Samoa Travel Guide
Samoa Travel: General Information
A visit to the South Pacific is incomplete without a stopover in Samoa. The island nation, located off the North West coast of Australia, is a tropical paradise surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, and is rightly known as “The Treasured Islands of the South Pacific”. The country’s natural wonders influenced great writers like Robert Louis Stevenson, who found a home amidst the mountains and rainforests.
The country’s rich culture, the Fa’a Samoa or the traditional Samoan way, remains unchanged for centuries, despite European influences. Two large islands, Upolu, and Savaii, along with seven smaller islets make up the nation. Samoa’s main population is concentrated in its capital city, Apia, situated on the island of Upolu. Savaii is the largest island, filled with lush rainforests and vast lava fields, and Salelologa as its commercial center. From dramatic waterfalls to mountain peaks and volcanoes, Samoa is the perfect place to witness nature in its elements. The country’s economy depends on tourism and agricultural exports.
Samoa Travel: Key Facts
Capital city: Apia
Area: 2,934 sq. km.
Population: 182,548 (as per 2007 census)
Monetary Unit: Tala (or Samoan Dollar)
Official Language: Samoan
International Dialing code: 685
Samoa Travel: Popular Tourist Destinations
The two large islands of Upolu and Savaii are the main tourist attractions
· Upolu Island: Apia, the nation’s capital, is the main attraction on the island, with a number of historic places such as the 1962 Independence Memorial, the Catholic Cathedral, the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. The Palolo Deep Marine Reserve is the best place for snorkeling and is the official underwater park. The city is a buzz during the day with several local markets going about their business, while the beachfront is lined with a number of bars and restaurants that come alive at night.
If you want to experience some traditional Samoan entertainment then visit Aggie Grey’s Fia Fia and witness the fire knife dance and some authentic Samoan cuisine as well. The Parliament House (Fale Fono) is situated on a patch of reclaimed land deep in the harbor, west of the city. The site also houses the Central Bank of Samoa.
· Savaii Island: This is the largest island in the Samoan group and is home to all the natural wonders ranging from volcanoes to rainforests and traditional Polynesian villages along the beaches. The Tafua Peninsula is the greatest attraction, where an hour’s walk would take you around the Tafua Crater. The area between Lelepa and Manase is the most popular beach location that stretches for miles. This is a great spot for snorkeling. Visit the Peapea caves and a 2 day trip can take you to Mt. Silisili, which is the highest point at 1,858m. The Alofaaga Blowholes is the best place to watch the waves burst through and rise 30 meters high. Twenty minutes from the main town of Saleolaga is the Pulemeli Mound, a pyramid that is 15 meters high and more than 60 meters in length. This is the also largest archeological site in Polynesia.
Samoa Travel: Economy and Infrastructure
Tourism and agricultural exports are the backbone of the Samoan economy. Natural disasters caused a major decline in the economy in the early 1990’s. The government did well to respond to these disasters by stepping up economic reforms and liberalizing exchange controls. Agriculture, forestry and fishing, the primary sector, accounts for 11.6 % of GDP, while the tourism employs more than 50% of the labor force and accounts for nearly three-quarters of GDP. Tourists have contributed over $100 million to the economy, with more than 122,000 visitors from New Zealand, American Samoa and the United States. Industry employs less than 6% of the work force and contributes only 13% of GDP. While Australia and the U.S. are major trading partners, an increasing number of Asian businesses from Hong Kong and Japan have opened up trade between the countries. Fuel, food and beverages, and industrial supplies are imported, while fish, fruit, and coconut products are the country’s major exports.
Samoa Travel: Culture
Samoan culture is dictated by Fa’a Samoa, meaning the Samoan way. The Samoans have a strong sense of family, community, and are deeply religious. Respect towards elders is a fundamental principle that at times the younger generation finds difficult. Fa’a Samoa is also prominent in the country’s legal system, which is primarily governed by a police force and a justice department. The traditional methods are still employed at the village level. The country’s deeply religious background is evident in its motto: "Samoa is founded on God".