What Are The Differences Between Samoa And American Samoa?

Apia, the capital of Samoa.
Apia, the capital of Samoa.

American Samoa and Samoa are two islands that are located in the archipelago of the Samoan Islands in the central region of the South Pacific. As they are islands, the Samoan Islands are not close to any countries. Tonga is the closest state with the distance between the two being about 330 miles. The furthest region surrounding the islands is Hawaii with the distance being 2,500 miles. Other surrounding countries are New Zealand (1,800 miles) and Fiji (500 miles). Covering an area of about 1,170 square miles, the Samoan Islands are part of Polynesia and Oceania. The two jurisdictions of Samoa are divided by a stretch of ocean that has a length of about 40 miles. In total, the Samoan Islands have a population of about 250,000 people, which is a population that shares certain cultural aspects.

Differences between Samoa and American Samoa


Politically, the two jurisdictions are quite different. Samoa, which is officially known as the Independent State of Samoa, is an independent country that lies on the western side of the Samoan Islands. The country has been colonized by both Germany and New Zealand in the past before gaining independence on January 1, 1962. In the past, between 1900 and 1914, the country went by the name German Samoa while it was also known as Western Samoa up until 1997. With an area of about 1,093 square miles and a population of about 185,000 people, Apia is the capital city while the Samoan tala is the currency.

On the other hand, American Samoa is a territory of the United States. The unincorporated territory, which lies on the eastern side of the Samoan Islands, has a smaller area of only 77 square miles and a population of around 65,000 people. Since it is a territory of the US, the dollar is the currency of the territory. The capital city, which is also the largest, is Pago Pago.

Location and Number of islands

The country of Samoa lies on the Samoan Islands. In comparison, some islands of American Samoa, such as the Swains Island on the Tokelau Islands, are not situated within the confines of the Samoan Islands. Naturally, since it has a larger area, Samoa has more islands compared to American Samoa. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and Savai'i, which have areas of about 434 and 654 square miles respectively. Other islands include Manono, Apolima, Fanuatapu, and Namua.

On the other hand, American Samoa has five main islands with the largest, which has an area of about 54.9 square miles, being Tutuila. Aside from the five main islands, American Samoa has two additional coral atolls.

Other Differences

Other minor differences are mostly brought about by the westernization in American Samoa. For example, vehicles in American Samoa are driven on the right similar to the US while Samoans drive on the left hand just like New Zealand and Australia. Another difference is in the time zones the countries use. American Samoa is inside the international time zone while Samoa is not. This difference means that American Samoa is 11 hours behind GMT while Samoa is ahead of GMT by 13 hours.


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