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American Samoa

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American Samoa
Amerika Sāmoa
"Sāmoa, Muamua Le Atua" (Samoan) (English: "Samoa, Let God Be First")
Anthem: "Amerika Samoa"
Location of American Samoa
Location of American Samoa (circled in red)
Sovereign stateUnited States
Partition of SamoaDecember 2, 1899
Ratification ActFebruary 20, 1929
CapitalPago Pago[a]
Government seatFagatogo[a]
Largest villageTāfuna
Official languages
Ethnic groups
88.9% Samoan
2.9% Tongan
2.7% Multiracial
2.2% Filipino
2.2% other
1.2% White
98.3% Christian
1.7% other
Demonym(s)American (official)
American Samoan (colloquial)
GovernmentDevolved presidential constitutional dependency
• Governor
Lemanu Peleti Mauga (D)
Salo Ale (D)
House of Representatives
• Total
77 sq mi (200 km2)
Highest elevation
3,170 ft (970 m)
• 2020 estimate
55,212 (208th)
• 2010 census
• Density
670.8/sq mi (259.0/km2)
GDP (PPP)2016 estimate
• Total
$658 million[8]
• Per capita
CurrencyUnited States dollar (US$) (USD)
Time zoneUTC−11:00 (SST)
Date formatmm/dd/yyyy
Driving sideright
Calling code+1-684
USPS abbreviation
ISO 3166 code
Internet TLD.as

American Samoa /səˈmə/ (audio speaker iconlisten) (locally /ˈsɑːmə/; Samoan: Amerika Sāmoa, [aˈmɛɾika ˈsaːmʊa]; also Amelika Sāmoa or Sāmoa Amelika) is a territory of the United States. It is part of the Samoan Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean.

In 1899, Germany and the U.S. divided the Samoan group of islands. The U.S. got the smaller group of islands on the east side. These islands had a good harbor near the capital city, Pago Pago. The western islands were run by Germany and then by New Zealand and are now the independent country Samoa.

Officially, American Samoa is an "unorganized" territory. This means that the U.S. Congress has not passed an Organic Act. But the people who live in American Samoa rule themselves. Their constitution became effective on July 1, 1967.

The capital of American Samoa is Pago Pago, but the seat of government is Fagatogo.

Citizenship[change | change source]

People who are born in American Samoa are called U.S. nationals, not U.S. citizens. This means they have some of the same rights as citizens but not all of them. Unlike people who are not Americans at all, American Samoans can go to any other part of the United States they want and live there for as long as they want. But they are not allowed to vote, to be on juries in court, to run for office, or to hold any job that the employee has to be a citizen to hold. For contrast, someone born in Puerto Rico or Guam is a citizen, so if they move to a state, they are allowed to vote in that state and in all federal elections.

Some American Samoans like that they are not American citizens and others do not. Some American Samoans say that being nationals and not citizens makes it easier for them to keep the fa'a Samoa, the Samoan way of life. In 2019, three American Samoans living in Utah sued the U.S. government to say they are citizens. The judge agreed with them. The judge said that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution says that anyone born in any part of the United States is a citizen, and that should mean American Samoans too. But the next day, he said they should not register to vote until after an appeal judge has seen the case.[10] [11][12][13][14]

In 2016, the United States Supreme Court decided they did not want to look at a case about whether American Samoans are citizens.

References[change | change source]

  1. Revised Constitution of American Samoa Archived 2021-01-13 at the Wayback Machine, American Samoa Bar Association.
  2. 3.0207 Divisions and sessions—Composition, Annotated Code of American Samoa, American Samoa Bar Association.
  3. 3.0303 Sessions-Petit jury, Annotated Code of American Samoa, American Samoa Bar Association.
  4. American Samoa Observatory, Trip to Tula, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  5. American Samoa Representative and Liaison Offices, U.S. Department of the Interior.
  6. Tutuila Island Map, National Park Service.
  7. "Districts of American Samoa". Statoids. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "American Samoa". The World Factbook. CIA. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  9. "GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT FOR AMERICAN SAMOA INCREASES FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 13, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  10. "U.S. Citizen Vs U.S. National: Differences". U.S. Immigration. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  11. "American Samoa". GovTrack. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  12. Dennis Romboy (December 13, 2019). "Judge puts citizenship ruling for American Samoans on hold". KSL. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  13. Kelleher of NBC and Anita Snow and Matthew Lee of the Associated Press (December 13, 2019). "U.S. should recognize American Samoans as citizens, judge says". NBC News. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  14. Vanessa Romo (December 13, 2019). "American Samoans' Citizenship Status Still In Limbo After Judge Issues Stay". NPR. Retrieved December 14, 2019.


  1. 1.0 1.1 The constitution specifies the seat of government at Fagatogo, where the legislature, High Court and District Court are located.[1][2][3][4] The executive office building is located in neighboring Utulei.[5][6] These two villages are located along Pago Pago Harbor, whose largest village is Pago Pago. Many sources list Pago Pago as the capital, referring to the whole agglomeration around the harbor.[7][8]

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to American Samoa at Wikimedia Commons American Samoa travel guide from Wikivoyage