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American Samoa

Amerika Sāmoa / Sāmoa Amelika

Flag of American Samoa Coat of Arms of American Samoa
Flag Coat of arms
American Samoa on the globe (Polynesia centered)

Pago Pago (de facto)
Fagatogo (seat)




American Samoan


United States dollar (USD)
American Samoan dollar


-Cession of Tutuila


-Cession of Manu'a


-Annexation of
Swains Island



$537 million (2007)

-Per capita

$8,000 (2007)

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American Samoa (Loudspeaker /əˈmɛrɨkən səˈmoʊ.ə/ (helpinfo); Samoan: Amerika Sāmoa; also Amelika Sāmoa or Sāmoa Amelika) is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, to the southeast of the nation of Samoa. It consists of Tutuila, Rose Atoll, Swains Island, and the Manu'a Islands. Part of the Samoan Islands chain, American Samoa is located west of the Cook Islands, north of Tonga, south of Tokelau, and east of Wallis and Futuna.


Jacob Roggeveen

Jacob Roggeveen

American Samoa was originally inhabited by Polynesians as early as 850 AD. The first known European to sight the Samoan islands was Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who discovered the chain of islands in 1722 on his search for Terra Australis. Early Western contact included a battle in the 18th century between French explorers and islanders on Tutuila, for which the Samoans became blamed in the West and were given a reputation of being hostile. International rivalries between the German Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the United States regarding the Samoan Islands were settled by the Tripartite Convention of 1899, which partitioned the islands into two parts: eastern and western. The eastern group of islands became in possession of the United States (Tutuila in 1900 and Manu'a in 1904) and is referred to today as American Samoa; the western group, referred to as German Samoa, was ceded to Germany and is now the Independent State of Samoa. The eastern Samoan Islands were first referred to as American Samoa on July 7, 1911. The most recent island to become part of American Samoa, Swains Island, was officially annexed to the territory in 1925.


Main article: Economy of American Samoa
Charlie Tuna AmSamoa

Statue of Charlie the Tuna outside of a canning facility in Pago Pago.

Most employed citizens of American Samoa either work in the public sector, the only remaining tuna cannery, or the rest of the private sector. There are only a few federal employees on the island and no active duty military personnel except members of the United States Coast Guard, although there is an Army Reserve unit and a U.S. Army recruiting station in Utulei.

A majority of the public sector employees on American Samoa work for the island's territorial government. The one tuna cannery, StarKist, exports hundreds of millions of dollars worth of canned tuna to the United States every year. The other cannery, Samoa Packing, closed in 2009 due to its employees being granted minimum wage. The American Samoan economy was highlighted in Congress in 2007, at the request of Samoan Delegate to the United States House of Representatives Eni Faleomavaega.

Between the years 2002 and 2007, real gross domestic product of American Samoa increased at an average annual rate of 0.4 percent. The annual growth rates of real GDP ranged from negative 2.9 percent to positive 2.1 percent. The unpredictability of real GDP was primarily the result of changes in the export of canned tuna. At the time, the tuna canning industry was the largest private employer on the island.

Since its enactment, the Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938 has contained provisions for American Samoa, in which it cites the territory's limited economy. Wages on American Samoa are based on recommendations given at a Special Industry Committee meeting two times each year. The Act initially contained provisions for other U.S. territories, but were later phased out as they developed more diverse economies.

As a result of the passage Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, minimum wage in American Samoa was increased that year by 50 cents per hour, and will continue to increase by the same amount every year thereafter until the minimum wage equals $7.25 per hour, as it is in the United States. In response to this, the Chicken of the Sea tuna cannery on American Samoa was shut down and 2041 employees were laid off. The other major tuna cannery on the islands, StarKist, began laying off workers in August 2010, with plans to lay off about 800 workers due to the minimum wage increases. Instead of laying off minimum wage workers, Governor Togiola Tulafono suggested reducing the salaries and bonuses of higher-ranked employees.

The unemployment rate on American Samoa was 29.8% in 2005, and improved to 23.8% in 2010. The GDP per capita in the neighboring islands of Samoa was approximately $8000 in 2007. American Samoa's economy is generally better than that of its neighbors, as the GDP per capita in American Samoa was more than twice as high as Samoa's during the same year.


AmSamoa 5 dollars AC

A coin of American Samoa from 1988.

The numismatic and currency history of American Samoa is not very extensive. From its assumed inception as an unincorporated territory of the United States in 1904, the United States dollar has been declared as legal tender, as it is in all U.S. territories. However, in 1988 the American Samoan Government did authorize the issuance of collector's coins bearing legal tender status on the island that commemorated America's Cup and that year's Summer Olympics. Since then, no official coins for the islands have been produced.

Currency History
Code Currency Name Dates Conversion Divisions
USD United States dollar
1904 -
  100 Cents = 1 Dollar

See also[]

  • German Samoa
  • Samoa
  • Western Samoa Trust Territory


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Unincorporated territories of the United States
Current American SamoaBajo Nuevo BankBaker IslandGuamHowland IslandJarvis IslandJohnston AtollKingman ReefMidway IslandNavassa IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsPalmyra AtollPuerto RicoSerranilla BankUnited States Virgin IslandsWake Island
Former Panama Canal ZonePhilippinesTrust Territory of the Pacific Islands
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Countries AustraliaFijiKiribatiMarshall IslandsMicronesiaNauruNew ZealandPalauPapua New GuineaSamoaSolomon IslandsTongaTuvaluVanuatu
Non-sovereign territories American SamoaAshmore and Cartier IslandsBaker IslandClipperton IslandCook IslandsCoral Sea IslandsEaster IslandFrench PolynesiaGuamHawaiiHowland IslandJarvis IslandJohnston AtollJuan Fernández IslandsKingman ReefMidway IslandMinamitorishimaNew CaledoniaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsOkinotorishimaPalmyra AtollPapua, IndonesiaPitcairn IslandsTokelauWake IslandWallis and FutunaWest Papua (province)