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Country profile: Samoa
languages: Samoan, English
Head of state: Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi
Prime minister: Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi
The Independent State of Samoa
Samoa - Agriculture :
agriculture occupies 43% of the land area,
employs about 65% of the labor force, and makes
up about 50% of GDP. Most Samoans grow food
crops for home consumption and cash crops for
export. Village agriculture, in which the family
is the productive unit, involves the largest
areas of land, occupies the preponderance of the
labor force, and produces the major portion of
food and cash crops. Coconut products, cocoa,
taro, and bananas are produced for export, and
bananas, taro, and taamu are grown for local
sale. Village plantings are invariably mixed,
containing some or all of the following crops:
coconuts, cocoa, bananas, taro, taamu,
breadfruit, sugarcane, yams, manioc, and various
fruits. Plantation agriculture has been
controlled mainly by non-indigenous residents.
Exports of unprocessed copra have been largely
replaced by coconut oil, coconut cream, and
copra cake. Due to a decline in world prices,
coconut production fell to 95,000 tons in 1992.
In 1999, coconut production was estimated at
130,000 tons. Taro (coco yam) production in 1999
amounted to 37,000 tons. Taro production dropped
97% in 1993/94 due to leaf blight, and the
government is working on methods to control the
disease. Exports of cocoa have fallen in recent
years, thereby discouraging production. Since
1991, no production over 1,000 tons has been
reported. Banana exports fluctuate greatly from
year to year. Exports of agricultural products
in 2001 amounted to $5.1 million, while
agricultural imports totaled $17.7 million that
The Independent State of Samoa, known as Western Samoa until 1997, is made up of nine volcanic islands, two of which - Savai'i and Upolu - make up more than 99% of the land.
It was governed by New Zealand until its people voted for independence in 1961.
Samoa has the world's second-largest Polynesian group, after the Maori. Its deeply conservative and devoutly Christian society centres around the extended family, which is headed by an elected chief who directs the family's social, economic and political affairs, and the church, which is a focus of recreational and social life. Many Samoan villages hold up to 20 minutes of prayer curfews in the evenings.
The economy revolves around fishing and agriculture, which is vulnerable to cyclones and disease.
Attempts at diversification have met with success. Tourism is growing, thanks to the islands' scenic attractions and fine beaches. Offshore banking spearheads an expanding services sector. Light manufacturing is expanding and has attracted foreign investment.
Despite this, many younger Samoans are leaving for New Zealand, the US and American Samoa. Money sent home by Samoans living abroad can be a key source of household income.
Samoa enjoys a "generally free" press, according to the US-based media monitor Freedom House.
But officials have sued the main privately-owned newspaper, the Samoa Observer, for reporting on alleged corruption and abuse of public office. The authorities have also withdrawn government advertising from the paper.
The government and private operators run TV stations and channels from American Samoa are readily available.