GEOGRAPHY OF SAMOA
Samoa is located in Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. Its geographic coordinates are 13 35 S, 172 20 W. Samoa occupies an almost central position within Polynesia.
Area: total: 2,831 square kilometers; land: 2,821 square kilometers; water: 10 square kilometers; ranking compared to other countries in the world: 177. It is about slightly smaller than Rhode Island. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]
Land Boundaries: total: 0 kilometers; Coastline: 403 kilometers; Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nautical miles; contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles.
Land Use: agricultural land: 12.4 percent (2018 estimate). Arable Land: 2.8 percent (2018 estimate); permanent crops: 7.8 percent (2018 estimate); permanent pasture: 1.8 percent (2018 estimate); forest: 60.4 percent (2018 estimate); other: 27.2 percent (2018 estimate). [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]
Topography: two main islands (Savaii, Upolu) and several smaller islands and uninhabited islets; narrow coastal plain with volcanic, rugged mountains in interior. Elevation: highest point: Mount Silisili 1,857 meters; lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 meters.
Volcanoes: Savai'I Island (1,858 meters), which last erupted in 1911, is historically active
Climate: tropical; rainy season (November to April), dry season (May to October).
Natural Hazards: occasional cyclones; active volcanism
Ocean islands are basically divided into three types: 1) "low" coral and sand islands; 2) "high" islands (usually exposed peaks and ridge-tops of submerged mountains and volcanos); and 3) parts of the continental shelf. Some continental islands were mountains and hills along the coast during last Ice Age when ocean levels were lower.
Low islands or cays were formed on coral shoals from reef sediments. Atoll islands are low islands (See Below). Seabird dropping fertilize the soils of some of these islands, which allow scrubby forest to take root. Others are battered regularly by storms and are little more than shifting piles of sand. Some patches of sand are so low they disappear during low tide and lose their status as islands.
High islands generally have better soil and a better supply of water than low islands. Low islands support only a few species of plant because there little topsoil and this soil has a high salt content. Although they often have no visible water sources they often are positioned over water lenses that trap rain water and can provide fresh water through wells.
Text Sources: CIA World Factbook, 2023; “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Volume 2: Oceania,” edited by Terence E. Hays, 1991, Wikipedia, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated August 2023