Samoa History

Samoa History

Early to modern times

Characteristics of the Samoan language suggest that the Polynesian tribe, which was founded around 1000 BC. the Samoan island Upolu settled, came from the southern group of islands Tonga. Numerous common legends and origins show that contacts between the Polynesians on the Samoa, Tonga and Fiji archipelagos have not broken down over the centuries.

The first Europeans reached the islands in the first half of the 18th century and were warmly received by the Samoans. First the Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen, then in the second half of the 18th century the French Louis Antoine de Bougainville and Jean François de la P¨¦rouse visited and explored the islands.

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19th century

In the first half of the 19th century, members of the London Mission Society landed and converted the Samoans to Christianity within a short time. Traders and settlers from the USA, Germany and Great Britain followed in the second half of the 19th century and founded coconut and cocoa plantations on the islands rich in freshwater, which were operated by Chinese and Melanesian workers. Conflicts between rival tribes and merchants and farmers on the island led to a dispute between the three states over the archipelago at the end of the 19th century. All three countries set up naval bases on the islands. However, after a hurricane destroyed the opponents’ warships, the countries agreed on joint administration in 1889. There was another change

20th century

According to AbbreviationFinder, resistance against the Europeans began in 1908 with the Mau a Pule movement in Savaii. In 1914, New Zealand occupied the islands as part of the First World War. The flu virus introduced into the country killed 8,500 Samoans, more than a fifth of the population. New Zealand was given West Samoa as a mandate by the League of Nations after the First World War, and the independence movement got more and more popular. But when the New Zealanders began to think about a political solution, World War II broke out and the United States needed the islands as a base in the war against Japan. They built an airport and military roads on Upolu.

After the Second World War, West Samoa came under the New Zealand protection mandate by decision of the newly founded United Nations. In January 1962 the islands were able to declare independence under the name “West Samoa”. Two tribal chiefs proclaimed common heads of state of a parliamentary chief aristocracy. This made the islands the first Polynesian nation to restore independence in the 20th century. In 1963 (after the death of Tupua Famasese Meaole, one of the chiefs), the second, Malietoa Tanumafili II, continued to rule as sole ruler.

In 1970, West Samoa became a member of the Commonwealth and, together with other countries in the South Pacific, founded the “South Pacific Forum”, which envisaged closer economic and political cooperation. In 1976 it joined the UN. Until 1991, the so-called Matai, as heads of the family clans, dominated the political scene. They administered the island kingdom and elected members of parliament. In 1988 Fofilau Eti Alesana was appointed head of government and in 1991 the Matai rule ended with the first general election. The head of government was confirmed and the “Human Rights Protection Party” emerged victorious from the vote. However, the right to stand still remains restricted to the Matai (exception: two representatives of the minorities in parliament).

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Development since the 90s

Natural disasters in the mid-1990s led to major economic slumps in the already poor state, which could only be mitigated by foreign aid and remittances from Samoans working in New Zealand and the United States. In 1997 the country deleted “West” from its official state name and changed its name to “Independent State Samoa”. In November 1998 Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi became the new head of government and foreign minister. King Malietoa Tanumafili II died on May 11, 2007. From now on, the head of state is elected by the parliament every five years. Tupuola Taisi Tufuga Efi, the country’s former prime minister, was elected to succeed Tanumafili in June 2007. The government¡¯s goal is to bring urgently needed foreign currency into the country through the settlement of foreign companies and an intensification of tourism. Left-hand traffic has been on Samoa’s roads since 2009.

Samoa President