Samoa Government and Politics
Constitution and political system
Following the Constitution of 1962, Samoa is a constitutional and partly parliamentary-democratic monarchy. The set is characterized by a mixture of English and Samoan traditions. The head of state, called O le Ao le Malo, has been the sole leader since 1963. When he dies, the successor is to be elected by parliament for five years, among the four bearing the title of “royal son”. The executive power lies with the prime minister, who is elected by parliament, and by a government the prime minister appoints. Parliament, Fono, has 49 members; 47 is elected for five years among Samoan Mataians from local circles, nominated by their clans as chieftains. The last two are elected from non-Samoan citizens.
Samoa is divided into 4 regions, where the Mataians, through their own councils, exercise a considerable degree of local autonomy.
The judiciary is characterized by a combination of British and traditional law. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court, a Court of Appeal (presided over by the Chief Justice), the Magistrate’s Court (consisting of two magistrates and four Samoan judges) and the Land and Title Court (presided over by one of the Supreme Court judges).
Weights and Measures
Dimensions and weight are metric.
Samoa has no regular military forces. The country has had a defense and friendship agreement with New Zealand since 1962. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of WSM and its meanings of Samoa.
History and Politics
Early history of Samoa
The first settlers – or so one suspects – lived on the island of Upolu and probably came from Southeast Asia, Malaysia, the Philippines or the East Indies. There was an early exchange between the people of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. This also included a clever marriage policy that was supposed to prevent disputes. The inhabitants of Samoa were skilled boaters and often went on expeditions themselves, and so they discovered many islands in the Polynesian region themselves.
The first European
The first European to arrive in Samoa in 1722 was a Dutch named Van Roggeveen. Like many other explorers of his time, he was looking for the so-called “southern continent”, the Terra Australis. However, the island he came across was probably much too small for that. So the ship sailed on without him having set foot in Samoa.
The first French
But that’s not all for the Europeans. The French were also looking. A famous Frenchman named Monsieur De Bougainville even stepped onto one of the islands in 1768 to take a break from his long sea voyage. But his interest in the island did not go very far, he too disappeared again.
More French came and there were initial misunderstandings between the residents and the strangers. So incidents happened again and again in which there were deaths on both sides. But other visitors were not deterred and just stayed there.
The whalers in particular recognized the Samoan fishing skills. So there was an exchange here. The locals, with their sea skills and knowledge of the region, drove on the whaler’s ships.
The first Christians
In 1830, a man named John Williams appeared in Samoa, a missionary sent by the London Missionary Society (LMS), a Protestant missionary society. He convinced the people of Samoa of the Christian, more precisely the Protestant teaching.
The Samoans did not have their own religion, so it was not so difficult to convince people of the Christian faith. Other missionaries from other churches followed. Controversy only arose with the appearance of Catholic missionaries, primarily from France. These vied with the Protestant missionaries for the souls of the believers.
But most of them were busy building the church, everyone wanted a beautiful and large church. Then there were fewer and fewer arguments and everyone was satisfied. So today there are a large number of different churches in Samoa. And the residents also go to church diligently, definitely on Sundays, because going to church is definitely a must.
The first Germans
The Germans also discovered the islands for themselves and founded a trading company around the middle of the 19th century. The first plantations were established on the islands. It was recognized in the German Empire that trading with the islands could be a very profitable business. But the British and Americans were just as interested, so that there was competition between the powers.
After many years of disputes, the Berlin Samoa Agreement was concluded in 1889. Samoa became an independent kingdom, but it was under the protectorate of the three countries. But peace did not last long, and in 1899 Samoa was partitioned. The western part came to the German Reich, the eastern part to the USA. Later this part was called “American Samoa” and still belongs to the USA today. Great Britain received other islands in the Pacific in return.
From 1900 to 1914 the present state of Samoa was one of the German colonies. The governor of the islands was called Wilhelm Solf.
Solf’s colonial policy can be described as “moderate”. In contrast to the German settlers, who would have liked to see the local population as unpaid workers on the plantations, the governor granted the population freedoms that did not exist in other colonies.
Chinese workers were brought in to work in the fields, but their treatment left a lot to be desired. Solf expanded the infrastructure, built schools that all children could attend, and took care of social affairs.
That is why the view of the Germans’ colonial times is not only negative today. But overall there is not much evidence of these 14 years, apart from a few German names and a few buildings from the colonial period.
From World War I to independence
At the beginning of the First World War, the western part of Samoa was occupied by New Zealand and from 1920 it was administered as a League of Nations mandate. The residents were often brutally suppressed. The independence movement that had already emerged under German rule became more and more popular.
But it was not until 1962 that Western Samoa became independent. Two tribal chiefs proclaimed joint heads of state in a parliamentary chief rule. This made Samoa the first Polynesian state to gain independence.
The head of state is now elected every five years and Samoa has also been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1970. Western Samoa became the State of Samoa in 1997, while American Samoa continues to be part of the United States. By the way, Samoa is on the western side of the date line. This makes it part of New Zealand’s time zone, with which it has closer political ties and with which it trades.