TOP-50 interesting facts about Samoa and Samoans
Western Samoa is an island country in the Southern Hemisphere and in the heart of the Pacific Ocean that shares many similarities with its neighbours. But at the same time, it is a unique country with its own customs, history and culture. In our article we have collected 50 fascinating facts about this country and its people, which will help to form a first impression and interestingly plan your holiday in Samoa.
50 most amazing facts about Samoans and Samoa
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
1. People first appeared on this archipelago in the first millennium BC. They were members of the Lapita culture, the ancestors of many of today’s Polynesian peoples.
2. Archaeologists find numerous traces of stay on the islands of people of culture Lapita. First, these are ceramic bowls or cups covered with intricate ornaments.
3. Finds of earthen ramparts, terraces and even pyramids belong to the beginning of our era, which indicate a fairly high level of development of the ancient Samoans.
4. From the XII century the islands were part of the powerful Polynesian empire of Tonga, and the locals have long fought for their independence.
5. Europeans discovered the archipelago in 1722. This was done by the Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen. After the Dutch, the French visited the archipelago, and in 1830 English missionaries arrived here.
6. In the mid-19th century, three great powers – Germany, England and the United States – fought for possession of the archipelago. They pitted the Samoans against each other and almost unleashed a direct conflict. But the global war was prevented by a violent storm that destroyed the rival squadrons.
7. In 1899, the archipelago was divided into two parts – eastern American and Western German.
8. In 1914, during World War I, Samoa was invaded by New Zealand, an ally of Great Britain. Western Samoa remained under its rule until 1962.
9. In 1976, Western Samoa became a member of the United Nations, but New Zealand’s influence is still felt here. It is New Zealand that has the largest community of emigrants from the country.
10. Modern Samoa is a relatively small island nation of about 200,000 people, mostly ethnic Samoans.
11. The capital of the country – Apia – is the only city in the archipelago. It is home to 37,000 people. This is one fifth of the total population of the islands. Apia is predominantly built up with one and two-storey houses.
12. Samoa in the past supplied Europeans with coconuts and copra. And now it is entirely agrarian country, the share of agriculture in the economy of which exceeds 70 per cent.
13. The main export products are coconut oil and cream, noni juice, bananas, cocoa and copra.
14. Tourism is becoming an important part of the country’s economy. Already now this branch gives 25 per cent of GDP of the country and continues to develop at an accelerated rate. Every year, several hundred thousand tourists from all over the world come to the archipelago.
15. The archipelago includes two large islands – Upolu and Savaii and eight small islands, of which only two are inhabited. Most of all aborigines live on the island Apolu – 135 thousand, although this island is inferior to Savaii by area almost one and a half times.
16. The country is ruled by a monarch or paramount chief. In Samoan, his title is O le Ao O le Malo, which translates as Chief of Government.
17. The chieftaincy system has been in place since the old days, and the islanders have no intention of changing it. The country is divided into 17 districts, the Itumalo, which are governed by the chiefs of the largest villages.
18. Most of the country’s population are ethnic Samoans, a Polynesian people. Almost all of them are Christian. A small European population also lives in this paradisiacal place.
19. The state has a fairly high literacy rate (98 per cent), to which the missionaries owe much credit. It was they who were the first to create a network of public schools, where children who have reached 5 years of age study free of charge. Now, apart from private church schools, there are also public schools in the state.
20. In 2009 Samoa adopted left-hand traffic and it caused a small traffic collapse. Although there are cars here, about 20 thousand of them, most residents prefer to use bicycles.
21. All the architectural sights of the islands are located in and around Apia. The main symbol of the capital is the clock tower, which is also a memorial to the victims of the Second World War.
22. Numerous churches of Apia are also popular with tourists. Among them are the Catholic Church on the coast, the Anglican Church, and the Apia Samoa Temple complex.
23. To the attractions of the capital can be attributed and the local market Flea-market. It sells not only locally produced goods, produce and fish, but also clothing and electronics from around the world.
24. One of the most popular attractions is the house museum of Scottish writer Robert Lewis Stevenson, author of the famous novel Treasure Island. The writer lived on Upolu from 1890 until his death in 1894.
25. On the island of Savai’i there is an ancient megalith, the Tia Seu mound, which is almost 12 metres high. It is a pyramidal mound whose purpose is still unclear. It is the largest megalith in all of Polynesia.
Samoan character and customs
26. The locals are a very friendly, peaceful and sociable people whose way of life is based on the traditional principle of valealoa’i, a culture of mutual respect.
27. Samoans are very religious people, and going to church on Sunday is a holiday for them. They go to their homes every evening to pray and are not allowed to walk through their settlements.
28. But apart from the Christianity instilled in Samoans by missionaries, the natives still believe in nature spirits and remain very superstitious. They can still sniff each other when they meet to see what intentions a person has.
29. Samoans are very fond of sports and various competitions. In addition to traditional national boat races, cricket and rugby, brought to the islands by the New Zealanders during their rule, are very popular here.
30. A traditional Samoan house is called a «Fale». It is a round house without walls, covered with a roof made of pandanus or coconut leaves. The openings between the pillars are covered with mats to protect them from the wind.
31. If a Samoan invites you to enter his house, you must remove your shoes at the entrance. It is unseemly to stand in the house when the owners are sitting. One should sit in such a way that the feet of the legs are not directed at anyone of the surrounding people.
32. The notion of private life is very blurred here. All holidays are celebrated in a large circle of relatives.
33. The communal system is still preserved here. The community consists of 3–4 generations of relatives, who jointly own land and property and perform all labour-intensive works.
34. The head of the family is a man, the chief, who is called «Matai». The chief’s wife also plays an important role in the community, overseeing the order and upbringing of the children.
35. The art of making kava, a local low-alcohol drink, is included in a child’s education.
36. Like other Polynesian peoples, tattoos are an important part of Samoan culture. Not only adult men, but also women, cover themselves with tattoos. But if men have tattoos starting from the knees and extending to the shoulders, women cover only their legs with drawings.
37. Boys get their first tattoo when they are 12–13 years old, and it is drawn year after year. A tattoo is not just a decoration of a Samoan – it is a story of his life, feats and achievements, an indicator of status.
38. The national dress is the lava-lava, a type of sarong worn by both men and women here. Young girls also wear puletasi, a long dress. However, nowadays, most islanders prefer European clothes – shorts and T-shirts.
39. Traditional dances of Samoans are Siva and Sasa. Siva is a female dance in which performers tell a story. Sasa is a martial and masculine dance. It is performed to the sound of drums and accompanied by tangible slaps on various parts of the body.
40. Samoan cuisine, unlike the gastronomy of many southern countries, is not characterised by spiciness. The islanders’ favourite dishes are okaka – raw fish in a marinade of lemon juice and coconut milk, and sea – a snail delicacy sold in soda bottles.
Nature of Samoa
41. The archipelago is volcanic in origin and has many densely vegetated mountains. The highest point of the archipelago is Mount Silisili on the island of Savaii. Its height is 1857 metres.
42. The climate of the archipelago is tropical, hot and humid. It is greatly influenced by the monsoons, which divide the year into dry and wet seasons. The average temperature here is +28 degrees centigrade.
43. The fauna of the islands is rather poor, because before the arrival of Europeans there were only bats. Now there are dogs, cats, livestock and a lot of rats on the islands. But there are many exotic birds with colourful plumage.
44. The flora of the islands is more diverse and counts about 750 species of plants. These are not only palms, but also myrtles, orchids and ferns. About 30 per cent of the native plants are found nowhere else in the world.
45. Samoa is rich in natural attractions. First of all, these are beaches surrounded by a wall of coral reefs. One of the most beautiful is considered to be Lalomanu Beach, which is an hour’s drive from Apia.
46. Another attraction of the islands are the numerous, very picturesque waterfalls. Both islands have them. On Upolu they are the Fouilisia, Sapoaga, and Tigitogiga waterfalls, and on Savai’i they are Mu Pagoa and Afu A’aau.
47. Upolu is home to the first national park in the South Pacific, O-le-Pupu-Pue National Park. It is a reserve of almost 3,000 hectares with several hiking trails. There are many waterfalls and tropical vegetation, and there are birds and bats.
48. The Peapea lava cave on Savaii is filled with eerie beauty. It is a 500 metre long tunnel tunnelled into the rocks by molten lava during an eruption.
49. Savai’i is also home to the amazing Alofaaga geysers. These are hollow volcanic tubes near the ocean coast, from which periodically erupt huge columns of water.
50. The Tu-Sua chute is also a favourite place for tourists. This is a small lake with steep rocky shores, which underground communicates with the ocean. The water here is always crystal clear and cool.
Friends, if you know any more interesting facts about Samoans and Samoa, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many people would love to learn something new. We will be very grateful to you!