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Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:09 PM

Samoa is a group of volcanic islands in the heart of the South Pacific. Independent or “Western”Samoa lies halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand and just to the west of American Samoa. Samoa consists primarily of two major islands, Upolu and Savaii, which together make up an area of approximately 2,680 sq. km (115 sq. miles). The capital, Apia, sits on the northern coast of Upolu. Savaii is a few kilometers to the west of Upolu and slightly larger. The only other inhabited islands Manono and Apolima, are two small land masses in the Apolima Strait, which separates Upolu and Savaii. Many tiny uninhabited islands and a few lonely atolls comprise the remainder of the country.

Samoa's proximity to the Equator results in hot and humid conditions throughout most of the year. There are two distinct seasons, the dry season (winter) between May and October and the wet season (summer) between November and April. The average annual temperature is 26.5 °C in coastal areas, with a decrease in temperature as the land rises inland. Southeasterly trade winds make April to October the more pleasant months. Samoa lies in the cyclone belt and is periodically buffeted and bruised by cyclones, the majority of which occur between November and April.

Lush forests of predominantly broadleaf evergreens, vines, ferns, and mosses cover the upland areas of the islands. The mountains of Upolu and Savaii are host to temperate forest vegetation, such as tree ferns, wild coleus and epiphytic plants (mosses and other nonparasitic creepers) and grasses. Banyan trees dominate the landscape at higher elevations. The tropical rainforests are both a source of food as well as a rich resource for natural medicine. Traditional healers use 75 plant species to treat up to 200 different types of diseases. Scrubland, marshes, pandanus forests and mangrove swamps cover the remainder of the island.

Samoa's remoteness has limited the diversity of its fauna. Apart from two species of flying fox, the small sheath-tailed bat and the Polynesian bat, mammals are limited to the marine varieties. Whales (particularly pilot whales), dolphins and porpoises, migrate north and south through Samoa, depending on the season. Skinks (“pili”) and geckos (“mo'o”) proliferate, and the green turtle and endangered hawksbill turtle are rare visitors. Native doves and pigeons are found throughout the islands. The beaches and reefs of Samoa are homes to numerous species of shellfish, starfish and crustaceans, together with a brilliant array of tropical fish. Some 900 species of fish and 200 species of coral have been documented.

Deforestation poses a major environmental threat. Agricultural change is a culprit although logging has played its part in disturbing the ecosystem. The practice of fishing with explosives, over fishing, and an increase in the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish, pose threats to the marine environment. The Government of Samoa is making a concerted effort to develop ecologically friendly industries and conserve the beauty and biological diversity of the rain forests that cover much of the uplands.

Population Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:09 PM

Approximately, 180,000 persons live in Samoa. The official language is Samoan; however, most people speak English, especially in the capital city of Apia. The Samoans are the second-largest Polynesian group in the Pacific behind the Maoris of New Zealand.

Apia is the only major population center in Samoa. Most people live in some 400 coastal villages, with populations ranging from 100 to more than 2,000. About 3,200 foreign nationals live in Samoa.

Samoan culture and way of life (“fa'a Samoa”) survives despite globalization. The extended family (“aiga”) is very close knit within the village community, and the chiefs (““matai”) are well respected and honored. A village council is composed of a high chief and extended family chiefs who make the laws for each village. In addition to representing the family in a village, the chief is responsible for the general welfare of the family and directs the use of land and other assets. Separate women's committees also have strong influence in village affairs.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:09 PM

The national government operates under a British-based (Westminster) parliamentary system that has been revised to accommodate local custom and some Christian principles. The head of state, Malietoa Tanumafili II, was one of the two initial heads of state designated to hold the title for life when the country gained its independence. Although the constitution provides for the head of state to be elected by the parliament or legislature every 5 years, the provision will not take effect until after Malietoa Tanumafili II leaves office.

Although Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) became independent in January 1962, it did not adopt universal suffrage until 1990. One must still be a “matai” (chief) to run for office. There are over 25,000 registered matais in Samoa, but only 5% of them are women. Most Samoans support the matai system. Samoans owe respect and obedience to their matai in family and communal affairs, and the matai in turn have well-defined responsibilities toward their family groups. If these responsibilities are not met, the matai can be removed. The position of the head of state, known as the (“O le Ao o le Malo”) is mostly titular. However, the holder has the power to appoint or remove the Prime Minister and to grant pardons. The legislature must approve all official acts. The 49-seat “fono” is made up of 47 members of parliament headed by a speaker. The remaining two seats are held by members elected by a small body of naturalized Samoans and, in theory, represent the interest of ethnic Europeans and Chinese who are citizens of independent Samoa but are not members of any Royal Family.

There are currently two major political parties represented in the legislature—the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) under Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and the opposition Samoan National Development Party (SNDP) led by Le Mamea Ropati. The Samoan Progressive Conservative Party (SPCP), the Samoa All Peoples Party (SAPP) and the Samoa Liberal Party (SLP), although small, also participated in the March 2001 elections.

The judicial branch of government comprises four courts—the Supreme Court, the Magistrate’s Court, the Lands and Titles Court, and the Court of Appeals. Court proceedings are held in English, with simultaneous translation into Samoan. Although the legal system is modeled on Britain’s, Samoan tradition is also considered in cases where it becomes an issue. Local governments include administrative districts that oversees the operation of educational and medical facilities, agricultural offices, and police.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:09 PM

Samoa’s high literacy rates and almost universal primary schooling reflect long years of community and government cooperation in education. Churches also provide basic primary education. Education is compulsory but not free. Samoa is faced with declining primary school enrollment (from 87% in 1991 to 83% in 1993), and high dropout rates, 16% after primary level.

The government is giving priority to the expansion of tertiary schooling opportunities to spread access to education more equitably and to address the shortage of technical expertise in the workforce. Major initiatives include new facilities for the National University of Samoa. Opened in 1995, the school has 1,000 students and offers a bachelor’s degree. Other opportunities for tertiary study are available through the University of the South Pacific School (USP) of Agriculture. The USP has an Extension center that offers courses by distance education. Samoan Polytechnic offers a 2-year technical program.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:11 PM

The Samoan economy is dependent upon agricultural exports, tourism, and capital flows from abroad. Long-run development depends upon upgrading the tourist infrastructure, attracting foreign investment, and further diversification of the economy.

Two major cyclones hit Samoa at the beginning of the 1990s. Cyclone Ofa left an estimated 10,000 islanders homeless in February 1990. Cyclone Val caused 13 deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in December 1991. As a result, GDP declined by nearly 50% from 1989 to 1991. These experiences and Samoa's position as a low-lying island state punctuate its concern about global climate change.

Further economic problems occurred in 1994 with an outbreak of taro leaf blight and the near collapse of the national airline Polynesian. Taro, a root crop was Samoa's largest export, generating more than half of all export revenue in 1993. A fungal blight decimated the plants, and each year since 1994 taro exports have accounted for less than 1% of export revenue. Polynesian Airlines' financial crisis in 1994 disrupted the tourist industry and eventually required a government bailout.

The government responded to these shocks with a major program of road building and post-cyclone infrastructure repair. Economic reforms were stepped up, including the liberalization of exchange controls. GDP growth rebounded to over 6% in both 1995 and 1996 before slowing again at the end of the decade.

The service sector accounts for more than half of GDP and employs about 30% of the labor force. Tourism is the largest-single activity, more than doubling in visitor numbers and revenue over the last decade. More than 85,000 visitors came to Samoa in 1999, contributing over $40 million to the local economy. One-third came from American Samoa, 28% from New Zealand and 11% from the U.S. Arrivals increased in 2000, some of the growth attributable to visitors avoiding political strife in neighboring Fiji.

The primary sector (agriculture, forestry, and fishing) employs nearly two-thirds of the labor force and produces 17% of GDP. Important products include coconuts and fish. Industry accounts for over one-quarter of GDP while employing less that 6% of the workforce. The largest industrial venture is Yazaki Samoa, a Japanese-owned company processing automotive components for export to Australia under a confessional market-access arrangement. The Yazaki plant employs more than 2,000 workers and makes up over 20% of the manufacturing sector's total output. Net receipts amount to between $5 million and $10 million annually, although shipments from Yazaki are counted as services (export processing) and, therefore, do not officially appear as merchandise exports.

New Zealand is Samoa's principal trading partner, typically providing between 35% and 40% of import and purchasing 45%-50% of exports. Australia, American Samoa, the U.S., and Fiji also are important partners. Samoa's principal exports are coconut products and fish. Its main imports are food and beverages, industrial supplies, and fuels.

The collapse of taro exports in 1994 had the unintended effect of modestly diversifying Samoa's export products and markets. Prior to the taro leaf blight, Samoa's exports consisted of taro ($3.7 million), coconut cream ($1.8 million), and "other" ($1.3 million). Ninety percent of exports went to the Pacific region, and only 1% went to Europe. Forced to look for alternatives to taro, Samoa's exporters have dramatically increased the production of copra, coconut oil, and fish. These three products, which combined to produce export revenue of less than $100,000 in 1993, now account for over $11 million. There also has been a relative shift from Pacific markets to European ones, which now receive nearly 15% of Samoa's exports. Samoa's exports are still concentrated in coconut products ($7.8 million worth of copra, copra meal, coconut oil, and coconut cream) and fish ($5 million) but are at least somewhat more diverse than before.

The more than 60,000 Samoans who live overseas provide annual direct remittances of approximately $40 million and account for more than half of all tourist visits. In addition to the expatriate community, Samoa also receives roughly $25 million annually in official development assistance from sources led by Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. These three sources of revenue—tourism, private transfers, and official transfers—allow Samoa to cover its persistently large trade deficit.


Automobiles Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:11 PM

Most Embassy personnel bring a vehicle to post. Samoa is a beautiful country with beaches, mountains and valleys that can be explored safely. Roads are well kept on the two main islands of Upolu and Savaii. There are no vehicles on the other islands of Samoa. A standard economy car is adequate but a sport-utility vehicle is ideal for travel in the countryside and is the choice for travel in the capital city by local government officials.

Vehicle break-ins are not common in Samoa, and car alarms generally are not used. Personnel with diplomatic privileges may import or purchase automobiles in Samoa duty free. Employees who wish to purchase vehicles locally have the option of purchasing from two local car dealerships who deal in Toyota or Mitsubishi vehicles. There are several rental car companies that offer decent vehicles at about the same prices as in the U.S.

Apia traffic can be congested but rush hours are brief. There is one road to Apia toward either the eastern or western side of the island and one road to travel across the center of Upolu to the south side of the island. In Savaii, there is one road that travels around the entire coast of the island. A trip around Upolu can take approximately 4 hours traveling at the maximum legal speed of about 30-mph. To travel around scenic Savaii takes a little less time. Unleaded, diesel and kerosene fuels are available and tend to run about 25% above current U.S. fuel cost at time of purchase. Embassy personnel can purchase fuel duty free from local establishments where accounts are in place.

The Embassy will assist in obtaining drivers licenses, license plates, and automobile insurance, but coverage is limited. Supplemental policies are available through some U.S. based providers.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:12 PM

Public transportation is limited, and a personal vehicle is necessary. Taxi service for travel within Apia is inexpensive but not always available. Local buses do not meet U.S. standards and are extremely crowded.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:12 PM

There is both air and ferry service to Savaii. Flights are available on Polynesian Airlines, and there is a ferry that crosses the Apolima Strait in about an hour from the Mulifanua Wharf on Upolu Island. The ferry allows for the option of taking your own vehicle at a cost of about US$40. The cost of round-trip airfare to Savaii from Upolu is approximately US$30. There are also inexpensive daily flights, and a ferry that travels weekly to Pago Pago, American Samoa.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:13 PM

Telephones are installed in all Embassy housing. Service is generally good but expensive. The cost of a call to the U.S. from Samoa is set at ST$4.50 per minute (about US$1.40 per minute). Fax machines and computers with Internet and E-mail access are available at the Embassy and at other places in town.

Internet Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:13 PM

Several companies offer Internet services for personal home use. Service is steadily improving. Cost is significantly above U.S. rates.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:14 PM

Both the international mail and the pouch usually take about 2 weeks. The usual restriction on pouch service will apply, e.g., no glass, liquid, or aerosol containers; no mail (other than returned catalog merchandise from employees to the U.S.) larger than a videotape cassette or more than 2 pounds; not more than 24 inches in length and not more than 62 inches width and girth combined; no mailing tubes longer than 32 inches; and a maximum weight of 40 pounds.

There are five ways to receive mail in Samoa: international mail, the diplomatic pouch, the APO, or through DHL or FedEx. Pouch and APO mail is couriered to Auckland once a week. The local post office is generally reliable, but packages have been known to disappear, especially packages coming to Samoa. All private packages must be cleared through customs.

U.S. Embassy Apia U.S. Embassy Dept. of State 5th Floor John Williams Bldg 4400 Apia Place Private Bag, 92022 Washington, D.C. 20521-4400 Tamaligi Apia, Samoa U.S. Embassy Apia P.O. Box 3430 Apia, Samoa 0815

Radio and TV Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:16 PM

Samoa has one television station that broadcasts a half-hour, mixed Samoan and English news nightly. New Zealand news is also beamed in via satellite. In July 2001, the BBC news began broadcasting a few hours a day. Nightly, a B-rated English movie is shown along with various sitcoms imported from the U.S. and New Zealand. Local television operates on the European PAL system; videotapes available locally are made for the same system; however, American NTSC videos are also readily available for rent. In order to enjoy programming and videotapes available in Samoa, as well as American videotapes, it is necessary to have a multisystem TV/VCR that can handle both PAL and U.S. NTSC systems.

There are several local radio stations on both AM and FM. Radio Pacific International broadcasts Pacific regional as well as international news.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:17 PM

A few popular American magazines are available along with Australian and New Zealand publications. There are several local newspapers that are published in both English and Samoan.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:18 PM

The Embassy relies upon local medical staff. Local pharmacies have limited supply of medicines. Employees should bring with them into country all needed prescription and nonprescription medicines and supplies for both routine and chronic medical conditions.

The first medical challenge for newcomers is acclimatization to Samoa's hot and humid weather. It is common to become easily dehydrated in this environment.

The most common illnesses found in Samoa are upper respiratory infections, skin infections (from cuts), and influenza. Communicable diseases include tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and typhoid fever. Mosquito-borne dengue is not common but an outbreak has been known to occur during rainy seasons. This is not hemmorrhagic dengue. There have been no reported cases of Malaria. Insect repellant is essential.

All water for consumption should be filtered and boiled. Fruits and vegetables should be peeled, cooked, or disinfected by soaking in a solution of bleach (available locally) and water.

Public medical, dental, diagnostic and hospital facilities in Samoa do not meet Western standards. Most are overcrowded, have a limited stock of medicines, and are poorly maintained. Limited laboratory tests and X-ray services are available. A new private medical facility, Medcen Hospital, opened in 1998, is better equipped than the public hospital, but patients requiring medical assistance other than basic services are evacuated to New Zealand or the U.S. Employees and their dependents should have all necessary dental work done before arrival at post. In case of dental emergencies, evacuation may be authorized.

Community Health Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:18 PM

Two hospitals, one public and one private, serve the 100,000 residents who live on Upolu Island. There are several dispensaries which are village based. Overall health care is very limited, but the population is relatively healthy. Dengue fever is common and there have been outbreaks about every 3 years.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:19 PM

Travelers are advised to take standard inoculations prior to travel. Typhoid vaccination is advised. There is no malaria or rabies in Samoa.

American Embassy - Apia

Post City Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:19 PM

The capital of Apia is a clean, attractive, and relatively safe city of some 30,000 people. The main street in the capital, Beach Road, runs parallel with the Apia Harbor. Just opposite the Apia Harbor is the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve where you can find some of the best snorkeling in the South Pacific. The city is small with 5-mile radius.

The small village of Tauese sits in the center of Apia on Beach Road and comes alive at night, as its restaurants and cafes open and fill up with locals and foreign nationals. Traditional markets can be found only blocks away, offering food items, local handicrafts, clothing, and other items.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:23 PM

The U.S. Embassy in Apia consists of one American Deputy Chief of Mission who reports to the Ambassador, resident in New Zealand. Peace Corps has two directors, one Country Director and one Director for the Pacific Regional Initiative. The Embassy has been in existence since 1988. The first Peace Corps volunteers arrived in 1970. At the time, the sole diplomatic presence was a Consular Agency.

The Chancery is located on the fifth floor of the John Williams Building, Beach Road. Phone number (685) 21631 or 22696. The Chancery is scheduled to relocate in 2003. The Embassy is supported by Embassy Wellington and Consulate General Auckland for most functions. A Security Assistance Office based in Wellington also administers Apia's program. Auckland based Foreign Commercial Services provide commercial support.

The Peace Corps Office, supporting some 70 Peace Corps volunteers, includes three direct-hire Americans and 35 foreign national employees. The focus of the Peace Corps in Apia is moving from basic education to business administration and technical training.

The Embassy work schedule is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:24 PM

Newcomers usually move directly into permanent housing. If the house is not ready, Aggie Grey's hotel is two blocks from the U.S. Embassy.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

The DCM is housed in a U.S. Government-owned home, which sits on 2 acres about 5 miles from downtown Apia. However, the home was vacated in February 2001 to accommodate a planned renovation. That has not taken place, and plans for the house have been postponed indefinitely. The DCM currently is housed in a furnished rental home some 6 miles from the Embassy.

Furnishings Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Furniture is also provided, including carpets, lamps, and standard items for the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms. All basic necessities are provided as well, such as refrigerator, and freezer, oven, dishwasher, microwave, and washer and dryer.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:41 PM

The electrical current at both the Chancery and residence is 220 volts. Telephone service is reliable, but Internet service is not. Water supply is subject to occasional cutoffs. Electricity in increasingly unreliable in both the residence and Chancery. The Chancery does not have a generator or a water tank. The U.S. Government-owned residence has an above groundwater tank. However, the temporary residence does not. The temporary residence also does not have a generator. There is a generator available at times through a connection to the owner and neighbors' home. Both the Embassy and residence use a delivered bottled water supply.

Food Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:45 PM

There is no commissary in Apia. Employees receive a consumables allowance. There are two main open-air markets offering local produce, and food items. There are two small “U.S. style” grocery stores, which offer both local goods and imported items, mostly vegetable, meat, and dairy products imported from New Zealand. There are numerous corner stores throughout Samoa, packed with everything from food items to batteries. There are also bakeries offering fresh baked bread and cake. There is one McDonalds in Apia and a Kentucky Fried Chicken is scheduled to open this year.

Local fresh roduce, although limited in variety, is inexpensive and easily obtained from corner stores and the downtown markets. Some of the produce is seasonal, however, and there are occasional absences of some items. Almost always available are onions, potatoes, Chinese cabbages (bok choi), tomatoes, cabbage, hot pepper, garlic, and ginger. More seasonal are green beans, eggplant, pepper and avocados. Bananas, papaya, and citrus fruits are available throughout the year, but other fresh fruits are seasonal, including mangoes and pineapples. There are several local stores that import fresh fruits from New Zealand like pears, apples, and kiwi. Fresh beef and pork are also imported from New Zealand while frozen chicken is imported from the U.S. and is available for sale at most markets and stores.

Staples such as flour (white only), rice, sugar, alt/pepper, and vegetable and peanut oils are always on the shelves and quite reasonable. Good coffee and chocolates can be found at a few stores in Apia that specialize in imported goods. A limited supply of New Zealand and Australian wines are readily available throughout the country at various outlets.

U.S. imports are few, mainly from American Samoa. A large “Cost You Less,” warehouse-type grocery store in neighboring Pago Pago will ship goods. However, the freight cost is significant.

Clothing Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:49 PM

Most events in Samoa stipulate casual dress. Formal attire is needed for designated government events and church services. Business/casual dress is fine for the work place. Men will find that short-sleeve shirts and long pants are most acceptable for any occasion. Women usually wear dresses below the knees with sleeves or a shawl. Pantssuits are also common. Shorts are acceptable but not for traditional occasions or rural areas where older Samoans are present.

Keep in mind the heat and humidity (90% most days) factors when choosing what to bring. Sandals or open style shoes are the most sensible types of footwear. Quality and sizes of shoes are available locally. Clothing is more readily available, but some 20%-50% more costly than similar summer wear in the U.S. Many of the locals wear flip-flops (jandals thongs), and these are available for just a few dollars at most stores.

Men Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:49 PM

Long pants and short-sleeve shirts are standard business wear. A jacket and tie are required for formal occasions and meetings with Samoan Government ministers.

Women Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:49 PM

Long (below the knee) dresses and skirts are general business attire. Pants suits also are acceptable.

Children Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:49 PM

No requirements for boys or girls. Shorts and tee shirts are appropriate for most occasions. All schoolchildren wear uiforms.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:50 PM

Most services in Samoa are quite basic and have few competitors. Bicycle and car repair is available, but parts often must be ordered from New Zealand or the U.S. Laundry services are available, and there is one drycleaner. A few outlets offer basic color print film developing including Advantix/APS services At least one of these is able to output from digital media. There is no shoe repair. Hair salons and beauty services are limited to about 3-4 outlets. Barbers are basic as well. Experience of the stylist varies, and they may not be familiar with different hair types.

Basic Services Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:48 PM

Utility services tend to be about twice as costly as in the mainland U.S. Electricity is somewhat unreliable and many businesses have generators. Water cutoffs are frequent. The telephone system is quite old and the government announced in August 2002 plans to revamp the entire system. Internet service is becoming more reliable. Postal service is generally good. International mail may take up to two-three weeks to reach the east coast of the U.S.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:50 PM

Most household employees are full-time domestic help. Duties and working hours are negotiated individually with the employee. Salaries range from US$200-$400 a month.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:50 PM

Most Samoans are devout Christians. Religion is a big part of Samoan life, and Sunday services is the most important event in the week. Absolute fealty to, and respect for, the church leader is a must, as is the strict observance of religious rules. There are a number of houses of worship that offer services in English, including, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Bahai, Latter-day Saints and Assembly of God.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:50 PM All school tuition fees in Apia are covered by the Department's education allowance. There is no International School.

Robert Louis Stevenson School (RLS) is a primary and secondary school. It is accredited by the Australian and New Zealand systems but has no U.S. accreditation. RLS has an enrollment of about 500 students with a diverse mix of Samoan and expatriate students and faculty. The school year runs from late January through early December with two-week, semester breaks every 10 weeks. RLS requires uniforms. There is bus service only from town center to school. Students must make private arrangements from home.

Away From Post Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM Employees assigned to Apia are eligible for away-from-post educational allowance for children in grades 6 to 12.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

There are no local schools that have resources for children with special learning needs.

Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:34 PM

Samoa has plenty of outdoor activities to offer visitors, including exploring the rain forest, snorkeling in the lagoon, surfing, diving, and deep sea fishing. There are also rowing and hiking clubs.

Sports Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:34 PM

There are a number of gyms in Apia that offer memberships with a monthly or per visit charge that offer circuit training equipment, free weights, and aerobic style classes. None of these facilities is air-conditioned. Monthly rate runs about $10, and per visit rate is less than $2. The Apia Park Compound is government run and offers several activities, including lawn bowling, an outdoor clay track, rugby stadium and tennis courts. There is no charge for use of these facilities. Tennis courts can also be found on the grounds of the Hotel Insel Fehmarn and can be used for a minimal fee.

Rugby is the most popular sport played in Samoa, and you will see youth playing in the village fields on a daily basis. The Manu Samoa is the national rugby team of Samoa, and they are highly ranked internationally. There are also several soccer clubs that are open for membership from any who wishes to join.

It is safe for male and female joggers to run anywhere in the town area without fear of harassment. A popular jogging/walking track is along the sea wall on Beach Road in Apia.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:34 PM

The coral reef around Samoa offers excellent snorkeling, although a good percentage of the coral was destroyed during the cyclones of 1990 and 1991. There are still many sites that have yet to be explored and others that are rarely visited. In Apia, the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve offers snorkeling and off-shore diving within close reach of the city center. Entrance fee to the park is less than $1. Fishing is also excellent, including tuna, king fish, jackfish, and marlin.

There are many beaches to choose from, each boasting of a unique beauty and tranquil setting. Options exist on the north, south, east and west of both Upolu and Savaii Islands as well as on Manono Island and the tiny island of Namua. In most areas, there are families who entertain tourists with budget beach cabana-type ("fale") accommodations. The simple, open-air beach fales are suited to the climate and provide basic accommodation on many beaches. Prices range from $20-$40 per night, including meals. Toilet and showering facilities are usually adequate but not private.

Travel by road is good, although there are lots of potholes and still some unpaved roads. It is best to use a four-wheel-drive vehicle to travel in the rural areas.

Entertainment Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:34 PM

There are several cinemas in Apia, but only one that offers a U.S.-style, big screen. Most families rely on VCRs and DVD players and make use of the many rental stores in town. All major hotels offer weekly cultural shows called "Fiafia nights" that include traditional dancing and singing.

There are decent restaurants in Apia but for fine cuisine you must dine at one of the major hotels. Fish and chips (fries), as well as burgers and fried chicken are available at most small takeouts on just about every corner of Apia. Vailima, the national beer is also available at most convenience stores throughout the country. All bars and nightclubs in Samoa close at 12 am.

Social Activities Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:34 PM

The expatriate community mixes well and often with the Samoan community. Much of the focus is on at-home entertaining. Businesses and the diplomatic corps offer cocktail receptions frequently. Night life is limited. Night clubs close at midnight, mandated by the government. There is no theatre. Musical events are limited to "fia fia" nights; traditional dance is hosted at various hotels.

Official Functions Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:35 PM

Official functions are numerous. The diplomatic corps along with the eight resident United Nations agencies host cocktail receptions almost weekly. The Samoan Government also hosts dinners and cocktail receptions generally quarterly. Large annual events include the "Teuila" Tourism Festival, which is the first week of September; a luncheon, to which the diplomatic corps is invited to celebrate the Head of State's birthday, January 4, and National Day ceremonies on June 1.

Special Information Last Updated: 9/3/2003 1:54 PM

Post Orientation Program

The DCM and the Peace Corps director, and the Associate Peace Corps director are the sole USG employees on the island. There is no formal post orientation program. However, the FSN staff of both agencies provide a gcomprehensive overview of Samoa and assistance in settling in. Embassy provides a detailed Visitor's guide to Samoa with an overview of consular services, political/economic background, and recreational sites.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 8/25/2003 12:58 AM

No American carriers serve Samoa directly. Transfers to a foreign carrier for direct service to Samoa are available in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Auckland, Sydney, and Suva. Official arrivals will be met at the Faleolo International Airport and assisted through immigration and customs.

For airfreight shipments, containers should be of a size acceptable to a passenger aircraft for shipment. This size may vary according to the airline. Containers should be marked:

U.S. Embassy (your name) Apia SAMOA Telephone: (685) 21631 or 22696

Seafreight should be routed directly to Apia.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 8/25/2003 9:44 AM

Employees assigned to the Embassy are entitled to full duty-free privileges for the duration of their tour. There are no restrictions on items to be imported, except that vehicles cannot be right-hand drive or more than 10 years old.

Passage Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Each traveler must have a valid diplomatic or official passport, as well as a valid Samoan visa. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens who hold a valid round-trip ticket and do not plan to stay for more than 30 days. Although visas may be issued at the airport under special circumstances and with advance notification in writing, this is not a customary procedure and should not be assumed as a privilege granted to travelers.

Pets Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:37 PM

There are no quarantine restrictions, but all pets must have an up-to-date health certificate, including evidence of rabies vaccinations for warm-blooded pets, especially dogs and cats. Only basic veterinarian services are available in Samoa. It is highly recommended that you have your pets examined and given all needed vaccinations before coming to post, and that you bring all pet supplies, including medicine with you. Dog and cat foods are available locally.

Make sure before you leave for Samoa that you have all necessary paperwork to bring pets back to the U.S., particularly in the case of parrots and other birds protected by the CITIES, contact Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:38 PM

Both the Samoa Government and Embassy policy forbid the importation of personal firearms. The Samoa Government also prohibits the possession of personal firearms in the country.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:40 PM

The Samoan currency is the tala, which is available in denominations of: 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, and 2 bills. The current exchange is approximately US$1=ST$3.23. Credit cards are increasingly accepted in locally owned shops and restaurants and are widely accepted by hotels, tour operators, and airlines.

There are three banks in Samoa — ANZ Bank Samoa Ltd., Wespac Bank, and the National Bank of Samoa. The ANZ Bank is open Mon-Wed, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Thur-Fri 9 a.m.-4 p.m and a number of ATM's throughout Apia. Western Union branches offer money transfer facilities and full international services.

Samoa is 7 hours behind (earlier) Washington, D.C., during U.S. daylight savings months, and 6 hours behind for the rest of the year. The metric system of weights and measures is used.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 8/25/2003 1:03 PM

At this time, U.S. personnel are exempt from local income tax as well as import and export duty taxes. If Embassy employees wish to sell their cars on the local market, they are responsible for seeing that import duties are paid either personally or by the buyer. Such duties can run as high as 20%. Also, according to U.S. Government policy, anyone wishing to sell items when leaving Samoa must provide a list of the items and their sto the Ambassador for approval before sale. No employee may make a profit on the sale of goods.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:41 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Brown, George. George Brown, D.D., Pioneer-Missionary and Explorer: An Autobiography: A Narrative of Forty-Eight Years' Residence and Travel in Samoa, New Britain, New Ireland, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. AMS Press: 1976.

Calkins, Fay G. My Samoan Chief. University of Hawaii Press: 1995.

Keene, Day. Passage to Samoa. Ulverscorft Large Print Books, Inc.: 1992.

Kramer, Augustin. Samoa Islands: An Outline of a Monograph with Particular Consideration of German Samoa: (Material Culture) Vol. 2. University of Hawaii Press: 1995.

Lawson, Stephanie. Traditional Versus Democracy in the South Pacific: Fiji, Tonga, and Western Samoa. Cambridge University Press: 1996.

O'Meara, Tim. Samoa Planters: Tradition and Economic Development in Polynesia. Harcourt Brace College Publishers: 1997.

Papua Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Western Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga: Business Risk Overview. Edited and Published by Rector Press Limited: 1994.

Perham, Margery F. Pacific Prelude: A Journey to Samoa and Australasia, 1929. Dufour Editions, Inc.: January, 1988.

Stanner, W.E.H., South Seas in Tradition: A Study of Post-War Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in Three British Pacific Dependencies. Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.: 1982.

South Seas in Transition: A Study of Post-War Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in Three British Pacific Dependencies. AMS Press: 1953.

Turner, George. Samoa, a Hundred Years Ago and Long Before. AMS Press: 1996.

West, Frances J., Political Advancement in the South Pacific: A Comparative Study of Colonial Practice in Fiji, Tahiti and American Samoa. Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc: 1984.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 9/3/2003 2:42 PM

New Year's Day January 1 Good Friday March 29 Easter Saturday March 30 Easter Monday April 1 ANZAC Day April 25 Mothers-of-Samoa Day May 13 Independence Day June 1 Labor Day August 1 Children’s-White-Sunday (Day after White Sunday) October 14 Arbor Day November 1 Christmas Day December 25 Boxing Day December 26

All holidays which fall on Sunday are to be observed on the following Monday. Subsequently, consecutive Holidays with one falling on Sunday are likewise observed on the following days.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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