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Samoa

Samoa

Summary

Originally called Western Samoa, the island grouping was occupied by New Zealand until 1962, and then in 1997 changed its name to Samoa. The country’s economy is heavily reliant on family remittances and aid from international organizations. The only armed force on the islands is the Police; there is no Samoan military. Domestic violence and discrimination against women are major cultural issues.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ws.html

Demographics

Nationality
Samoan
Population
195,476 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Samoa Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

As a grouping of small islands, Samoa is uniquely vulnerable to inclement weather. In particular, storms and tsunamis pose a serious threat to the population, as evidenced by the devastating tsunami in 2009.1 Overfishing and marine pollution threaten Samoa’s coastal aquatic biodiversity.2 In 2017 the government initiated a multi-million dollar plan that is projected to have 100% of the country running on renewable energy by 2025. This project is being completed in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme.3

Family

Between 2012 and 2015 the number of reports of domestic violence rose from 200 to 723. This prompted an investigation by the United Nations which found that domestic violence has become more “socially legitimized”..1 While the Samoan constitution prohibits domestic abuse, cultural norms often tolerate domestic abuse and inhibit the reporting of domestic crimes. Corporal punishment of children is legal in Samoa, and in recent years there has been a rise in reports of child abuse, particularly incest and assault cases. There are currently no provisions against spousal rape in Samoa, and instances of rape and sexual assault frequently go unreported.2

Human Rights

The most common human rights violations in Samoa involve domestic abuse against women and poor prison conditions. There have been no reports of politically motivated detentions, unlawful killings, or disappearances in Samoa in recent years. However, there have been limited reports of abuses of power by security or police forces, which included police brutality, sodomy, and indecent assault.There are also reports that a lack of government enforcement has allowed for the emergence of local militia groups who discriminate against women and abuse children.1

Education

NGOs and local communities are responsible for a majority of early childhood education on the islands. Primary school enrollment is high, and a majority of students go to school for eight years. 60% of students continue on to secondary education, and 90% of those graduated in 2016. Unequal distribution of quality education has been cited by Samoan national reports as one of the factors keeping rural families poor.1 Education is Samoa is compulsory through age 14. Despite this, there are reports of student-aged children that work in the streets as vendors or in other occupations during school hours.1

Poverty

Poverty is not a major concern in Samoa, as the country is considered to have one of the most stable economies in the Pacific Region. None of the population are reported to be living under the extreme poverty line. 20% of the population, however, lives under the basic income line. The Borgen Project states that one of the difficulties facing people living on little income is the geography of the islands. The soil is fertile but spread thinly and is extremely vulnerable to erosion. Additionally, natural resources such as fish are dwindling as the human population increases.1

Religion

Religious freedom is a constitutional provision in Samoa and is generally upheld by both the government and society. There have been no recent reports of religious discrimination on the islands.1 The majority of Samoan citizens identify with some denomination of Christianity. The most popular denomination on the islands is Protestantism, which accounts for 57% of the population, followed by Roman Catholicism, which accounts for 19% of the population. Additionally, Mormons account for approximately 15% of the population.2

Clean Water

99% of Samoa’s population has access to clean drinking water, and 92% of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities.1 One of the greatest issues with the water supply is contamination due to poor waste management practices. Low-lying urban areas are among those most affected by this issue. Runoff and sediment erosion from these areas also contribute to the contamination of local water sources.2

Economy

Corruption and inconsistent application of the rule of law hinder economic productivity.2 Samoa’s economy is largely dependent on the agricultural sector. The public debt is 52% of GDP. Exports include fish and coconut products, while imports consist of machinery and industrial supplies. The country’s main trade partners are Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Family remittances and development aid have been crucial to the continued health of Samoa’s economy.2

Government

Samoa officially gained independence from New Zealand in 1962 and is now an independent state made up of ten small islands, governed by a parliamentary republic. There are four major political parties. There is a chief of state as well as a prime minister who serves as head of government. The chief of state has the power to appoint the cabinet.1 Corruption is pervasive in government offices, and legal property ownership has not been clearly defined and is poorly enforced.2

Health

The average life expectancy in Samoa is 74 years. The maternal mortality rate is 51 deaths per 100,000 live births, while infant mortality is 19 deaths per 1,000 live births. The government spends 7% of GDP on healthcare annually. Samoa is the eighth most obese country in the world; 47% of the population is overweight.1

Children

Samoa was the first Pacific Island country to take action to adopt provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Government officials have vocalized their support of improved protections for children, but as of 2018 legislation still had not been written and approved.1 The largest threats to children’s wellbeing in Samoa are lack of education, abuse, and child labor. There have been reports of student-age children working on the streets during school hours. The main people addressing these problems are nonprofit organizations.1

Animals

The tropical islands of Samoa are part of the critically endangered Oceania ecoregion. Rainforests and brush-covered lowlands make up a majority of the landscape. There are over 100 native species of orchids. Common wildlife includes the Samoan tooth-billed pigeon, Australian grey duck, fruit dove, and island thrush, along with a variety of geckos and skinks. Many of these species are threatened by over-hunting and invasive species such as rats and cats that were introduced by humans.1

Samoa

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