Samoa Population - History

Samoa Population - History

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More than 2,000 years ago, waves of Polynesians migrated from Southeast Asia to the Samoan Islands. Samoans are the second largest Polynesian group, after the Maoris of New Zealand, and speak a Polynesian dialect.

Samoans have tended to retain their traditional ways despite exposure to European influence for more than 150 years. Most Samoans live within the traditional social system based on the aiga, or extended family group, headed by a matai, or chief. The title of matai is conferred upon any eligible member of the group, including women, with the common consent of the aiga. In addition to representing the aiga in village and district fono (councils), the matai is responsible for the general welfare of the aiga and directs the use of family lands and other assets.




country comparison to the world: 185
note: prior estimates used official net migration data by sex, but a highly unusual pattern for 1993 lead to a significant imbalance in the sex ratios (more men and fewer women) and a seeming reduction in the female population; the revised total was calculated using a 1993 number that was an average of the 1992 and 1994 migration figures (July 2009 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 37.6% (male 42,117/female 40,603)
15-64 years: 56.7% (male 65,541/female 59,292)
65 years and over: 5.7% (male 5,538/female 6,907) (2009 est.)

Median age:

total: 20.8 years
male: 21 years
female: 20.5 years (2009 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.346% (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 101

Birth rate:

28.06 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

Death rate:

5.79 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 171

Net migration rate:

-8.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 175


urban population: 23% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 24.22 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 90
male: 28.61 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 71.86 years
country comparison to the world: 124
male: 69.03 years
female: 74.84 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.16 children born/woman (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:


HIV/AIDS - deaths:



noun: Samoan(s)
adjective: Samoan

Ethnic groups:

Samoan 92.6%, Euronesians (persons of European and Polynesian blood) 7%, Europeans 0.4% (2001 census)


Congregationalist 34.8%, Roman Catholic 19.6%, Methodist 15%, Latter-Day Saints 12.7%, Assembly of God 6.6%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.5%, Worship Centre 1.3%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.9%, unspecified 0.1% (2001 census)


Samoan (Polynesian), English


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.6%
female: 99.7% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2001)

Education expenditures:

American Samoa Population 2021 (Live)

American Samoa is not a country but is instead an unincorporated territory of the United States. American Samoa is not to be confused with Samoa. American Samoa is located to the southeast of Samoa in the Pacific Ocean. The territory is made up of five islands and two coral atolls. In total, the land area of American Samoa is about 77 square miles. With a population estimated to be about 55,689 in 2018, this puts the population density at nearly 671 people per square mile.

The capital of American Samoa is Pago Pago, which is located on the main island of Tutuila. As of 2010, the population was over 3,600, making this the most populous settlement in American Samoa.

The majority of inhabitants in American Samoa are U.S. nations but are not U.S. citizens. As many as 15% of inhabitants are U.S. citizens, while around 35% were foreign-born. Over three-quarters of the foreign-born population came from Samoa. There are two official languages in the territory: English and Samoan. The majority of American Samoans speak both languages.

Around 91% of inhabitants are native Samoans. Minority ethnic groups include whites, Asians, and mixed races. American Samoans are predominantly Christian. In fact, estimates from 2010 show that over 98% are of the Christian faith.

American Samoa Population (LIVE)

The American Samoa Population (Live) counter shows a continuously updated estimate of the current population of American Samoa delivered by Worldometer's RTS algorithm, which processes data collected from the United Nations Population Division.

The Population of American Samoa (1950 - 2019) chart plots the total population count as of July 1 of each year, from 1950 to 2019.

The Yearly Population Growth Rate chart plots the annual percentage changes in population registered on July 1 of each year, from 1951 to 2019. This value can differ from the Yearly % Change shown in the historical table, which shows the last year equivalent percentage change assuming homogeneous change in the preceding five year period.


Year: as of July 1 of the year indicated.

Population: Overall total population (both sexes and all ages) in the country as of July 1 of the year indicated, as estimated by the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Population Prospects: The 2019 Revision. For forecasted years, the U.N. medium-fertility variant is used.

Yearly % Change: For 2019: percentage change in total population over the last year (from July 1, 2018 to June 30 2019). For all other years: latest year annual percentage change equivalent assuming homogeneous change in the preceding five year period, calculated through reverse compounding.

Yearly Change: For 2019: absolute change in total population (increase or decrease in number of people) over the last year (from July 1, 2018 to June 30 2019). For all other years: average annual numerical change over the preceding five year period.

Density (P/Km²): (Population Density) Population per square Kilometer (Km²).

Urban Pop % : Urban population as a percentage of total population.

Urban Population: Population living in areas classified as urban according to the criteria used by each country.

Country's Share of World Pop: Total population in the country as a percentage of total World Population as of July 1 of the year indicated.

World Population: Total World Population as of July 1 of the year indicated.

Global Rank: Position held by American Samoa in the list of all countries worldwide ranked by population (from the highest population to the lowest population) as of July 1 of the year indicated.

Samoa Population 1950-2021

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Migration from Samoan Islands to the USA began in the 19th century. The Samoans were part of the first Mormon Polynesian colony in the USA, which was founded in Utah in 1889 and consisted of Samoans, Hawaiian natives, Tahitians, and Maori people. [3]

American Samoa officially became a U.S. territory in 1900 with the Treaty of Cession of Tutuila and in 1904 with the Treaty of Cession of Manu'a. [4]

In the 1920s a small group of Mormons from American Samoa emigrated to the modern United States. They were brought by American Mormons to Laie, Hawaii to assist in building the Mormon Temple of this place. [5] [6] The community grew over the decade and in 1929 there were already 125 American Samoans living in Laie, but the Samoan migration to Hawaii fell in the following years. It was probably due to the crash of 29, the loss of an important rice field for the community, and the Second World War. In the second half of the 1940s another many American Samoans emigrated in the USA. Over 330 of them, mostly Mormons, moved to Hawaii. [7] In 1951, nearly 1,000 American Samoans linked with the army (i.e. military personnel and their relatives [8] ) migrated to the Honolulu's American bases by accepting an invitation from the US Navy (which had left its bases in the Pago Pago city, as American Samoa began to be administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior [5] ) so that the Marines could continue working for the Navy. However, many of them later migrated to California (in 1952). [9] [8]

In 1952 the natives of American Samoa become U.S. nationals, although not American citizens, through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. [10] This encouraged Samoan emigration to the United States and during the rest of the decade nearly four thousand Samoan mormons migrated to the USA, mostly to California [11] and Hawaii. Many more Samoans migrated to the USA in the 1960s, surpassing those who emigrated in the previous decade. In fact, the largest Samoan migration to the US occurred at this time (mainly at the beginning of the decade). [12] [8] After 1965 increased migration from Samoa republic. [6] At this time, many Samoans emigrated to Hawaii attracted by the presence of the Polynesian Cultural Center in this state. [7] In 1970s over 7,540 Western Samoans emigrated to the United States, although the number of people from American Samoa who emigrated to the USA is unknown. [13]

In 1972, the number of American Samoans living in the USA exceeded the Samoan population in American Samoa, and California took the place of Tutuila as the main Samoan-populated region. [14] In 1980 over 22,000 Samoa-born lived in the USA, mostly of Western Samoa (more than 13,200), while 9,300 were from American Samoa. [13]

According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, there were 204,000 Samoan people in the United States stateside population, including those who have partial Samoan ancestry. [15] The Samoan American community consists in Americans of both American Samoan and Samoan descent. According to Unicef, 12,354 people from Independent Samoa lived in the U.S. in 2013. [16]

California Edit

63,000 people of Samoan origin reside in California, meaning almost one-third of the Samoan population in the U.S. lives in California. 0.2% of California's population is of Samoan descent. The number of those who identify as Samoan alone is 36,443. [17] The percentages and numbers of Samoan people residing in cities listed below vary from 2015 to 2018, according to the "5-Year Estimates Detailed Tables" from the U.S. Census Bureau. [18]

Southern California Edit

Carson (1.8-2.2%), Compton (0.3-0.5%), and Long Beach (0.7-0.8%), and Paramount (0.7-1%) in Los Angeles County, Oceanside (0.5-0.6%) in San Diego County, and Twentynine Palms (0.9-1.1%) in San Bernardino County have among the highest concentration of Samoans in Southern California, which include those of partial ancestry. [19] Also in San Diego, the very first Samoan church in the entire United States, was founded in 1955 by Rev. Suitonu Galea'i. From there, multiple Samoan churches throughout California branched from the First Samoan Congregational Christian Church of San Diego. [20] [21] [22] Garden Grove in Orange County has a Samoan community, as well as a church located off Century Boulevard. There are Samoan communities enumerating several hundred in Moreno Valley (300 to 500) and San Bernardino (400), at least 0.2% of the city’s populations.

Northern California Edit

The public housing communities in the Bayview-Hunters Point, Potrero Hill, and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods in San Francisco are home to much of the city’s Samoan community. As per the 2015-18 estimates, San Francisco is 0.2-0.3% Samoan (1,807-2,262 residents). [19] The 2018 estimate of the number of Samoans in San Francisco is a decrease from the 2000 reported number of Samoans, which was 2,311 (which did not account for people who reported to be part Samoan). [23] In the East Bay Area, San Leandro is home to a sizable Samoan community (0.4%-0.6%), as well as in Daly City (0.4-0.9%), East Palo Alto (1.2-1.3%), and Hayward (0.6%-0.9%). [24] In Daly City, Samoan restaurants and businesses are located off Geneva Avenue. In 1972, the First Samoan Congregational Church of San Jose was founded by Rev. Felix T. and Molly T. Ava Molifua, affiliated with Northern California UCC. [20] San Jose has over 3,000 Samoans in residence (0.3%).

In the Central Valley and inland California, where compared to the Bay Area has a slightly smaller percentage of Samoans, higher populations are commonly found in the areas of Modesto (0.2%), Sacramento, and Stockton. The city of Sacramento has over 1,800 to 2,200 Samoans, about 0.4% of its population.

In Central California, Samoan Americans are concentrated in Monterey County, which was home to a U.S. Army base, Fort Ord, which closed in 1994. The populations are concentrated in Marina (0.8-1%) and Seaside (0.4%-0.9%). [19]

Other Western U.S. Edit

Oregon and Washington Edit

The Seattle−Tacoma, Washington area is also home to a sizable Samoan community, especially in the cities of Kent (1.5%), Renton (1%), Federal Way (1.6%), SeaTac (2.9%), and White Center (3.2%). [25] Seattle has 1,500 Samoans, 0.2% of the city's population. [18] The First Samoan Christian Congregational Church in the Washington state was established in 1964 in southeast Seattle, where Samoans settled in the Pacific Northwest. [26] The south Seattle neighborhoods of Columbia City and Rainier Valley have had sizeable Samoan communities since the 1960s and 1970s. Nearly 6,000 people of their descendants reside in Pierce County, Washington, making up 0.7% of the county's population. [27] Tacoma is home to 1,800 Samoans, making up nearly one percent of the city's population. [18]

The Dalles, Oregon has a Samoan community of nearly 200 Samoan people, making up 1.3% of the city's population. [18]

Utah and other western U.S. Edit

Utah statewide is 0.6% Samoan including those with some non-Samoan ancestry, and 0.3% are those who identify as Samoan alone. [17] Utah has a history of Samoan immigration dating back to the late 1800s, due to them taking up Mormonism which was preached and influenced to them by missionairies who had came to Polynesian islands. Utah's Mormon community had housing and services for some Polynesian immigrants, which also included Tongans and Maoris. Salt Lake City, Utah is home to 1,500 Samoan-origin people, 0.7% of the city's population. [28] Salt Lake County cities such as Kearns (2%), Taylorsville (1.5%), and West Valley City (1.8%) having above average proportions of Samoan people for Utah. There is a sizable Samoan community in Provo, which is at least 0.3% Samoan. [18]

There is a Samoan community in Colorado Springs, Colorado of 430 people (0.1%), and Lawton, Oklahoma (0.3%), in which Comanche County, Oklahoma is at least 0.6% Pacific Islander (2010), mainly Samoan.

Las Vegas, Nevada is home to over 1,500 Samoans, 0.2% of the city's population. [18]

Alaska and Hawaii Edit

Outside the mainland U.S., many Samoan Americans have settled in Hawaii and Alaska. About 2.8% of Hawaiian residents are of Samoan descent, with 1.3% having full Samoan ancestry. Many live on the island of Oahu. Linapuni Street, especially the Kuhio Park Terrace apartments in Honolulu, has the highest concentration of Samoans of any residential area in Hawaii, at 37% of residents. Central Palolo has the highest percentage of any Hawaiian tract, with 4% having a Samoan background. [29] The Oahu town of Laie has 1,380 Samoan Americans, about 21% of the town, one of the highest concentration of Samoan Americas of any town or city in the U.S. [18]

Two percent of people in the city of Anchorage, Alaska are of Samoan descent, with nearly 6,000 living in the city. Alaska has a relatively high proportion of them, comprising about 0.8% of the state's population. [27] [18]

Midwest and South Edit

In the Midwest, a significant Samoan community is in Independence, Missouri, where around 1,000 Samoan people reside (0.9% of the city). In nearby Kansas City, Missouri there lives 340 Samoans, which is 0.1% of the city's population. [18]

There is a community of Samoans in Liberty County, Georgia.

In Texas, there is a Samoan community prominent in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Euless (0.5%), and a Samoan church in the city of Killeen (0.3%).

Military Edit

Significant numbers of Samoan Americans serve in the U.S. Military. America Samoa has the highest rate of military enlistment of any state or territory. [32]

American football is the most popular sport in American Samoa. Per capita, the Samoan Islands have produced the highest number of National Football League players. In 2010, it was estimated that a boy born to Samoan parents is 56 times more likely to get into the NFL than any other boy in America. [33]

American Samoa Population 1950-2021

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Genomics used to estimate Samoan population dynamics over 3,000 years

Reconstructing how many individuals first settled the many small islands in the Pacific and when they arrived remain important scientific questions, as well as an intriguing ones for understanding human history. Human migrations into the islands of Remote Oceania -- from circa 3,000 to 1,200 years ago -- mark the last major movement into locations previously uninhabited by humans.

These questions are also crucial as part of scientific efforts to understand the role of early history of Pacific islanders on contemporary public health problems including obesity and associated non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed the genomes of 1,197 individuals in Samoa and found that the effective population size of the first Samoans was small -- ranging from 700 to 3,400 people during the time period from approximately 3,000 to about 1,000 years ago. Starting about 1,000 years ago, population size rapidly increase to about 10,000 individuals, coinciding with increasing agricultural and socio-political complexity, but also with previously hypothesized contacts with other Oceanic peoples.

This population history scenario for Samoa is consistent with the existing archaeological evidence of few, widely scattered and small-sized settlements in the first 2,000 years after Samoa's initial settlement. But it contrasts with archaeological population reconstructions of much larger population sizes for adjacent Pacific peoples in Tonga and Fiji during that first 1,500 to 2,000 years after initial discoveries around 3,000 years ago.

The research team's conclusions could help in understanding health conditions of particular importance to people in Samoa, home to some of the highest rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the world.

"These findings are relevant for our ongoing public health research in Samoan populations because they highlight the importance of population history and size in influencing our ability to identify the effect of novel genetic variations, and their interactions with 21st century environments on population health," said Stephen McGarvey, study co-author and a professor of epidemiology and of anthropology at Brown University.

McGarvey has studied extensively obesity and diseases that stem from obesity -- including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and cancer -- in Samoa, which are not only a threat to individual health, but to the nations' economic and social development.

"Smaller populations and the evolutionary mechanisms resulting from them, including genetic drift from bottlenecks and natural selection from novel challenging environments such as experienced by the first settlers of Samoa, make it easier to detect new gene variants and different frequencies of known variants that affect cardiometabolic disease risk factors now in the 21th century," he said.

The new study also found that modern Samoans derive largely from the Austronesian lineage, including the aboriginal peoples of Taiwan, Island Southeast Asia, coastal New Guinea and other island groups of Oceania -- but share 24% of their ancestry with Papuans, the descendants of the people who settled Papua/New Guinea, an estimate markedly lower than found in neighboring Polynesian groups.

The researchers also found strong evidence of population reduction coincident with outside contact from European-derived groups, presumably from infectious diseases new to Samoan immune systems and societal shocks from such epidemics. The whole genome sequence data from participants' DNA also enabled findings about some genetic diversification within Samoa that may be reflective of regional and local social processes. The genomic data also showed an increase in population size about 150 years ago.

"These findings indicate that the modern Samoan population is a result of these demographic dynamics from the earliest times 3,000 years ago to the very recent colonial period in the 19th century," McGarvey said. "Any questions about putative genetic influences and their interactions with modern ways of life must be asked in the context of population history."

Samoa Facts

1. The traditional house of Samoans has no walls

The people of Samoa live in a house called “fale.” It is usually round or oval in shape with pebble floors and a thatch roof supported by wooden posts, but it has no walls. The area is very open and the only protection from a bad weather is blinds made from coconut leaves. Ropes made from dried coconut fibers were woven tight, often with a complex pattern for design, around the wooden frame to bind the structure together.

2. Tattooing was a rite of passage for a man

A fun fact about Samoa is that the art of tattooing or “tatau” is very much a part of Samoan culture. Traditionally, it was a symbol of social status in the community. In males, it was considered a rite of passage from adolescence into adulthood given that it was a painful process that often took weeks or months to finish. The Pe’a or tattoo for males is often intricate in design and covers the body from the upper waist area to the knees. Each tattoo is beautiful and unique, and has special meaning for the wearer.

3. Samoa has a third gender

Fa’afafine is regarded as the third gender in Samoa. The term basically means “in the manner of a woman.” They consider themselves different from homosexuals in that they have a complete separate gender identity. The third gender has been widely accepted in Samoan culture for generations and as relevant as male and female.

4. It has its own ancient pyramid

Hidden deep within the thick jungle of the island of Savai’i is the largest ancient structure in the South Pacific known as the Pulemelei Mound or Tia Seu Ancient Mound. It is pyramidal in shape with a vast base measuring 65 meters by 60 meters that supports multiple layers of basalt stones to a height of 12 meters. When you look at it from above, it has a star shape, so it is also called star mound or star pyramid. The top was flat, which might have been used for religious ceremonies.

5. Men wear skirts in Samoa

It is not unusual for the traditional Samoan men to wear skirts whether in private or public. Also, they wear it with pride, an interesting fact about Samoa. The men’s skirt is called “lavalava,” which means cloth that wraps around. It is essentially a single rectangular cloth worn as a skirt and secured around the waist by knotting the upper corners. The design and length of the skirt that they wore would depend upon the occasion or the activity.

6. Samoans skipped a day in December 2011

As the clock struck midnight on December 29, 2011, a fun fact about Samoa is that they fast forwarded to December 31 as they crossed the International Date Line. Samoa went from being the last place on earth to see the sun set to being one of the firsts to welcome the new day. Losing a day made people born on December 30 missed out on celebrating their birthdays that year. The move from east to west of the International Date Line was to align their time zone with their biggest trading partners, Australia and New Zealand thus, making it easier to conduct business with them.

7. The People of Samoa celebrated July 4 twice in 1892

The American traders persuaded the king of Samoa in 1892 to make the move from the western side to the eastern side of the International Date Line in order to better facilitate business with the United States. The switch happened on July 4, which gained the Samoans an extra day that year and enabled them to celebrate the U.S. Independence twice.

8. They celebrate all things Samoan at the Teuila Festival

An annual event is held every September to celebrate the nation’s culture through dance, music, food, and craft. The Teuila Festival, named after their national flower, Teuila or red ginger, is usually a week-long event that features the best that Samoans have to offer. The festivities include their traditional dance and the “siva afi” or fire knife dance, where the performers do acrobatic stunts or dance while twirling knives that are set afire on both ends. You get to learn about “umu” or the traditional way of cooking food by the locals using earth oven. There are also weaving, wood carving, and tattooing demonstrations. The shows and activities are held across the country.

9. Samoa and American Samoa are different

An interesting fact about Samoa is that the Samoan Islands were partitioned in 1899 with the western islands becoming a German colony and the eastern islands becoming a territory of the United States. In 1914, New Zealand took control of Western Samoa until 1962 when Samoans gained their independence. And in 1997, the government amended their constitution and changed their name from Western Samoa to Samoa.

10. Author of Treasure Island found a home in Samoa

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish novelist who wrote the popular fiction Treasure Island and the Strange case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. In 1889, his family settled in the island of Upolu. Robert bought more than a hundred hectares of land and named his estate Vailima. He took the name Tusitala, which is Samoan for “Writer of Tales.” He was well respected and loved by the people. The locals consulted him for advice and he became genuinely interested in their customs and politics. In December 3, 1894, he died at the age of 44 and was buried on a spot at Mount Vaea overlooking the sea. The words written on his tomb are from his poem, “Requiem,” and were translated to a Samoan song of grief. His Vailima home is now a museum dedicated to the final years of his life there.

Family is everything to the people of Samoa, and their communal way of living shows that. The extended family lives and works together, with their elders greatly respected. This is the “Fa’a Samoa” or The Samoan Way. They put much value on their culture and traditions, which is why their nation continues to thrive.

I hope that this article on Samoa facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!

History of American Samoa

The Samoan islands were settled by Polynesians (probably from Tonga) about 1000 bce . Many scholars believe that by about 500 ce Samoa had become the point of origin for voyagers who settled much of eastern Polynesia.

The Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen sighted Samoa in 1722, and other European explorers, beachcombers, and traders followed. The London Missionary Society sent its first representatives to the islands in the 1830s. More missionaries traveled to the islands as missionary influence spread to Tutuila and later the Manua Islands.

In 1878 the United States signed a treaty for the establishment of a naval station in Pago Pago Harbor. An 1899 agreement between colonial powers divided Samoa into spheres of influence: Germany gained control of the western islands, and the United States took the eastern islands. Formal cession by the local chiefs came later. By 1904 the eastern islands had all been ceded to the United States, although the U.S. Congress did not formally accept the deeds of cession until Feb. 20, 1929. Under the administration of the U.S. Navy (1900–51), American Samoa became a strategic naval base, but the Samoan leaders had little administrative power. In 1951 control of the territory was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior. The U.S. government appointed a governor who had full powers to administer the territory. The governor appointed political advisers and senior civil servants from the United States to help him.

The Samoans agitated for control of their country’s affairs, and in 1977 Peter Coleman, a Samoan, became the territory’s first elected governor. Since then all members of the territory’s Fono have been elected by the citizens. In 1981 American Samoans for the first time elected a nonvoting delegate to serve a two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega was elected to that office in 1988 and repeatedly won reelection.

On Sept. 29, 2009, the Samoan archipelago was shaken by an undersea earthquake of magnitude 8.3, centred some 120 miles (190 km) to the south in the Pacific Ocean. The quake generated a tsunami that flooded the islands of American Samoa in several waves and caused extensive damage to Tutuila Pago Pago was inundated, and villages throughout the islands were flattened, killing scores of people.

Watch the video: History of Samoa (July 2022).


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