation was established as an earthly paradise, inhabited by beautiful and natural people, but at the same time societies changed drastically economically, socially and culturally by prominent merchants, Christian missionaries, laborers and colonists.
1830 – From 1722 there was irregular contact with Europeans until the missionary John Williams in 1830 laid the foundations for the introduction of Christianity.
1835 – Many Englishmen arrive in Samoa, setting up a missionary station.
1894 – The Scottish author who wrote his probably most famous novels, Treasure Island (1883) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), Robert Louis Stevenson, had spent his last 4 years in the village of Vailima. He had been suffering from the disease tuberculosis all his life, since childhood. On December 3, he suddenly collapsed, and died within a few hours of a cerebral hemorrhage. The Samoan insisted on keeping watch over the deceased all night, carrying him on their shoulders to nearby Mount Vaea, where they buried him in a place overlooking the sea. His home today is a national museum.
1899 – International rivalry in the latter part of the 19th century ends with a treaty in which Germany and the United States divide the Samoa Islands, giving Germany the western islands and the United States the eastern ones. After the First World War, the islands became a League of Nations mandate, administered by New Zealand. Britain left Samoa in return for Tonga and the Solomon Islands.
1900 – The colony was formed in 1900, when Samoa was divided between the United States and Germany. The United States’ interest in eastern Samoa was mainly due to the deep-water port of Pago Pago, where in 1872 the United States had entered into an agreement to establish a naval base.
1929 – US Congress ratifies the annexation of eastern Samoa, allowing the colony to be ruled by the US Navy.
1951 – The area passes to civilian rule under the Interior Ministry, locally represented by a governor.
1960 – The 1960 Constitution establishes a Legislative Assembly with a Senate, consisting of 18 matai (local leaders), elected according to traditional rules, and the House of Representatives with 20 elected members.
1962 – Western Samoa ( Samoa in Sisifo in Samoan) becomes independent on January 1, becoming the first Polynesian nation to gain independence in the 20th century.
1999 – Luagalau Levaula Kamu, a lawyer and Minister of Public Works in Samoa, was fatally wounded during the 20th anniversary of the Human Rights Protection Party. The perpetrator was the 34-year-old son of the former Minister of Public Works, Leafa Vitale. The son, Eletise Leafa Vitale, along with Communications Minister Toi Aukuso, had planned to assassinate Kamu, who died on July 16. Vitale pleaded guilty to the murder, and was sentenced to death on August 6. However, his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the head of state. Read more about the trial here.
2001 – Samoa’s population reaches 171,000.
2004 – A trade was made between Samoa and a team of researchers from UC Berkeley, where they were given permission to clone a promising anti-AIDS drug called prostratin, from the bark of the mammalian tree.
2005 – US President Bush declares American Samoa a disaster area on February 18 after being ravaged by Category 5 cyclone Olaf, which caused severe damage everywhere. No one lost their lives or were seriously injured from the 10th to the 20th of February, when the cyclone was dissolved again.
2007 – Samoa’s head of state, Malietoa Tanumafili II, dies on May 11, aged 94, as the oldest national leader in the world since 1963. He was often honored for providing the stability that Samoa enjoyed before independence.
2009 – In September, Samoa switched to left-hand traffic. This was done to make it easier for the many Samoan people living in New Zealand and Australia to send their used cars to their home country.
On September 29, the Samoa Islands, which at that time were populated with 180,000 people, and the territory of American Samoa, with 65,000 people, were hit by an earthquake 194 km south of the islands. Four tsunami waves of 4-6 meters hit the coast, reaching 1.5 km inland. At least 142 people were killed in Samoa and at least 32 in American Samoa, as well as several missing people. The following year, it was indicated by researchers that 2 major earthquakes from 8-8.3 on the Richter scale caused the tsunami.