Samoa dancers

Samoa – A Place


Samoa flag

Samoa is an island nation in the central region of the South Pacific Ocean. The two main islands are Savai’i and Upolu, with smaller populations living on the islands of Manono and Apolima. The remaining islands, Fanuatapu, Namu’a, Nu’utele, Nu’ulua, and Nu’usafee, are uninhabited. The capitol city, Apia, lies on the northern shore of Upolu. In 2017, Samoa reported a population of approximately 200,000, with over three-quarters of those inhabitants living on Upolu.

Samoan History

The first Samoans were Polynesians who arrived in outrigger canoes approximately 3000 years ago, around 1000 BC. Linguistic studies indicate that these first inhabitants likely came from Tonga, another archipelago located farther south in the Pacific Ocean. By about AD 200, Polynesian peoples had spread across much of the South Pacific and Samoa had become a central settlement, with contact recorded between Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji.

The early Samoans were a maritime culture, and they brought with them traditions of master shipbuilding, navigating, and fishing. They settled along the coasts of the islands in villages ruled by councils of chiefs. These villages often went to war with each other as major ruling families vied for supremacy.

The Samoans lived in relative seclusion, interacting only with their Polynesian neighbors for centuries until European contact was established in the 1700s. In the early 1800s, Christian missionaries arrived and converted the ruler of the islands to Christianity, causing the rest of the population to quickly convert as well. Many foreign settlers arrived, and for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Samoa was the subject of a power struggle between nations such as the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and New Zealand. The Samoan peoples did not achieve political independence until 1962, when the nation of Western Samoa was officially recognized. In 1997, Western Samoa was shortened to Samoa, giving the country the name it carries to this day.

Modern Samoa

Samoa dancers
Samoa dancers

The population of Samoa is comprised mainly of Polynesians, with 92.6% of inhabitants identifying as ethnic Samoans. The remaining inhabitants identify as Euronesian (persons of mixed European and Polynesian descent), 7%, and European, 0.4%. Samoa has the second largest population of Polynesians in the world, outnumbered only by the Maori peoples of New Zealand. Samoan and English are the two primary languages. Samoan, which is a member of the Polynesian language family, is the official language. The Samoan Sign Language is also used by some members of the deaf population.

Samoa is almost exclusively a Christian nation, and in 2017 the Samoan Constitution was amended to explicitly define Christianity as the state religion. Over 50% of Samoans are Protestant Christian, including Congregationalist, Methodist, Assembly of God, and Seventh Day Adventist congregations. Approximately 20% identify as Roman Catholic, and 15% identify as Mormon. Less than one percent of the population identifies as something other than Christian.


This section is under development.


Genographic ProjectGeno 2.0 Data

Data from Geno 2.0 is derived from the The National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project — the DAR. The Hg ID is specific to this site and is used to protect the identities of those who take part in Genographic research. Birth Country, Mother’s Birth Country, and Maternal Grandmother’s Birth Country have been normalized from DAR database fields. The Maternal Origin is determined based on the three previous fields.

Note: Geno 2.0 results currently use Phylotree build 16. I am working on changing results over to build 17.
[wp_jdt id=”geno2″]

Hap10023848 H1c1 United Kingdom United Kingdom Samoa Hap10044208 B4a1a1 United States Territories Samoa Samoa Hap10044209 B4a1a1 Samoa United States Territories Samoa Hap10044239 B4a1a1a New Zealand Samoa Samoa Hap10044240 B4a1a1a Samoa Samoa Samoa Hap10044245 B4a1a1a Samoa Samoa Unspecified
Hg IDHg Build 16Birth CountryMother’s Birth CountryMaternal Grandmother’s Birth Country

Sources and Resources


Samoa – The CIA World Fact Book
Samoa – Encyclopedia Britannica
Samoa – Wikipedia
Samoa Officially Becomes a Christian State – The Diplomat

Journal Articles

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Asia & The Pacific – Cyndi’s List

Author: Daniel McClary

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