History of American Samoa

American Samoa consists of several islands in the eastern portion of the Samoan archipeligo. The Samoan islands were first settled by immigrants from the Lau Islands in Fiji, approximately 3,500 years ago.


Contact with Europeans began in the early 18th century, and by the mid 19th century, Great Britain, Germany, and the United States of America, had all established trading posts and were all claiming parts of the islands. The 1899 Treaty of Berlin divided the Samoan islands between Germany, and the United States of America, and U.S. Navy subsequently established a coaling station at Pago Pago Bay.

During World War I, the German part of the islands, was captured by New Zealand and became a New Zealand protectorate. After World War I, a peaceful independence movement, the Mau movement, emerged in both the New Zealand (Western Samoa) and American parts of the islands, but was unsuccessful.


In World War II, American Samoa was an important military base, and U.S. Marines outnumbered the local population, and left a huge cultural influence.

Subsequent to World II, the U.S. Department of Interior sponsored an attempt to incorporate American Samoa into the United States. This attempt was however defeated in Congress, prinicipally due to the efforts of American Samoan chiefs. The chiefs’ efforts eventually led to the creation of local legislature which meets in the village of Fagatogo. Additionally, the Governor of the American Samoa is no longer appointed by the U.S. Navy, but is instead locally elected.



As of today, American Samoa, remains an unorganized unincorporated territory of the United States. Although technically unorganized, American Samoa is self-governing under its constitution which became effective on July 1st 1967.
History of American Samoa History of American Samoa Reviewed by Kelly Miller on May 19, 2015 Rating: 5

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