Samoa or officially called as ‘Independent State of Samoa’ is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It is located approximately midway between the islands of Hawaii and New Zealand. Samoa consists of seven islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. It comprises of two main islands of Samoa; Upolu and one of the biggest islands in Polynesia, Savaii. ‘Apia’ is the capital and the largest city. The Faleolo International airport and Apia are situated on the island of Upolu. Samoa was included in the United Nations on 15 December 1976. The island country was also called ‘Navigators Islands’ by the European explorers because of the Samoans seafaring skills. The Samoan islands have been produced by volcanic eruption, the source of which is the Samoa hotspot.

How are the climatic conditions in Samoa?

The climate in Samoa is basically tropical and sunny all year long due to its proximity to the equator; however there is no major season difference such as the summer and winter that occurs in most temperate regions. The rainy season usually starts from the month of December and lasts until the month of April. Tropical thunderstorms and cyclones occur during the monsoon. The dry season lasts from May until November with a mild temperature due to the trade winters. The summers are usually hot and wet, following with dry and cold winters.

What is the culture of Samoa?

The Polynesian inhabitants of the Samoan islands are called ‘Samoans’. ‘Fa’a Samoa’, means Samoan way is an encompassing concept that dictates how Samoans are meant to behave. Some Samoans are spiritual and religious, and have subtly adapted the dominant religion of Christianity to 'fit in' with fa'a Samo. It basically refers to the obligations that a Samoan owes their family, community and church and the individuals sense of Samoan identity. The concept of respect is most important and includes respecting the people older to you, be it ministers, doctors, politicians, teachers and family members. Children learn and understand about their culture on their own. They believe in ‘watch and learn’ from the other family members. They are never given an explanation of the nature of the wrong and are expected to figure it out themselves. Samoan people are the best representatives of the remarkable and interesting Polynesian race, and their tradition hold that these islands were the centre from which the race spread through the Pacific Islands. Children are highly motivated in this race to observe the behaviour.

The cultural influences are largely European with Scottish and Irish with some influences from Asian culture. The festivals celebrated here are, The Chinese New Year, Diwali and Pasifika. Music and film are also prevalent in the Samoan culture. The most famous for its international success is the Jane Champion’s Academy Award film ‘The piano’. The lord of the Ring’s trilogy was filmed in some parts of these Polynesian islands.

One of the best features of the Samoan culture is engraving a ritual tattoo which consists of complicated designs made for the waist to the knees. The tattoo is done using primitive tools and is a very long and a painful procedure. Both men and women can get a tattoo done. For males, the tattoo is called ‘Pe’a’ and consists of intricate and geometrical patterns. A male possessing such a tattoo is called ‘Soga’imiti’. A Samoan girl is given a ‘Malu’ which covers the area from knees to the upper thighs.

What is the economic structure of Samoa?

The industrial and the agricultural sectors employ 70% of the workforce and account for 65% of gross domestic profit. Much of this sector is associated with tourism industry, which is limited due to the intense competition from other island regions. But over the years the tourist arrivals have been increasing. Samoa produces some of the primary commodities for export: hardwood timber, copra, coconut products, root vegetables, coffee, cocoa and fish. Basically, agricultural produce contribute to 90% of the exports. A small industrial sector has been designed to provide import substitution and export processes primary commodities such as coconut cream and oil, animal feed, soap, biscuits. The Samoan cocoa beans produced in this country are of very high quality and used in New Zealand for the production of chocolates. Rubber production has been started since many years but its export value has a very minute impact on the economy.

What is the staple diet of the people of Samoa?

The people of Samoa eat a mixture of local and imported foods. Coconut is the staple food in Samoa and appears in almost all of the dishes that are consumed. Their traditional cuisines are based on taro, coconuts, breadfruit. Local produce is consumed by them which include fish, lobster, crab, chicken, pork, cabbage and root vegetables like talo and yams. There is no wide range of vegetables due to the fluctuating seasons. The imported foods consumed by them usually includes rice, canned meat ,fish, butter, jam, honey , flour, sugar , bread and aerated beverages. Families on the island usually drink tea throughout the day but have a single main meal together in the evening. Fish is also among the staple food of Samoans.

The traditional Samoan food is cooked in an umu – which is an open pit with a layer of stones, under a fire. ‘Palusami’ is their traditional dish which is coconut milk wrapped in taro leaves.

How is the healthcare system in Samoa?

Samoa Health care system is under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, Samoa. The Ministry of Health provides with the funds for improvement of the infrastructure of health care system. Samoa’s national hospital is located in the capital city of Apia. The capital city also has district hospitals and health care centres. Tertiary care is limited in the country and is mainly provided by arrangement with New Zealand health care system. The health care services provided range from basic health care checkups to the prevention of the diseases. The foreign nationals residing in the country are required to pay for the health care services and are expected to pay in cash before carrying out any treatment. Over the years, private health care sector has expanded and is confined mostly in the capital city and offer only a limited range of medical services. Samoa imports almost all the pharmaceutical requirements. The health care system is also supported by international organizations like ‘WHO’, with their help and support, the healthcare system is improving and has proved beneficial for the people staying here.

What are the unique animal species found in Samoa?

There are varieties of animal species found in this country which include sixteen seabirds that visit Samoa only during the breeding season. Sixteen of the thirty-four species of land birds are indigenous. The birds that are found nowhere else in the world include the Samoan Flycatcher, the Samoan Fantail, the Samoan Whistler, the Samoan triller, the Samoan White-eye and the Mao.

The most interesting bird found here is the tooth-billed pigeon. The most indigenous mammals here are the Rat and the flying fox. Along with them, there are two species of snake, several different lizards and gecko.

Tooth-billed pigeon

Samoan Fly catcher

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