The Independent State of Samoa, known as Western Samoa until 1997, is made up of nine volcanic islands, two of which - Savai'i and Upolu - make up more than 99% of the land. It was governed by New Zealand until its people voted for independence in 1961.
Samoa has the world's second-largest Polynesian group, after the Maori. Its deeply conservative and devoutly Christian society centres around the extended family, which is headed by an elected chief who directs the family's social, economic and political affairs, and the church, which is a focus of recreational and social life.
Samoa Tourist Attractions
Many Samoan villages hold up to 20 minutes of prayer curfews in the evenings. The economy revolves around fishing and agriculture, which is vulnerable to cyclones and disease. Attempts at diversification have met with success.
Samoa Tourism is growing, thanks to the islands' scenic attractions and fine beaches. Offshore banking spearheads an expanding services sector. Light manufacturing is expanding and has attracted Samoa travel foreign investment.Top city of China
Despite this, many younger Samoans are leaving for New Zealand, the US and American Samoa. Money sent home by Samoans living abroad can be a key source of household income.
Full name: The Independent State of Samoa
Population: 187,000 (UN, 2007)
Area: 2,831 sq km (1,093 sq miles)
Major languages: Samoan, English
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 75 years (women) (UN, 2007)
Monetary unit: 1 tala = 100 sene
Main exports: Coconut oil and cream, copra, fish, beer
GNI per capita: US $2,090 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .ws
International dialling code: +685