Independent Samoa (hereafter called Samoa) lies immediately west of the 171st meridian2 at 13° south of the Equator. It is made up of two large volcanic islands, Upolu and Savai'i, and two smaller inhabited islands, Manono and Apolima. The remaining five islands are uninhabited. Apia is the only town and is the nation's capital, located on the north coast of Upolu. (See map below)
Air New Zealand, Polynesian blue and Pacific Airlines fly into the international airport at Faleolo several times a week. Arrivals and departures tend to be during the night. It is a 35-minute drive from Faleola into Apia, where most of the accommodation is located and it is a good place to start a visit to Samoa. The tourist information bureau is here, as are the shops, the ANZ bank and the post office.
Samoa has two distinct seasons - the dry season, which runs from May - October and the wet season from November to April. Average monthly minimum temperatures are in the low 20's (Celcius, 70's Farenheit), with maximums in the low 30's (Celsius, up to 90 Farenheit) all year round.
Samoa's population is approximately 180,000. Samoans are the most populous full-blooded Polynesian race in the world.
Samoan is the national language, but English is the official language of business. Most Samoans are competent in English. Below are some useful Samoan words to learn:
English Samoan Pronunciation
Hello Talofa Tah-low-far
Goodbye Tofa Tor-far
Thank you Fa'afetai Far-ah-fay-tie
Please Fa'amolemole Fah-ah-more-le-more-le
Yes Ioe Ee-or-e
No Leai Le-i
Maybe Masalo Mar-sar-lor
Light summer clothing is appropriate all year round, with perhaps a light sweater for the cooler evenings. Smart casual evening wear is appropriate for hotels and restaurants. Visitors are requested not to wear bathing suits in Apia or in the villages. No nude or topless (for women) swimming or sunbathing. Women are recommended to wear a lavalava (sarong) or dress, rather than shorts or trousers, if they attend church.
The main religious denominations in Samoa are Congregational, Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Assembly of God, Seven Day Adventist, Bahai, Latter Day Saints and Jehovah's Witness. Sundays in Samoa are dedicated to God, with families usually attending church in the mornings followed by a family to'onai (lunch) and resting for the remainder of the day. You are welcome to attend the services. Please ask at your hotel reception for service times.
New Year's Day January 1st
Day after New Year's Day January 2nd
Head of State's Birthday January 4th
Good Friday: April 14th
Easter Sunday April 16th
Easter Monday April 17th
ANZAC Day April 25th
Mother's Day May 15th
Independence Day June 1st
Independence Day Celebration June 2nd
Father's Day August 14th
Lotu a Tamaiti (White Sunday) October 9th
Arbor Day November 3rd
Christmas Day December 25th
Boxing Day December 26th
Survivor Australia 2017