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tiistai 18. lokakuuta 2016

Samoa, Cool Facts #153

<= 152. Solomon Islands                                                                                                 154. Tonga =>

1. Discovery of Samoa 

Samoa has been inhabited since about 2500-1500BC, when the Austronesian predecessors of Samoan people migrated from Southeast Asia and Melanesia. The first European to sight the Samoan islands was the Dutch Jacob Roggeveen. The visit was followed by Louis-Antoine de Bougainville in 1768, when the Frenchman named the islands Navigator Islands. Contact with the islands was limited until 1830s, when English traders and missionaries started arriving.

Jacob Roggeveen
Samoa stamps

2. Partitioning of Samoa 

First Samoan Civil War 1886-1894
Different Samoan factions fought against each other over the question whether Malietoa Laupepa or Mata'afa Iosefo would be King of Samoa. Germany, USA and Great Britain were part of the conflict as they supplied arms and training to the warring Samoan parties. All three western powers already sent warships to Apia harbor and a large-scale war seemed imminent. The conflict then ended when a massive storm destroyed the warships and the three countries decided that Malietoa would be the King. 

Second Samoan Civil War 1898-1899
Germany, USA and Great Britain were locked in a dispute over who should rule the Samoan archipelago. Great Britain and USA allied with Malietoa as Germany supported Mata'afa and his followers. In the end of the conflict Mata'afa became the paramount chief of Samoa and the islands were divided between the colonial powers according to the Tripartite Convention. 

Tripartite Convention of 1899
- USA acquired the present-day American Samoa
- Germany acquired German Samoa, the present-day Samoa 
- Great Britain got all of the Solomon Islands south of Bougainville

German, American and British warships in Apia harbor 1899
Ceremony commemorating the creation of German Samoa in 1900

3. Mau Movement 

German Samoa 1900-1914
Germany ruled Samoa with the principle that "there was only one government in the islands". The colonial Governor made all decisions on matters affecting lands and titles. In 1908 Samoans established the anti-colonial O le Mau a Samoa movement.

New Zealand rule 1914-1962
During World War I New Zealand seized control over Samoa from the German authorities. Great Britain requested New Zealand to perform their "great and urgent imperial service". Samoans resented New Zealand's colonial rule and blamed them about the inflation and the catastrophic flu epidemic in 1918-1919. The Mau movement had gained widespread support by the late 1920s. Olaf Fredrick Nelson, a half Samoan half Swedish merchant was one of the important Mau leaders and he was exiled in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but still continued financing and helping the movement.

Black Saturday 
The day known as Black Saturday happened in 1929. According to the Mau movement's non-violent philosophy, the leader and his followers in the movement demonstrated peacefully in downtown Apia. A struggle developed between the police and the Mau as one Mau leader had resisted, when a police officer tried to arrest him. The officers then started firing randomly into the crowd killing eleven people and injuring about 50 people. Chief Tamase got killed, when he was shot from behind as he tried to calm down the demonstrators by shouting "Peace Samoa".

Samoa's freedom heroes

4. Matai Tribe Leaders 

When Samoa gained independence in 1962 the matais, Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole and Malietoa Tanumafili II of the two biggest tribes, were chosen as lifelong heads of state. This act was done to prevent the fights between tribes, which occurred many times in the 1800s.

In 1963 Tupua Tamasese died, so Tanumafili II kept his office alone until 2007. After the year 2007 the head of state was chosen every five years as Samoa changed from a constitutional monarchy to a parliamentary republic.

Only a matai can run for the elections. There are currently more than 25,000 matais in Samoa.

5. Samoan Society 

- The Samoan language is the oldest preserved Polynesian language 
- Samoans are the second biggest Polynesian ethnic group after the Maori people in New Zealand 
- About 75% of the population live on the main island of Upolu
- Despite centuries of European influence, Samoa maintains its historical customs, language, social and political systems 
- The majority of the population are Christians but the ancient beliefs continue to co-exist side-by-side with Christianity 
- The tradition of tattooing exists in Samoa like in Hawaiian, Tahitian and Maori cultures 
- The most popular sports in Samoa are rugby union, Samoan cricket and netball

Samoan family
Tattooing in Samoa around 1895


1722 Dutch Jacob Roggeveen was the first European to sight the Samoan islands
1768 French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville named the islands Navigator Islands
1830s English missionaries and traders started arriving and establishing permanent settlements
1889 The Samoan crisis escalated when Great Britain, Germany and USA all sent their warships to Apia harbor, a large-scale war seemed imminent before a massive storm damaged or destroyed the warships thus ending the military conflict
1898 Second Samoan Civil War started as USA, Great Britain and Germany fought over the control of the Samoan archipelago
1899 The Second Samoan Civil War ends and the archipelago is divided between USA, Germany and Great Britain at the Tripartite Convention 
1900-1914 Imperial Germany governed the western Samoan islands, which is the present-day Samoa
1908 The non-violent resistance movement Mau a Pule arose and the leader Lauaki Namulauulu Mamoe was banished to the German Northern Mariana Islands in 1909
1914 New Zealand captured German Samoa during World War I and after the war New Zealand controlled Samoa under trusteeship through the League of Nations
1918-1919 Influenza epidemic killed 20% of the Samoan population
1929 Black Saturday, peaceful Mau demonstration was dispersed by New Zealand police officers firing randomly into the crowd killing and injuring several people
1943 The Department of External Affairs, which administered Samoa, was renamed Department of Island Territories
1962 Samoa gained independence from New Zealand
1997 The country changed its name from Western Samoa to Samoa
2002 New Zealand's prime minister Helen Clark formally apologized for New Zealand's role in the events of 1918 and 1929
2009 Samoa changed the driving orientation to the left side of the street 

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