Samoa is a group of 10 islands. People live on four of them. The main islands are Savai’i and Upolu.
Savai’i, one of the largest islands in Polynesia, is known as the Cradle of Polynesia. According to legend, Savai’i is Hawaiki – the homeland.
Samoans are renowned seafarers. Like other Polynesians, they use outrigger canoes. Most of the canoeing is confined to lagoons, but Samoans also paddle canoes in the ocean.
The islands were created by volcanic activity. For example, Savai’i has a volcano at its centre – Mount Silisili. It last erupted in 1911.
Samoa’s volcanic soil supports Samoa’s lush vegetation. It is easily eroded, but gives the islanders a good base for growing crops. Their staple products include coconut, pineapple, mango, cocoa beans and bananas.
Tattoos are an important part of Samoan culture. Males get the ‘pe’a’ – a tattoo that covers the knees to the ribs. Female Samoans get a ‘malu’ from just below the knees to the upper thighs.
At the end of 2011, Samoans jumped forward one day, leaving out 30 December, when the nation moved to the west of the International Date Line.
Two years earlier they changed the side of the road that they were driving on. They went from the right to the left overnight.
Samoa joined the Commonwealth in 1970 and made its first Commonwealth Games debut in 1974. Boxing and Weightlifting medals were the highlights of their first Games. Since then, they have only missed the 1986 Games.